CELEBRATING HOME

Hello Everyone, welcome HOME . . .MUSICAsocomewithme darkness img_6062

As we have discussed before, I’m a house person, I love them ~ I’ve loved them forever.  All sizes, big and little ~ some so little they can fit on the shelf on top of my stove, and some even smaller that light up with votive candles. I even loved the little red houses in our Little house on the stove monopoly game and seeing them all lined up, even if it was just Baltic Avenue, was a feeling of great comfort! I wasn’t even that wild to change them for a hotel. I liked my houses.🏡 So today I think I’ll show you lots and lots of English and Scottish houses and some New England houses too;  houses we walked by, houses we went into, houses we lived in, and houses famous people lived in… and some we just drove by while I scrambled for the camera. Won’t that be fun?  But before I do… We have some unfinished business don’t we Girlfriends? We have some prize winners to announce. I thought we might do this a bit quicker than usual, because, as you know, Vanna can take FOREVER to wake up, she’s such a princess. So when she came in last night, while she was still alert, I got her to draw the two winning names! Brilliant eh?

img_7278  So here we go! Over 3,000 of you left comments to enter the drawing which sounds like a lot (a real lot if you ask me!) until you remember how many millions of people buy lottery tickets ~  you have a MUCH better chance of winning! This is my favorite part of the drawing… the Heart of the Home Dream Charmmoment in time where everyone is still a winner. I do not like announcing the actual winner, no matter how happy I am for them.  I just wish everything would divide itself into loaves and fishes and pass itself around. But let’s be excited, because here we go . . . The first name Vanna drew will receive what you see above, a personalized copy of the 30th Anniversary edition of Heart of the Home, plus, a bird-in-a-gilded-cage ornament (that I found in England), and, in addition, two of our limited edition Dream Charms for your necklace or bracelet: Fireworks in Oak Bluffs“Christmas Joy” and the new “Heart of the Home.”  SO. Are you ready???? Here we go!! Fireworks please!

The First Winner is . . .  Sandra Stephens (who wrote in her comment that she has a “new dream of visiting England”). Congratulations Sandra‼️I hope winning this prize sets you on a path of luckiness that takes you everywhere you want to go!♥️

And now, for Drawing Number Two:

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And here’s the second prize, the teapot I bought in an antique store in the Peak District in England in 2012… I painted it for A Fine Romance, and now it’s waiting to hear about its new home ~ that, along with two personalized books, A Fine Romance, and Heart of the Home, and a Last year, island fireworks!“Girlfriends” Dream Charm.

And, the winner IS, eeeek, . . . . . Joy in Alabama‼️

Congratulations to you, Joy💛 ~  hopefully this will bring you even MORE Joy! I’ll write both Sandra and Joy to find out what names they’d like me to write in their books and to get their addresses. Thank fireworksevery one of you for your amazing, wonderful, funny, evocative, sweet comments. It’s you that makes this Blog such a nice place to come to. Thank you for your contributions!! LOVE YOU!♥️

Now. Not really a runner’s-up prize, but still, something quite nice:  Houses.  Shall we?bathing

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We’ll start with one of my little top-of-the-stove houses ~ this one only comes out once a year.💛

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And now, in no particular order . . . Homes sweet Homes.  Rainy day or sunshine, in focus or not, houses have such sweet allure. Much more than just shelter from the storm, they are havens of hopes, dreams, memories, births and deaths, grief and joy, youth and age, school days, holidays, snowstorms, daffodil lawns, barbecues, careful economy, report cards, grilled cheese sandwiches, energy, creativity, birthday cakes, new shoes; our homemade, everyday lives. All of these houses have one basic thing in common, besides the fact that normal people, like us, just trying to get through this life with everything intact, live there ~ it’s also something about the mystery in each of them that makes me think that I might like to live there too.  One of my favorite things in travel is to see how others live. What home looks like to them.

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So many houses in England have names . . . Just like my own Holly Oak, which must have had English roots to have always had a name. A name always makes me wonder. Why? I like to wonder why. I come up with all kinds of plausible and implausible possibilities, and Joe is my victim. He’s trapped in the car with me as I muse out loud. Luckily he doesn’t listen to me, other wise I might drive him crazy. 💛

house ebrington 2 mi from chipping campden

Thatched roofs are not something you see too often in America. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.  But there are many in England, and in Scotland, some of them are made with heather.

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Just like in the USA, different parts of the country use different kinds of building materials…mostly what was available locally and most plentifully.

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Joe and I stayed in Owl Cottage for three glorious weeks and church bells rang everyday.

Nov 2 home to st. mary's square

Walking home from shopping in town passing church on the right . . .

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Fairy1Charm is a dime a dozen in the United Kingdom, I think you will agree. This is just a normal house in a normal town on the Fife Coast in Scotland (highly recommended) that just coincidentally shadows word home sweet homehas bunting draped across the street. Perfectly normal. But doesn’t it make you wonder who lives there? I love the putty color, the red door and the step roof.  Scotland, land of  Highlands and Lowlands, lairds and lasses, pipes and lochs, legends and faeries, shepherds and dogs, castles and plaids, bagpipes and unicorns, castles and cottages.

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This is another house in Scotland. Looks like not too much from the outside,  but it was one we could go in, because it’s part of the Highland Folk Museum ~ 30 historical buildings that show how Highland people lived and worked from the 1700s up to the 1960s. Lots of interesting homes here, and best of all, they are all furnished and you can go in! Here’s what this little house was like inside:

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Sweet and simple. The people who decorated these houses for the museum worked hard to collect just the right vintage for each house.img_2227They kept it real so we could get a flavor for the times, running water and everything. This would have been an amazing luxury compared to some of the houses we saw there. wooden-spoon

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Like this one, for example. I’ll have to do a whole blog on this Highland museum, because there were some fascinating things there I know you would love. They were re-thatching this 17th  century house in several colors of heather which sheds most, but unfortunately, not all, of the rain which Scotland is somewhat famous for. october-2010-462These stone houses were amazing. Living here was NOT easy. There was an open fire in center of the one big room, smoke was everywhere, but supposed to go straight up through hole in roof. The homeowners and their children would have sat on wooden benches around the fire, cooked either in a pot that hung from chain over the flame, or on a huge hook that hung from another chain. There was no heat or light except the fire, no windows, no running water, and btw, no bathroom. Eeeek. This is precisely why I steered clear of every stone circle we came to. I touched nothing. With my luck I’d go back in time and there would be no Jamie, only motherhood, trying to keep the kids out of the fire, in one of these wet, drafty, dark, dirt-floored houses while hanging naked rabbits on hooks. We have it so made, Girlfriends.

house Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Anne Hathaway married William Shakespeare in 1582. This was her family’s picturesque twelve-room, thatched-roof farmhouse in Stratford-Upon-Avon where Will came a’courting. It’s open to the public, you can wander through it and around the lovely gardens, but watch your head.img_0842

Though the timber-framed 500-year-old rooms were many, they were made for very short people, and rambled from level to level.

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We also went to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace ~ when we walked in the door to get our tickets, these three women were already singing the Star Spangled Banner! 🇺🇸I don’t know why! They didn’t even know we were coming!🎵  We immediately joined in and that made us all laugh. So cute! I think they liked their jobs!

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There were costumed docents in the house where Shakespeare was born, full of detailed information, bringing history to life, telling the story of the place where William Shakespeare did his childhood dreaming.Dreamers

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I loved the bonnet she had made and embroidered and asked for a closeup. She was embroidering a little bag to match when we walked into the room.

img_6159This of course isn’t a house … just something I saw in one of the villages as we were driving by … a luv-lee decoration on the second floor over a bookstore. Wonderful, eh?

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Tudor style hotel! Built around 1500! Still standing, loved, used, appreciated.

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This is the famous city of Bath (“Bawth”), we stayed in the house with the black door. There was a darling little shop on the ground floor, we had the three stories above where we celebrated Rachel’s 50th Birthday. I’ll have to do a whole blog about that too!

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Coming out of a pub driveway, this darling brick house was just in front of us. Good spot. Live there, cross the street for lunch, go for a walk out back.

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And this adorable loaf-of-bread cottage was just around the corner from where we stayed in the tiny village of Chacombe. I could happily live here, wear 1940s aprons, make Hot-Cross Buns and Victoria Sponge for the church, drink tea from a chipped crockery cup, and ride a cock horse to nearby Banbury Cross to celebrate Remembrance Sunday.

In the middle ages, every workman was an artist. Wm. Morris

So true, but William Morris did not have this ⬇️and I know he would have LOVED it:  MUSICA

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This traditional oast house was a discovery on one of our walks … first through a field of cows and then past this wonderful place.img_0811

Had to show you these chimneys! Building was a little hit or miss in the old days. Nothing seems to stop anyone, not roof heights, not beams, not levels and they felt perfectly fine building a house with a much bigger top than bottom. The rules were different. You did what you needed to do, even if it meant this.

There ain’t no rules around here, we’re trying to accomplish something! Thomas Edison

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Walking to Rachel’s house from town, crookedness at its most charming best. Another Tudor style house on the left.

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This is one of the manor houses near Bolton Abbey (some of the most romantic and prettiest walking country there is),  just south of the Yorkshire Dales. . . and owned by the Duke of Devonshire since 1775. (See the duck in the grass?)

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I’d be perfectly happy with the little house on the right. Excellent location!

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Or this, pure charm, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere in the Lake District. We went here in 2012 ~ it’s the first home of William Wordsworth where he moved in 1799; planted flowers and vegetables, watched birds and butterflies, read, talked and wrote some of his most famous poems. ruralenglandistoobeautiful

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Just another example: in England they can put a garden on a postage stamp!  Sometimes less! Climbing roses grow out of cracks between sidewalk and foundations!address word home dreams

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Purely pretty. Like the rest of the country, all handmade, no two houses alike. No two windows, or roofs or chimneys are exactly alike because the hand of man is all over this place!home mug

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Box of chocolates

Another drive-by. I was thrilled that this wasn’t too out of focus and you can read the name on the garden gate of Buttercups Cottage! I mostly just hung out the window with my camera all the time, because, as everyone who’s traveled through the English Countryside can tell you, this kind of charm isn’t just here and there, it’s EVERYWHERE.domesticity

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Luv-lee Lacock, a mostly 18th century village owned by the National Trust.

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This was the house I thought perhaps we should have as our clubhouse. What do you think? Knitting lessons every Thursday afternoon? Sunday dinners at 4?

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. William Morris.

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One more drive-by shot, look at the fox and ducks on the roofs! Look at that thatch design ~ not a fancy house, just a perfect house . . . had to have a photo…

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A nice little neighborhood . . . imagine the road is dirt, now picture the people walking by in 1806, carrying baskets, there are horses and wagons, food comes in pots, tins, boxes, and barrels and no one here ever throws anything away! img_1973

Honey Cottage, home sweet home.tea

Paul Revere's house

Just so you can see how England brought their architectural sensibilities to America, this is where Paul Revere lived during the Revolutionary war. The house was built in 1680 and is the oldest surviving structure in downtown Boston. It’s made of wood, because there was lots of it in the New World and not so much heather or Cotswold stone.

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And this is another luv-lee old New England house ~  we have many beautiful historic homes here ~ beautiful in all seasons, but in the fall, they shine.prayer for a little home

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In the winter too…. here’s Louisa May Alcott’s “Orchard House” where she lived with her Marmee, father, and sisters in Concord, MA. Open to the public for tours.Staygladys house

And Gladys Taber’s 1690 Stillmeadow Farm  . . .Gladys was born in 1899 and wrote lots of wonderful homey stories about life in her Connecticut house.Gladys Taber

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Another Massachusetts Charmer.

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Then there’s this one, our house in the snow.beatrix-potterHome sweet home

I’ve always loved painting houses for my books and calendars …

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I was even able to send love of houses to the far east via the Chinese edition of A Fine Romance!

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Home All my best to you Girlfriends, happy home, happy life!  🏡 Thank you again for your wonderful comments! 💛 Shall we go to Highclere Castle next? 👑 Or maybe to Carrie’s House in Oxford? 🇬🇧 Or, perhaps we go to Bawth and make dinner 🍾and decorate for Rachel’s Birthday?💐 Or, shall I make you some short ribs in a crock pot right here in my own kitchen?🍽  You choose! Bye for now❗️  Hopelessly devoted to you . . .  ❌⭕️

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655 Responses to CELEBRATING HOME

  1. sandy farrell says:

    I too love little and big houses and was charmed by those in England, Scotland and Ireland…
    I need to tell you a family history tale of a ‘branch’ in my tree.
    I had an Aunt Olive who was my Dad’s oldest sister. She went to work at a Woman’s Facility and met a guy named Lester.. Lester’s last name was you guessed it…Branch…so when they were married she became Olive Branch..I’m pretty sure you became Susan Branch through marriage too. I’m relating this to you because I will probably never see you long enough to tell you this story in person. I shared it with a good number of people but never another ‘branch’.
    May you have a great Christmas and New Year, and keep blogging.

  2. Troy Louise says:

    What a beautiful post. I loved every word. I love houses of all sorts too! I especially like the sweet ceramic ones that hold a tea light. Thanks for showing so many fun homes. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Paul Revere & Louisa May Alcott homes & hopefully will get to Great Britain soon to see some of those you’ve shared. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season in your lovely home. Big Hugs!

  3. Donna Moos says:

    Oh Susan! My daddy was a builder, which gave me a lifelong love of houses as well, especially small cottages with candles in them! Thank you for the loveliness that you bring to my life every time I read your blog, or open one of your fabulous books ❤️️I didn’t get a chance to comment at the time, but thank you also for your post after the election, it was so spot on, and so appreciated!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Donna, I love having YOU here! Builders of good strong homes, for families and life, must feel so good about what they’ve left behind. xoxo

  4. Jan Manley says:

    Oh my! I love the little cottage in Chacombe and the Cottage with the fox and ducks! I LOVE collecting little Houses and especially little Churches! We little in a little farmhouse! Thank you for sharing all of the wonderful posts of your travels.
    Congratulations to Sandra and Joy!
    Merry Christmas Susan, Joe and Jack!
    Merry Christmas girlfriends!
    xoxox

  5. Gayle Hall says:

    Oh how happy am I……..my friend Susan came to visit me today. She brought beautiful words and lovely pictures of homes and wisdom to savor. It is very cold here today, with snow of a great amount expected over the next few days for the third time already this season. Even though I was not one of the winners of the giveaways I feel so fortunate to have the gift of receiving your wonderful letters. I savor each of your letters and re-read them till new ones arrive. And anytime you would like I will be glad to join you for that pot of food, but would,be just as content with a wonderful warm cup,of tea. I’ll bring the desert to go with. As a lifetime desire to see Martha’s Vineyard nothing would thrill me more than to visit you also. But for now I will close with a sincere thank-you for all you do to cheer all of us Girlfriends with your wonderful Blog. With warm hugs from Gayle Hall

  6. Barb Lyons says:

    I always love your posts, always but this might possibly be my favorite. These pages are filled with the most charming houses!! I have a few small houses myself and have been enthralled with houses, homes my whole life. Thank you for this wonderful look at English homes. Can’t write more, I need to look at all of them again!🤗

  7. Sondra Harrell says:

    Susan, I became homesick for England after seeing the house pictures. I have only been to Great Britain once, but I loved it. I was fascinated by the thatched roofs and how close the houses were to the roads. I visited the Mediterrean area this fall (while you were on your England trip) and while it was a lovely trip give me England anytime. There is absolutely no way to describe how every house is different and how old they are unless you see them close up. Had lunch in one of Beatrix Potter’s farm houses that she owned (but didn’t live in). It was built in the 1600’s and just a delight to be in. Oh, to be in England again!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, to imagine a whole country where every single thing you see, almost everywhere is totally handmade, it boggles the mind. Oh to be in England again! XOXOXO

  8. Sharrie says:

    I guess I need the crock pot shortribs! I’m still without an oven. :/

  9. Hannah says:

    The neighbors probably think I am creepy because every time I take a walk I just have to look at everyone’s house. I have always loved homes just like you! This post was right up my alley.

    • sbranch says:

      As long as we’re not casing the joint, I don’t think there could be a creepy thing about it!!! 😀

  10. Melissa (from eastern PA: formerly of the Midwest) says:

    My vote is Crock Pot Ribs at your house! Thanks for sharing.

  11. susie brey says:

    Awww! What a wonderful experience today reading your blog. So glad you are back..all is well with the world now..I love driving around with my hubby and looking at homes and trying to get a glimpse of what is inside and how those people live. Looking for magic and it is always just a doorstep away. Crazy huh?? Loving my life..

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe. Have a wonderful holiday!!

  12. Charissa says:

    An absolutely perfect post for this time of year and sooo cute and cozy!!! I am having severe back problems and not able to do any decorating this year at all (I am normally the most decorated house I know and It really hurts because it is such a joy to me.) I am not supposed to b typing at all either, BUT this post (and the last one too) really helped:)) i am trying to enjoy the more simple type of coziness, HYGGE than I am used to, using only the essentials music, candles, tea, reading material,the fireplace, and frame of mind. This is probably a good thing. Your post is absolutely gorgeous!!! You never fail to inspire or deliver a dose of just what I need. Thank you for sharing with us. You are a treasured part of my life. xoxo

    CONGRATULATIONS to the winners!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Charissa! Every so often we just have to take the day off! You might need a recorded book to lull you away from it all. Sending very soft and gentle hugs and cheek kisses to you, be careful, and get well soon. xoxoxo

    • mary spring says:

      ..oh, Charissa !!..’so sorry to hear about your back pain !..that can be so difficult !! ( I don’t know about the severity of your pain tho awhile ago I had very strong lower back pain and yoga for back pain helped trememdously !! ).. I sincerely hope you are getting relief from your pain soon !!..love and prayers….

      • Charissa says:

        Thank you so much, Mary Spring! I will look for that type of yoga. I have tried everything I know and nothing is working… including the injections I just had:(, but I will not give up!!! Thank you for your kind note xoxo

  13. Mary/Indiana says:

    Loved the House pics! I would like to suggest a calendar of just English cottages!
    I would be 1st in line to buy one!

    Thxs!

  14. Sharon Hermens says:

    Good morning, Susan.
    I just read your blog on all the wonderful houses you visited and took pictures of on your trip.. Loved it! I love houses as well. My husband bought me a stone cottage in Clyde, TX about 5 years ago. I don’t live there full time. I go for about a week every month. We gutted it down to the Shiplap walls and had someone flip it for us. It truly is a rare find. The outside has all kinds of trinkets, porcelain figurines, pieces of carnival glass, teacup handles, a Shirley Temple glass, everything you can imagine tucked into every nook and cranny of the mortar of the house. Wish I knew how to send a picture…
    Anyway, I wanted to tell you about two water color prints by Walter G Walker I purchased for 15.00 each at an auction house in a town just east of Arlington. They are two cottages.
    Alas, don’t how to show them to you. Someday, perhaps. I know you’ll love them.
    Thank you for sharing you vaca with us all. Someday, I’d love to go to the country side in England. Bless you and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year with your family and lived ones.

  15. Jan says:

    Susan, thank you for “reminding me” how much I love houses! I’ve owned 6 houses that my husband and I turned into homes, thanks to promotions and transfers of my job. There were smiles, and oh there were tears, but all in all, they were so worth it! Thank you, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      There is always one reward in moving, even when you really DON’T want to go, and that is getting to decorate a new home! xoxo

  16. Oh yes, we have thatched homes in the USA and have had since the newcomers found the Powhatan Indians of Virginia living in thatched dwellings.
    More recently, Mr. McGhee moved his business from England to Tennessee and is doing quite well. www/thatching.com is his website.

  17. Rose says:

    I asked before to see what kind of houses are around you,k do you live3 in a “neighborhood? Is there a house across the street? I , too, love looking at houses. Maybe you replied to me already, How does one know if you reply, do we have to keep scrolling through the comments to find it? I am not too good at coputers, but I ALWAYS look forward to seeing your stories about what is going on.

    • sbranch says:

      I did reply to you about my neighborhood, mentioning that Joe’s sister lives across the street from us … I think some of our other girlfriends know how to find comments, but I’m not sure … and if I need to go back, I usually scroll through. There has to be an easier way! Thank you Rose!

      • mary spring says:

        ..hi Rose.. just write down the date and time that you “comment”..it’s easy….and wait patiently till your comment gets moderated…

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Mary!

          • Carrie says:

            If you have a PC, hit the control (ctrl) key and F, (for find). At the top of the screen is an open field. Enter whatever your search item is; for instance, put your name in and hit enter. It will show how many times “Rose” appears on that page. You may then hit the arrows to proceed to each time “Rose” appears. If Rose is not on that page you may advance to the next page and repeat.

            If you have a mac, it’s command and F and then enter your search word in the open field at the top right.

            Hope this helps.

          • sbranch says:

            Now that is the HANDIEST trick I’ve seen all day!!! Thank you Carrie!

  18. Debbie Boerger says:

    OK, Miss Susan. It’s the Ides of December. Time for you to take a break. I’ll bet the Girlfriends would be happy to content ourselves reading through the hundreds and hundreds of recent comments and your responses…and touring the houses again. Or reading older Willards. Besides, most of us are busy with our own Christmas preparations….whew!!!
    We love you,
    Debbie in Tampa for now

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve just had the most wonderful Christmas day yesterday and are still off-island, going home this morning. Trapped because of high winds and the ferries were canceled! But warm in a hotel room, all is well! xoxo

  19. Debbie A says:

    Love the cozy cottage ‘s on your tour and short ribs are perfect on a cold winter day!
    Thanks for such cheerful words.

  20. Debby says:

    Just read on Twitter that you are going to Boston for Christmas lunch…didn’t I read that one of your first dates with Joe was in Boston during Christmas time? 🎄😬

    • sbranch says:

      Our first date was in Boston, but it was in February. Yesterday was our Christmas gift to ourselves. Lunch with Island friends, and then a visit to a convent to see some very dear people. It was amazing, so much so, I’ll be doing a post about it soon. You’ll love it.

  21. M. says:

    Dear Susan, glad you had such a wonderful trip. Two things:
    – the sound of church bells on the hour and half hour was one of the things my mother missed most when we left Europe for Canada
    – The black and white embroidery brought back a trip to Baths’ fabulous costume museum (one of the best in the world) where you can see other beautiful examples of black and white embroidery – very popular in Elizabethan England.
    Thanks again for you lovely blogs and wishing you a festive holiday and a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year.,

    • sbranch says:

      The churches are everywhere, the bells go day and night, I can imagine what a loss it would be for someone who grew up with them! Thank you for the good info about the costume museum in Bath!

  22. kim j says:

    obsessed with MV book…thank you~

  23. sonja says:

    Thank you Susan for the lovely post and pictures, I love houses too. I do a lot of reproduction needlework samplers and the ones that I’m drawn to are the ones with houses. Funny how our minds latch onto things to love!! I loved the picture of Owl Cottage, was that in Scotland? We are planning to go to Scotland on our next trip and are looking for a cottage to rent for a couple of weeks. All of the pictures are wonderful, keep up the good work with your blog, I always love it.

    • sbranch says:

      Owl Cottage was in England … You’ll find lots of rental possibilities for Scottish cottages if you Google. Thank you Sonja!

  24. Lucinda says:

    Dear Susan,
    You MUST write your next book chronicling your travels in the U.K.! For so many of us who dream of a trip to our beloved land, your insight and experiences would be such a guiding torch and invaluable resource! When I read of your travels and marvel at your experiences I cannot even imagine such loveliness- but I can dream that someday I will be able to have my very own U.K. adventure. I have been able to trace my ancestry back to the 12th century in England so I know there is a reason I feel such an affinity for everything British! Thank you for bringing it all so lovingly into my home through your beautiful words and pictures. I love your blog and your gifts that you share so sweetly❣️

  25. Margaret Matlock says:

    Love your blogs! Love the picture of Stillmeadow. In 2008 I stood by that fence and smelled the lilacs. It was a dream come true.

  26. Good Morning Susan! Congratulations to Sandra and Joy! YAY!!! And thank you, Susan, for the wonderful runner’s up prize of getting to see all of the BEAUTIFUL, heart warming homes. I loved each and every one of them. Here’s wishing you and Joe a very happy holiday season! HUGS!

  27. winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh how I love the houses in England and Scotland with their thatched roofs, old Tudor timbers, old cobblestone roads outside the door, and doors that speak to a time when average folks were not very tall. The charm, the coyness, the beauty of years of tending and families. It is such an opportunity to experience them because of their antiquity. I am fascinated how people still live in them with very few renovations too. What a charmed life that feels like it would be!

    I am fascinated with American log cabin living. To me they are beautiful in their simplicity and ruggedness. So many features were created from the necessity to “make do”. I’ve always wanted to live in a log cabin and make it cozy and homey!

    Congratulations to our winners. Enjoy!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Have you ever seen the reproduction log cabin that Abraham Lincoln grew up in? It’s at his library in Springfield IL, and really interesting, of course! I think you’d love it Winnie! My girlfriend Margot also lives in a log cabin that she has made amazing. Have I ever shown those photos? xoxo

  28. Sandi says:

    Such a nice visit with you! Please come to the Cape and visit our beautiful thatched roof Christmas Tree Shop at the Sagamore Bridge! A crew from England came across the pond to make it when the building was first built. So grab a ferry, come across the sea and visit me and the beautiful thatched roof!

  29. Marty from NYC says:

    Hello Dear Susan:
    Just wanted to wish you , Joe, Jack and the Susan Branch fans a warm, peaceful and joyful holiday.
    Friends, Family , Home couldn’t be better, but if someone out there doesn’t have these treasures, be sure to make your own day special-see something beautiful in Nature, feed something to the birds and squirrels, regardless of your specific faith or lack of it, drop by a church for a carol sing , count things to be grateful for and give hope a chance to blossom. Hugs to all–Marty

  30. Terri J. says:

    I love homes too…they make my heart sing.

  31. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    I haven’t time to read the whole Blog right now, but I really enjoyed a scroll through all the house pictures!! I will come back later when I have time to savor the text :) I live in “Wynne Cottage” (our tribute to my husband’s Irish and Scottish ancestors). My husband made a beautiful sign and mounted it on the front wall of the house. I , too, have always been fascinated by houses (and their inhabitants) since I can remember. Growing up in a very small trailer (7 of us in 28’x 8′ size) I began drawing pictures of trailers with two stories so we could have more room. A child’s imagination:) When I was 7, we moved to a big house of 960 Sq.Ft with a huge yard. Heavenly! I adore our retirement “cottage” – not exactly small. but just right for two. Merry Christmas Susan & Joe!!

  32. Koreena Ralston says:

    Congratulations to the winners! Happy Holidays to everyone here as well! Those houses are so gorgeous, this is the only time of year I wish we had snow here. But, alas, I will sit here with the A/C on and pretend while I read some Jane Austen on her birthday. I hope your tea party goes well in her honor!

  33. Jean Admire says:

    Your many houses charm, astonish, and comfort — much like the many-shaped little boxes that adorn my life: filled with tiny treasures, memories, and bits of sweetness that otherwise might roll under the desk or behind the dresser.

    Like your beloved homes, these little containers have traveled with me from all over the globe. Now they reside in Taos, NM, reminding — any anyone foolish enough to inquire! — of their story. Aren’t we lucky that these small reminders of BIG travels fill empty corners of our homes?!?

  34. Lauri Hyde says:

    Hi Susan,

    I wanted you to know I just heard our still-president Obama just say what you have been saying about not allowing our partisanships to divide us! Boom! There it IS. I think you should feel very very validated and vindicated for all that you stood up for in the face of opposition even among your own. If that isn’t something to bask in and soak up, I don’t know what is. To be honest, I’ve been so distracted with everything I haven’t had a decent chance to look at your latest gorgeous blog a fair review. I want to sit down with it once I have a clear head. For now, I thought there was much more urgency to tell you that YOU WERE RIGHT.
    And I know that because our president SAID SO. So there! To your naysayers I say bah humbug! And you my dear girlfriend, may I wish you a very merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year! And may I throw best wishes for a Happy and PROSPEROUS New Year at that!

  35. Debbie says:

    Susan is that The Foodie Bugle I spy in the photo of your apartment in Bath? I’ve been following them on instagram for a year or so. I was in Bath 12 years ago and fell in love with the city. Seeing it through The Foodie Bugle lens makes me remember all the little charming details of that trip. Although she wasn’t there when we were there it makes me happy to look at her pictures and dream about going back and stopping in to see the new shop. Thanks for sharing your travels and your life with us. Glad you are home and hope you and Joe have a very Merry Christmas.

  36. Fifi says:

    Susan-
    I think you have hit upon a fabulous idea for your next book! Houses in all sizes, formats, renderings, variations, and depictions- included simply because you love them.
    Sign me up!

  37. Phyllis says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just wanted to thank you for the book! My sister and her husband took the very same cruise you did- in the same kind of cabin as well. I had told her you would be on board and so she went to your talk. She loved it, and bought “A Fine Romance” which is very kindly signed to me. 🙃
    Two degrees of separation!
    Merry Christmas and the best of New Years.

  38. Helen Rusert says:

    Such a soul-soothing place your posts take me to. Thank you, Susan. Merry Christmas to you and Joe. 🎄

  39. Nancy says:

    Merry Christmas ! Susan and Joe
    I too am a fan of houses. Thank you for sharing those beautiful places. Before I saw the name I recognized Louisa May Alcott’s home, which I have visited twice. Little Women was my favorite book as a child, and I have shared it with my daughter and granddaughter.
    My house is an 1850 farm house which I love, and have always been drawn to old homes big and small. Thank you again. It was a treat to see all those houses from your travels.
    Happy New Year to you too!

  40. Hi there,
    Lovely post really enjoyed it. I love houses because they frame the stories of peoples homes. I walk my neighborhood and there are houses I try to go by everyday, some of the people I have met. It is also great to see how they are decorated for all of the holidays. Looking forward to the Holidays, from my home to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to you and Joe.
    Hillaire Gallagher

  41. Kay says:

    Thank you for starting my snowy day so perfectly! I was last in England in 1982, the year Prince William was born. Your post brings back so many wonderful memories of spending a month traveling with a study group (composed mostly of English teachers) from the college where I worked. I actually earned college credit for having the time of my life!! We traveled in two vans, one driven by the professor and the other by his wife. Loved it when we stopped at a little pub for lunch and the locals first looked at us askance when we came in the door. But by the time lunch was over, we were all friends and, I hope, left them with a favorable impression of Americans. Your latest trip reminds me that, while we’ve been to Paris many times together, my husband and I have never been to England together (he was over there before we met). We must plan that trip. It would be fun to go now, like you, armed with my digital camera and able to snap pics willy-nilly. I had to carefully ration out my rolls of film so there’d be money to spend on other things. I’ve only just discovered you and your blog this fall and am enjoying my visits here immensely.

  42. Gwen Schwabauer says:

    In our house, there is a love of houses also. My husband expresses his love of houses by perusing Zillow, even though we have no intention of moving. I express my love of houses every December when I get out my Snow Village collection and set up a display on my dining room buffet. And whenever we are driving around a neighborhood, if one of us says, “That’s a Snow Village house,” the other knows exactly what is meant!

  43. Jenn Barker says:

    Oh! Yes, yes, yes- on that club house! I will bring lemon scones!

  44. salve stamatelaky says:

    “CELEBRATING HOME” blog is a scene: in bed, warm under the covers, and while it’s snowing outside, I am reading (again) your book ‘Fine Romance!’

  45. Suzette Shoulders says:

    I loved looking at all the big and little houses in England, and the ones in New England, too! My dear friend Jenny ( who gave me ‘A Fine Romance’ ) and I have been to England twice, over the past 16 years, and we plan to go this coming spring and see the home of Beatrix Potter, a dream of us both. LOVE your books and your blog! Christmas hugs, Suzette in Oregon

  46. Ginny Petitt says:

    Your post is absolutely beautiful! I love to just sit and listen to the wonderful Musica while I read your words! Your blogs always leave me with a warm, happy feeling! Your pictures of the English houses and countryside is one of the best! After going to England 2 times, it just give me a longing to go back there. Thank you for sharing! Hope you and Joe have the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years!!

  47. kim irey says:

    you should move to England.

    • sbranch says:

      We most definitely would if we were 35! Now we have too many loves right around home that we would miss too much to go.

  48. Susan Lance says:

    Your blog post on houses made me think of two books I love.
    The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Bracket
    Home by Carson Ellis

    See if they have them at your local library. They are also on Amazon. I think you might like them.

    Thank you for your house post!

  49. Arzella Moots says:

    I was in England in August and visited Shakespeare’s birthplace. What a thrill for this English major and lover of literature! My only regret was that the trip was too short. Maybe someday I can return someday to see more of that beautiful country. I loved experiencing your trip through your blogs and books. Thanks for sharing. Ss

  50. Coral King says:

    Dear Susan, you are my first post ever. We are same age! When I read your books, blogs and Twitter , I feel so young again.
    For 35 years I have lived in the sweetest country church I ever did see. The sun rises over the sea in the East and sets over the West mountain range. the southern alps in New Zealand. My garden has wild hedges of honeysuckles and wild roses. My garden is filled with sweet flowers and scents. My delicate long haired kitty was a rescue and fills my heart with delight. My husband of 55 years is ill but I can still care for him. Paris is favourite city. You light up my nights whenIfeelaone. Thank you

  51. Nancy Allison says:

    Some of our oldest sayings come from those houses you visited. Almost all village houses had thatched roofs 200-300 years ago. Dogs, cats, and other small animals often nested in the hay on the roof. This worked, except when it rained – the rain soaked the hay, and it often slid off, taking the squatters with it. They often ended up in the middle of the house, giving rise to the expression “Raining Cats and Dogs,”

  52. Carol On the farm in Iowa says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip and all the wonderful photos, you bring it in close and make it real for me.
    Merry Christmas! Love and hugs, Carol

  53. Carol On the farm in Iowa says:

    Forgot to vote, I want to come to your home for crock pot short ribs!
    It was -21degrees here this a.m. Burrrr

  54. Deborah In The Fields says:

    Thank you! Thank you! For the mini-tour of English houses. How delightful! It is a gift to see them through your eyes, truly.
    May your Christmas be blessed with family, with friends, with countless hugs and smiles, and with abundant health, gladness, and joy. And thank you for brightening my life with so much beauty, gentleness, and whimsy, and warmth. In a too-often-ugly world, full of angst, schemes, anger, suffering and sorrow, your blogs and Willards are truly a tonic for my soul. God Bless you, Susan. I cannot say Thank You enough.

  55. Linda says:

    Ha! “I steered clear of every stone circle we came to. I touched nothing. With my luck I’d go back in time and there would be no Jamie, only motherhood, trying to keep the kids out of the fire, in one of these wet, drafty, dark, dirt-floored houses while hanging naked rabbits on hooks.”

  56. Laurie Walt says:

    Public television has a show on about Beatrix Potters life!

  57. Janet says:

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing the charming and beautiful homes. Keep blogging about the love of home, simple, happy things … great recipes, tender thoughts and subjects that spread joy. You have a great way of looking at life. I love that you share it with us. I just blogged about my love of my home and decorating for Christmas with all the little homemade ornaments and gifts of friends and family.
    Merry Christmas.
    Holtonhouse.blogspot.com

  58. Sandy in KY says:

    Ooooooh myyyyyy! I’m going someday, I MUST go to England, and Ireland, and Scotland and…….? We built our own English style cottage four years ago on the farm my Mom and Dad left their three daughters. I’m so grateful for it and my family this Holiday season. I wish you and Joe the merriest of Christmases. May you enjoy many Joyful times with family and friends, quiet moments of Peace, and pause to remember the greatest of births this world has ever known. Love to you both.

  59. Lori B says:

    If you haven’t yet read ‘The Bookshop on the Corner’ by Jenny Colgan, you absolutely must! Books, Scotland, a gorgeous home, and romance :)

  60. Donna says:

    It’s all fabulous!

  61. Amylisa says:

    Hi Susan, I love this latest blog installment! I love houses too….we are lucky to have so many beautiful ones to see here in Massachusetts.
    I got your new 2017 calendar this past weekend, I love it….it seems to have a different feel to it this year, more muted colors, etc. I have loved them all but I think this one will be a favorite! I want to make the Gingerbread recipe from the November page right now! :) Is that allowed? lol

    • sbranch says:

      I think this one is my favorite too! But then probably next year’s will be my new favorite…I’m just starting to paint for it now. Thank you Amylisa…go for that Gingerbread, next November is a long way away!

  62. Willemien says:

    Dear Susan,

    Those houses! All look so nice, imagine how they look now with Christmastime coming, candles and warm cosy fireplaces. We’re recovering from the flu. Wishing you a Happy Christmas together with your Joe and kittys and family.
    I have put on some Christmas songs on the radio and am decorating our room with green/ pinetree, smells great!
    Lots of love from the Netherlands
    Willemien

    • sbranch says:

      Us too, lots of fresh snow-cold pine just coming in the door from my Mr. Claus. Love back to you Willemien!

    • HveHope says:

      Thrilled, Willemien, to see a real Dutch-woman comment here!! Your comment in itself has made me feel ‘Gezellig’! :) Shows Susan’s Girlfriends really are Kindred Spirits. 😉

  63. AngieTink says:

    #MerryMonday Sweet~Elf~Sue….I’ve Just Sipped An Entire Cuppa~Hot~Chocolate As I Read This Wonderful~Blog…. :-) (Finally Had The Time) :-) #Congratz To Sandra & Joy #Very~Lucky~Girlfriends!!! :-) :-) I #LOVE #EveryHouse…. All Of Them #Enchanted~Cottages… Can You #Believe it is #OneWeek until #CHRISTMAS???? #Ho~Ho~Ho Sending Lots of #Kitty~Kisses & #WarmHugzzz To You #SweetElfSue & #SantaJoe & #MerryElfJack!!! #Purrrrrrrrrrrrrr 😉 #ElfHerbster And #ElfMe Say #MerryChristmas!!! #Eat #Drink & #BeVeryMerry #HoHoHo & a #Poof xoxo P.S. I Know #Santa Will Be Good To You! 😉 & #ThankYou For Sharing Your #Magic With All Of #Us! :-)

  64. Jennifer W says:

    I love houses! It was so much fun to see all different sorts of houses. I work for a construction company and we do many projects, but not houses. I think it would be great fun to buy an old house and breathe new life into it! Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and Jack kitty!

  65. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Jeannette from the Central Coast says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    December 16, 2016 at 11:11 am
    I haven’t time to read the whole Blog right now, but I really enjoyed a scroll through all the house pictures!! I will come back later when I have time to savor the text :) I live in “Wynne Cottage” (our tribute to my husband’s Irish and Scottish ancestors). My husband made a beautiful sign and mounted it on the front wall of the house. I , too, have always been fascinated by houses (and their inhabitants) since I can remember. Growing up in a very small trailer (7 of us in 28’x 8′ size) I began drawing pictures of trailers with two stories so we could have more room. A child’s imagination:) When I was 7, we moved to a big house of 960 Sq.Ft with a huge yard. Heavenly! I adore our retirement “cottage” – not exactly small. but just right for two. Merry Christmas Susan & Joe!!

  66. Peggy Willoughby says:

    Oh, Susan! Just heavenly houses. I have some Dept 56 New England houses and love them dearly. I have Christmas tiny lit up houses on my Christmas tree. I love houses as well. This blog with all the pictures is wonderful. Thank you. I often people watch and wonder what their homes look like. I love house tours and my daughter-in-law and I went to a Candlelight Christmas House Tour in Wilmington, NC this year. I love looking at everyone;s things. Thank you for this.

  67. Mary Pearman says:

    Please tell us about the Chinese edition! How do you find out that the Chinese would be interested enough to warrant a translation of your book? How does that happen? Are these books being sold in China or are they targeted to those who come from China but are living in America, Canada, England, etc? I have no problem imagining Germans wanting to read your book or the French. But the Chinese? I had two friends who spent 3 weeks in China this past summer. They saw the Terra-cotta Warriors, The Great Wall, rode the bullet train — had a wonderful time. However, I didn’t get the impression that the Chinese people they met would be reading an American travel journal/memoir. I don’t know why this fascinates me. I guess it’s silly. Anyway, I love your books, your calendars, your blog, and your stickers. Everything I’ve ever ordered from you, actually. Love, Mary🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I was contacted out of the blue by a Chinese agent who said she had a Chinese publisher interested in the book. They’re ONLY sold in China as far as I know… we happened to get a few at my Studio, but they are all we’ll ever have. I did send one to a library near Boston where I heard they had a large Chinese population. Lots of Chinese traveling more than ever, and apparently they love England as much as we do. It was a thrill for me, the first of my books to be translated into another language. They worked hard on it too, as you can imagine, considering the fact that it was hand written, they had to retype the whole thing in their “country” (as they put it) font. I was rather fascinated too, Mary, so I understand! xoxo

  68. Margaret says:

    How absolutely lovely! I thought I was a little nuts collecting miniature houses, so glad I have several hundred kindred spirits out there. Have you ever been to Green Gables on PEI? That’s on my “list”! Loved visiting the homes in Great Britain, so glad I was able to fit in the suitcase! Homey Hugs!!!!

  69. Ginny Evans says:

    Soul-soothing wonderful words, resonating content of homey wholesomeness and pictures that bring tears to my eyes (miss living on the east coast seeing this houses and wish I could return to England/Scotland soon!). Thanks for sending your Blog today. Houses are clearly huge to many of us. That’s what I love about everything you do, Susan–it is just what we all crave in our hearts. Thanks for helping give us the feeling, so we can try to bring that feeling into our own homes. You’re the best!

  70. jeanie says:

    What could be lovelier than to see some of the most beautiful, imaginative, charming and quirky homes? I love the thatch and the kitchens so much. Your home in the snow — exquisite! And seeing Anne Hathaway’s home brought back fond memories of visiting there with my mother more than 40 years ago. Such loveliness here, but then home is one of the best words in the English language.

    • sbranch says:

      Tells so much about people, too. You can go into some of these homes that have been preserved because of previous owners, and feel their humanity.

  71. KAREN RUTH ULLOM says:

    This blog and given me one more reason to return to England, M’Luv. If you remember, you helped to to seal our dream to take the first trip there with my late husband by telling me me that YES we could probably take the Queen Mary 2 voyage as part of our trip if we were willing to stay in an “Inside Stateroom”. Yes, we were definitely willing and our voyage was marvelous!! On my next trip to New England I would definitely enjoy visiting some of the houses, etc. you showed us in this, in this wonderful blog. We were unaware some of these sites and am looking forward to seeing them in 2017. Thank you and please have a joyous and blessed celebration of this most sacred holiday.

    • sbranch says:

      I do remember of course, I love your joie de vivre, and the fact you made so much happen even in the difficult times, and then, in the good ones too. Blessings on you both, and happy dreaming for 2017!

  72. diana navarre says:

    Love the one with the fox on it – gorgeous houses everywhere – even in your own neighborhood!! Thanks for the tour

  73. Patti Fitzgerald from Skippack, PA says:

    Susan, this blog brought tears of joy to my eyes! You are truly my Kindred Spirit – the similarities between us never seem to end! I, too, have always loved houses, and all things home-related. Calling me a “homebody” is one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive! Thank you, thank you for sharing these lovely pictures, and for your cozy and homey blog.
    By the way, “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne is on right now . . . all those beautiful thatched – roof cottages . . . ah, be still, my heart! xoxoxo

  74. HveHope says:

    Your post reminded me of a couple (for me at least) sweet things…
    1. After we’d living in a house for awhile, I had the urge to ‘name’ our abode. The children were very much immersed in the Swiss Family Robinson book at the time and so I named it – Glen Verdant. The name of the area was (officially) called Wandering View and so it was ‘Glen Verdant at Wandering View’. Now, I have to admit that the house was in a major suburb of a big city, still, just naming the house made it feel ‘cozy’ (see #3.).
    2. When our eldest married (at the ripe age of (just)19 y/o! – to a lovely fellow from church), I was in a quandary as to what my new son-in-law(love) should call me. Using my first name seemed too weird for some reason – I wanted something that would reflect our becoming FAMILY to each other. Each of our children has had a special ‘name’ for me and the eldest’s was Marmee (from, you guessed it: ‘Louisa May Alcott…where she lived with her Marmee…”). This wonderful young man took me in complete stride and willingly calls me ‘Marms’. Though a little thing, it has opened our hearts to each other. ;).
    3. Hygge reminds me of a word that I grew up hearing from my Dutch parents – Gezzellig (Wikipedia says: Gezelligheid … is a Dutch word which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cozy, fun, or nice atmosphere, but can also show someone belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or the general togetherness that gives people a warm feeling.) Your blog, books and Willard all share that same trait, in my mind. Btw. you reminded me also of the gorgeous thatched roofs we saw years ago when visiting The Netherlands. :)
    Thanks for all the sweet thoughts your post engendered!

  75. Ginnie F. says:

    I didn’t comment earlier because my computer died on me. Now, with a new computer on board, I want to thank you so much for sharing all of your house pictures. I loved every one. Wondering if you’ve seen the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Bliss Victoria (I think I’ve seen your ads in there). My heart jumped when I turned the page to page 61. There is a picture of a beautiful thatched roof cottage doll house. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks like it could be homemade. It looks like the whole front of the house opens up and is kept closed with a little latch. So one-of-a-kind. However, there isn’t any mention of it in the article…such a shame.

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t seen that issue! I need to see if it’s somewhere in my mail, or maybe just go get it! Sounds like something I would love. Thank you Ginnie!

  76. jeanie says:

    Love all your wonderful houses, revisiting Anne Hathaway’s, a glimpse of British beauty — but especially the one you call home. Merriest and Happiest!

  77. Stacey says:

    Hi Susan!
    Catching up on your blog after the holidays…
    This was such a fun post and “right up my street” as they say in England. Having now visited the English countryside, your photos brought back some lovely memories. It’s astounding just how charming everything is in the UK! The thatch homes are my favorite…I read it’s tradition if you have a thatched roof to have a little animal or bird (made of thatch?) on the roof. The recreated Scottish homes you went into look verra interesting…loved the vintage details. Immediately thought of Jamie and Claire and the homes they lived in (in the book series). Yes, i agree…no time travel to 18th century Scotland unless you are guaranteed a Jamie Fraser!

    • sbranch says:

      That would be automatic #1! And even then, I would like a hot bath each day, which I’m SURE Jaime could provide!

  78. Lynda says:

    Hi Susan,
    Just wondering if you still own your cute little house on Martha’s Vineyard? Your first house.
    Happy New Year to you and Joe!

  79. Nancy G says:

    Love reading your blogs and Willard’s newsletter’s. I’ve been
    been reading them for a long time. Love your artistry it’s
    whimisical, it got me started drawing and making fairy gardens.
    Your artistry brings such happiness and joy to your readers.
    The little cottages in England are so quaint with
    the thatched roofs I saw Shakespeare’s home when I visited there
    would love to live in one. Have a great New Year🎉🌺

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