VERMONT SLEIGH RIDE, A VALENTINE’S DAY GETAWAY❤️

Oh Girlfriends, we’re going to have fun with this one. Last month our friends (and neighbors) Lowely and John suggested we all go on a Valentine’s getaway together, up to the big snow country of Vermont! What a good idea! Cozy fires, hot coffee drinks, flannel shirts, lots of barns (love barns, have a collection of barn photos, needed more!), Vermont maple syrup on our pancakes, who could ask for more? But there was more, there was a sleigh ride! And you’re coming along! So, here we goooooo! (It’s very long! Unhook the computer, take it to your sofa, get cozy with a cup of tea, and settle in for a virtual trip to luv-lee Vermont!)

MUSICA. It was, I admit, a wee bit hairy on the way up. There was a huge storm. It never stopped snowing and blowing from the second we hit the state line. Luckily Lowely and I were in the big back seat, sharing a cozy blanket, where we could see nothing, therefore could not comment on any sort of driving anomalies. Best for all involved. Trust being the main item of the day. We were strapped into a monster SUV of safety, which was filled with wonderful music! So there was lots of singing along. We had fun! Our map men did a great job, as I am reporting, now, alive, and back home, safe and sound, so it must be true.

And the snowplows were out in full force.

And when our windshield wiper stopped working, Joe popped out and fixed it! Because he can!

But it was gnarly sometimes. And did we mind? No, we just clicked away with our cameras! Lowely is a pastel artist and takes photographs for inspiration. I think some of our more out-of-focus photos look like paintings already! And I take pictures so I can show you! Look at this! Isn’t it beautiful?

 I’m always in the mood to share the magic when I see it! I think I forgot how BEAUTIFUL Vermont is. Red barns and red brick chimneys with smoke curling into the white sky ~ softly painted clapboard houses, and everything polka-dotted with snow.

Not to mention old covered bridges, 104 of them in Vermont . . . the most in all of New England!

I liked this photo because of the juxtaposition between the rearview mirror, the bridge opening and the GPS screen. Visions and views, old and new.

Most of the buildings had good steep roofs, and here you can see why . . .  the snow slides off in big sheets. Would not like to be under it when it happens!  But, then again, it might be fun (if it doesn’t kill you!).

From right out my car window. Lowely and I were always teasing each other, I thought she had all the “good stuff”  on her side, and she though I had it all! In this case, I was definitely the lucky one. But she probably had something just as good on her side, as you will see…. it’s all beautiful. Beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 🎶everywhere we go!

This homeowner put a pine-tree wind break around his house.  Isn’t it cute? Talk about Christmas! Look at the tiny green building on the right. Snow on roof tops is very pretty! These people would never have to worry about a Christmas with no snow!

Had to be careful though. See that pole in the middle of the church? Didn’t want that in the picture, had to snap it at just the right time! Luckily the icy roads slowed the car down! Look below ⬇️, the graveyards were lovely. My favorite part about anywhere I go is the history, and Vermont is old and wonderful and filled with history of our country, and the people who built it, mostly of course, immigrants! AND, related to us, building America, fighting for our country in wars and buried here. See the little flag? 💝

Even the smaller barns had cupolas and weather vanes on top. Why? Because they can. It’s small-farm country around here, and beauty, little graces, which we see everywhere, seem to matter. I always appreciate efforts of home owners who make the world a more lovely place to be. They have such power and often don’t even realize it, they do it because that’s just who they are.💞

And it’s big-farm country too . . . and pride makes them choose blue and red paint to make the whole world brighter.

So we toodled along, taking pictures of everything. Besides wood, which was plentiful in all the local forests, they also used lots of brick for their buildings.  This New England is as close to Old England as we can get in America!

Almost everyone has traded his wooden roof for one of these slippery metal ones where the snow can cause no water-intrusion problems for the homeowners.

Lots of the pick-up trucks come equipped with their very own snow plow! Smart! Taking no chances!

Sweet little log cabin in the woods. I will always be a lover of houses, all shapes and sizes.

Almost there! Our hotel is in Warren! In the Mad River Valley! Mad River, what a great name!

Just because it’s out of focus, doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful! By the time we got to the hotel, it was around 5 o’clock, and we had fallen madly in love with the whole countryside. MAS MUSICA? Oui! Favorite travel musica!

We’re there!

And this is our hotel. The Pitcher Inn in Warren, Vermont.  Plan ahead if you go there, because their hotel packages give a significant discount if you do! Romantic, perfect for Valentine’s, set in the smallest little town, but right in the middle of everything.❤️

Here’s the parking lot. With this darling little clock building in it, a converted barn we think is probably offices for the hotel.

And there’s our beast-like vehicle that got us here alive.

Here’s the view across the street.

Snowy Warren, Vermont, says, “welcome!”

Quite a cute little store attracting our attention across the street. Lit up with stars and twinkle lights. Looks like a country general store. Probably a good one. Note to selves, go here first thing in morning!

The hallway display on the way to our room.

Here’s the entrance, with a look into the dining room, and the stone fireplace far beyond. Every room had a fireplace of course.

Charming lighting in the hallway . . .

We unloaded our bags and went right down stairs to the cozy pub to drown our driving jitters in hot toddies and cold toddies and all the toddies in between!

Below, is one of the lovely views from our room. Note starry curtains.

And this was the ceiling. Painted with stars . . .

And this frightening thing with wild eagles on the posts, was our very comfortable bed, with ice cube light tables on both sides! You just never know!

And at the foot of the bed, this . . . a crackling fire made with white birch logs . . . Every night, or any time you asked, they would come and make you a real wood fire.

And this bathroom was SO good, I’ve never seen one like this. For anyone thinking about building a house, you might take a look at this! (The reflections from the windows behind me get in the way a bit, try to look past them.) For one thing, the entire floor is heated, including the tile in this glass room, which is totally enclosed, right up to the ceiling, with a glass wall and a glass door. On the left is the whirlpool tub (you see the bathroom counter in the reflection, but that’s the tub) ~ there are two shower heads, a really good drain in the heated non-slip tile floor, a steam control, so you can take a steam bath, and a little wooden seat on the right that folds down in case you are the sitting-steam-bath-shower type.  It’s very possible to spend the day in this room. I couldn’t help but picture my mom, who could only bathe three kids at a time, (all that would fit in tub, with her on her knees getting soaking wet),  putting herself and her babies in here for group shower! Would have been very handy!

From our room, looking across the street . . . colored lights. How could we not love this!

And here it is again, looking from their side back to our hotel . . .

Birch trees are snow art . . .

The dining room where we had breakfast every morning. Breakfast comes with your room: French toast or flapjacks and Vermont Maple Syrup, delicious coffee and ice-cold fresh-squeezed orange juice with all the delicious pulpy parts intact ~ poached eggs, all white and soft and juicy with yolk, and crunchy seedy toast, with jams and honey and every good thing, and so much more. Fruit and yogurt and granola too. . .

We were happy. Nicest guy waited on us. Remembered all our little preferences from day to day.

Then across the street we went through softly drifting snow to the “almost world famous” Warren Store, built in 1839 as a stagecoach stop, which, from all the action, people going in and out, seems like it’s probably the community center, both for locals and for our kind, the not-so-local, but-still-very-appreciative, too.

First thing I noticed, in all the cuteness of this store where they pretty much sell everything from groceries to home goods, clothing to champagne, with worn wooden floors, the fragrance of fresh coffee brewing, was the extremely hygge wood stove that you couldn’t help but cozy up to. (This store reminded me of the one in the wonderful movie Baby Boom, where Diane Keaton sold her Country Baby Food, remember? SUCH a good movie with a darling Vermont house in it, in case you haven’t seen it . . . you’d love it!)

These are my people. Lowely, Joe and John as we go upstairs to the WONDERFUL clothing store, where they also sell home things, like beautiful hooked rugs and pillows! I found a darling little wool vest up there.

Then there was this framed print hanging over the cash register that made me laugh.  So much, I had to go home and show it to Jack, and this is what his face did:

Did someone mention ball? Wait a minute, does someone have my ball?  Where is it …. you took it? You took it to Vermont and gave it to that strange zebra cat???? Jack was very confused.

They had children’s books too…isn’t this book cover adorable? Not to mention the play on words.  Had to take a picture of this!

A label on a box of chocolates. Quite cute. Have I mentioned how much I love barns and lettering?

Then it was into the car, and back on the road for a day of serendipitous meandering. And more adorable red barns (just like the one on the chocolate box!).

If you really want to get in the mood . . . look at this old video. Because on the actual day of Valentine’s Day, this is what we’re going to be doing ourselves… eeek.

Store window in the neighboring, somewhat larger town, of Waitsfield. X’s and O’s for Valentine’s day.❤️

Across from where Joe was walking is this wonderful store, All Things Bright and Beautiful, on Bridge Street. Filled with stuffed animals, and glass and wooden ornaments. Gaelic, the woman who’s owned the shop for 52 years, was there, making her homemade wooden ornaments.

And there were these . . .

And these . . .

And this . . .

And on Gaelic’s art table, was a box, with a cat in it! A word of advice: resist temptation! Do not put your hand in the box with the cat. #wordtothewise

He is waiting for you to try it. He had me so riveted on him, I forgot to take a picture of Gaelic making her wooden ornaments . . . but Lowely took this picture of a wall display . . .

So now we know how she does it . . . Nothing is what you think it is. The work that goes into all the lovely things there are in this world is phenomenal. This just proves it.

Next to Gaelic’s store is this bridge, 2nd oldest in Vermont,  hence “Bridge Street.”

We walked through it and around it, and on the far side, we looked across the snow meadow and there was this huge bonfire.

I know what my girlfriend Diana would say, she would say, “What would you do if you saw that?” Seemed like a pretty safe time to burn though, I could feel the heat from where I was standing. Had to video it!

XOX

See the snow coming down? All wonderful.

Perfect photo op.

And more meandering, more town, getting hungry . . .

Lunch started with a toast and four Bloody Mary’s!

Then more meandering . . .

Couldn’t drive past this sign . . .

Because what’s Vermont without cider and syrup, and these . . .

Legendary!

Cider donuts! Yum!

All kinds of goodies here . . .

Beautiful bottles ~ think I’ll get . . .

This! One Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Vermont Maple Syrup for me, and, one for you!!  Yes! A GiveAway! Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post (if you ever get there), and you’re IN!

Out, munching do-nuts, drinking cups of steaming hot cider, we slip into gallery, then back in the car . . .

for more red barns . . .

And green ones, and floaty snow flakes . . .

And picture-taking from open car windows . . .

It’s a big ski area up there . . . you may have heard of Sugar Bush and Mad River Glen . . .

And apparently golf is popular too! Though we did not see a lot of it going on!

The slopes were packed with brightly colored people!

The mountains are criss-crossed with ski runs and chair lifts . . .

And gondolas . . . to which, I say, thank you, but no thank you. My adventurous spirit, which brings me right to the edge, has its limits . . . I’m best in the lodge. With the cocoa. And the book. I can go, but drop me at the lodge and bring on the whipped cream.

Luckily, Map Man is right there with me . . . a lodge guy.

So, speaking of immigrants, we then arrived at the chalet of the famous singing Von Trapp Family (Yes, from The Sound of Music) who, with their ten children, left Austria just before WWII, and brought their American Dream to this gorgeous mountain top with the long views of Vermont and made it all come true.💞

They built this amazing ski lodge . . .

Always wanted to see this place and here we were.  If you are a skier, I would say this would be a wonderful place to come stay. As you can see, it wasn’t all snow and blizzard while we were there, it was sunshine too!

Now a quick word about stars.  Something about birch stars that the locals adore, because they are lit up and on everything. You may have noticed them on the Warren Store. Here are a few more photos to prove my point.

Upstairs and downstairs . . . I think they know that twinkles in the snow make magic! That’s why they do it!

And they are really everywhere . . . hanging from trees . . .

On barns . . .

All sizes . . . we think they make them from scratch from the trees in the woods . . .

Some more into it than others . . .

They don’t look store-bought, or uniform in size . . .

Little ones too. . . next to the cute blue door . . .

And even, or especially, in front of the wonderful New England churches . . . quite pretty. I could go on with stars, and restaurants and food and everything, but I think NOW is the time for the Main Event, our sleigh ride in the snow which I have been dreaming of doing for years . . . and now we finally did!!!!!! It was everything I hoped it would be for us four Valentines.❤️ And so nice to be able to take you Valentine’s along with us too!

MUSICA

Gentle Giants” in Stowe, Vermont . . . that’s the name of the sleigh people, and there’s their phone number . . . just in cases.❤️

We brought champagne with us, for before we got out of the car, for a pre-sleigh-ride warm-up and toast to Valentine’s and our wonderful friendship. (BTW, want to taste the MOST delicious champagne, that does not give me a headache like all the others do, costs about 7 dollars a bottle and is from Trader Joe’s? It’s called Amour de Paris (good name), is peach flavored, and I tell you, it’s good cheap stuff. Very celebratory! Perfect for brunch! Yum! Write it down! You’ll love it!)

Now we are happy! 💖

Joe goes in to talk about what we do next!

I go toward the horse. Horse sees me!

He’s coming! I’m happy.

SO beautiful

Much friendlier than the kitty in the box! Note feet (mine) in snow. But totally warm. Uggs boots. Oh yeah, only way to go!

We had a bag of apples and we forgot them! Don’t let this happen to you!

Boys… while we’re waiting  . . . (Hay truck, make a wish!)

So you can see. This is the basic lay of the land.  That little red house in the middle, the smallest one, was where Joe was talking to Rochelle our sleigh driver . . . and there’s the horse Lowely was petting off on the left. Isn’t it pure heaven there?

Lots of lovely horses here . . .

xoxoxoxo

So here’s “Jack” (another Jack, they are everywhere these days), our horse, being hooked to his sleigh. See how smart he is, when Rochelle asks him to move he does it in just the right tiny increment she was asking from him. I was thrilled when Rochelle put on the bells. I was so hoping there would be bells.

John is bringing his blanket. It belonged to his grandfather, we’ve had it in the back seat for the whole trip, and it’s definitely coming on the sleigh ride! Right, Lowely? Right!

And here we are, loaded up and ready to go.  They wrapped us in furry red blankets. We are toasty and warm, and just a few small flakes are coming down. It’s perfect. We’re really doing this!

XOXO

Here we go! Under the covered bridge . . . !

Look at Rochelle. Isn’t she the perfect sleigh driver? Her hair color is wonderful!!!! This is one of my favorite photos of our whole trip! I could paint her!

So into the pristine white woods we go, cold and crisp . . . see all those branches? That’s what you make those stars from!

As we walked along, we noticed there were lanterns hanging from the trees . . .

While watching little blobs of snow fall out of the trees and turn to powder in the breeze, I said to Rochelle, “How fun, do you go out in a sleigh at night?”

(See the lantern?) She laughed, and said, “No, we just put them there so you’ll think we do!” I’m confused. Is she messing with me? I’m a perfect stranger. There were candles in there! I still don’t get it! 😜

We were out there for about a half hour ~ we saw these cross-country skiers go by . . .

And one other sleigh . . . which was fun, because then we could see how cute we looked!

Delightful. You should do this if you can. Must be sleigh rides all over snow country no matter where you are. Imagine, if you are Louisa May Alcott, this is how you travel in the snow, not because you’re a dreamer per se, but because it’s your only choice after walking. And this is how you go to Boston too. And take your book, Little Women to the Publisher to see if they want to print it!  Which of course they do! ❤️ It wasn’t so long ago that everyone traveled like this, so all of Beacon Street would be sleighs and horses in the snow. This is one moment I’d like to slip back in time and take my camera with me.

They understand the value of RED in the snow. ❤️

But way too soon we were heading back for the covered bridge . . . Yes, we were singing Winter Wonderland to go with our sleigh bells ~ even Rochelle was singing with us. She must have heard people do that a thousand times, because you just can’t help but break into song. Never was there a more appropriate time to sing that song!

Time to go! ❤️

But not before a Valentine’s Kiss.😍 This was our 30th Valentine’s Day together. So lucky to be loving him.🎶 Came a long, long way to do it.

And good bye to Rochelle. One of the many things I liked about her, is how good she is with her horses. She takes wonderful care of them.💞

Back in the car once again, with back-row seat view to everything.

More wonderful scenery, colors in the snow…

Stars and frozen roads . . .

and luv-lee graveyards . . .

And road views . . .

Another truly delicious dinner, this time at the Common Man, just FANTASTIC. I have the menu, I took pictures of the food, I could show it all to you and go on (I was going to say “all day” but it’s already been all day!) and I’m afraid you may want to reclaim your life now!

So here’s our last glimpse of the winter sun . . .

Before we hit the road, because the blizzard started right up for our ride home. And the four friends were on the road again.🤞Fingers crossed for safety!

We stopped here at King Arthur Flour on the way home, a place Lowely and I had always wanted to see. Really interesting, they have classes there ~ would love to do that sometime, and lots of good stuff in the gift shop! But, blizzardsville, USA.

This was our boat ride home. The snow had stopped. It had been raining. We looked outside to this really strange sky. Finally went outside after remembering, “No, the windows on this boat aren’t tinted.” It was that under the total cloud cover, somewhere up there, must have been a gorgeous sunset, that made it’s way to earth in a giant, and I don’t get to say this often, Purple Haze!

HOME SWEET HOME, with Jackie cozying up to the heart dishtowel I bought at King Arthur Flour. What a wonderful time we had. Got a lot done in a very short time! We left on Sunday, drove all day, had Monday and Tuesday to Play, and came home on Wednesday.❤️ Perfect! Only 2 pounds heavier! Could be worse!

Hope you enjoyed our trip! Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’re interested in some Vermont Maple Syrup!  Be sure to heat it up before you pour it over your waffles or pancakes or French toast! Hot syrup melts butter, yum, rivulets! And, come again soon . . . next week we leave on the train for a cross-country trip out to California to be with my mom on her Birthday! Very excited. Will “Twitter from the Twain” along the way! Lots to tell you about still, but enough is enough is what I say! Love you! Byeeee!  P.S. Here are some interesting facts about Vermont I’m sure you would love to know!❤️

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1,886 Responses to VERMONT SLEIGH RIDE, A VALENTINE’S DAY GETAWAY❤️

  1. Joann Rotzell says:

    Everything you do and say is simply wonderful

  2. Susan Moeller says:

    madrivervalley.com/stars-mad-river-valley

    Hi Susan, this link will explain to you all those stars in the Mad River Valley. I counted 141 of them one evening on our drive from Waterbury to Hancock!

  3. Cindy says:

    The mugs are wonderful !!

  4. Pat Robinson says:

    Love everything you create!

  5. Susan Long says:

    I love the mugs! They are all adorable. I am so glad you had them made in England.

  6. Cynthia in NC says:

    Loved seeing the Sleigh Ride in the snow…..something else to add to my “Dream List”… As for the mugs, your creativity just gets better and better, Susan!
    Just LOVE them!!!

  7. Amelia Stewart says:

    Love, love, love this Blog! Love, love, love ❤️ the Mugs!! Hoping I win the Mug giveaway!
    Thank you Susan Branch! Happy Mardi Gras! 💜💚💛

  8. How I love to read you blogs and Willard! It always makes me feel extra good all day. Your books have a special place in my home, not in my bookcase but living on my coffee table so that I can pick one up, open any page and smile as I read. Now I have fallen in love with one of your “soon to be” cups, “In Love With Nature.” It will fit right in with my Beatrix Potter collection and will be perfect for my afternoon tea when I take time to just relax and read a good book, often one of my Gladys Taber Stillmeadow ones. So thank you for sharing your life and Joe’s with me and all your faithful readers.

  9. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Oh my goodness, I could have sat here all day getting lost in the beautiful scenery, I felt like I was there, had to snap myself back into reality, thank you so much for taking us along. And I think to myself……what a wonderful world

  10. Marcy Brenner says:

    Your things make me so happy! Thank you!

  11. Debbie George says:

    I loved your paper mock-up and then the real thing next to it. Always wondered if artists created a 3D paper design to show a manufacturer…and guess what? YOU Do! Yea!

    • sbranch says:

      I do, but I have no idea what other people do! That’s the thing about all this, each person, I believe, makes up whatever it is she thinks she needs to do to get something to happen!

  12. Mary Ellen Day says:

    Thank you for sharing your Valentine’s Day trip to Vermont. I felt like I was right there with you. You bring such joy into people’s lives….mine especially! Congratulations on your new line of English bone china mugs. I ordered my trio of mugs today (and a couple of other “must haves”) and can’t wait to get them. You are such an inspiration. Thank you!

  13. Susan Horner says:

    Oh my! The pictures of your adventure were magnificent…I felt as if I was there. I can’t wait to go there someday, as it is now on my bucket list!

  14. Marilyn Bennett says:

    Love LoveLove your mugs 💕💕💕

  15. Rebecca Sulcer says:

    I get such a warm feeling reading your blogs. Loved your Valentine’s Day in Vermont. I love the snow!! Your mugs are so charming. Hoping to get one!!

  16. Connie S says:

    Love the new mug designs!

  17. Nilah Edington says:

    Dear Susan,
    It’s always fun to hear what you’ve been up to. You bring a big “Energy Boost” to my day and remind me that I too have fun things to do.
    I’m experimenting with zentangles in my artwork -have you tried them?
    I LOVE NEW THINGS!!!
    Nilah

  18. Kathi S says:

    I left my heart in New England about 30 years ago. I moved there from CA and felt like I was going home… Sooo love it for all the reasons you have shown. Of course Baby Boom is my favorite movie — because it’s in VT!! I actually watched the credits to see where it was filmed, took a drive there to check it out! Have never had real maple syrup yet; too expensive! But the kind you go sounds really good! Sounds and looks like the PERFECT Valentine’s Day trip!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s expensive, but the difference is night and day, PLUS, you don’t (usually) use it all up in one day!!! It lasts forever in your fridge, but it’s there for those special pancake days! Makes a very good stocking stuffer just in case Santa is reading this blog!

  19. Thank you for the trip to Vermont! There is such beauty in simplicity. Oh, and your mugs are so lovely~ a perfect vessel for a great cup of tea.

  20. Glenda Slanina says:

    This is my very first post on ANY blog. I have been following your blog for so long now, as well as twitter. Your photos are wonderful and I feel as if I live on your beautiful island and travel along side of you and Joe. The English countryside is my favorite. Looking forward to more delightful adventures.

  21. Lisa Van Valkneburgh says:

    Dear Susan,

    I am relatively new to your blog and Willard, but I have five of your cookbooks (great recipes and artwork!) and all three of your memoirs. Your blog, Willard, and Tweets never fail to cheer me up!

    I am SO excited to read that a TV movie is in the works for your trilogy! I just hope it’s on a station that I subscribe to. I don’t get all the premium channels and would hate to miss your movie 🙁

    I am a 74-year-old grandma and still love making my home homey. You are such an inspiration! And, I’m a nature over just like you. Love the pics you send so that I can see how beautiful the East Coast is in every season. I’m a Northern California girl.

    Warmest regards,
    Lisa

  22. Lily K says:

    In Love with Nature is my favorite!! What’s yours?

  23. Holly Patrick says:

    I am beyond excited about the new mugs ( especially the nature mug), the Autumn book, and the new calendars!
    Blessings on your home,
    Holly in North Richland Hills, Texas

  24. Doris waggoner says:

    Thanks to your Mom for fridge quote.

  25. Della B. says:

    Such a romantic, cozy-wintery Valentine’s Day getaway! Thank for taking us with you❤️

  26. Della B. says:

    Such a romantic, cozy-wintery Valentine’s Day getaway! Thanks for taking us with you❤️

  27. ISABEL SIMPSON says:

    What a wonderful trip – your photographs and descriptions make us feel so much a part of it all.
    Vermont in the winter is now on my list of things to do.

  28. Tina Flynt says:

    Love the mugs! And Vermont looks so romantic! Especially, the sleighride!

  29. Elizabeth Smith says:

    Just love the winter and spring photos Can’t make up my mind which mug is the cutest I will need to clear out some mugs to make room for these adorable mugs

    Just a breath of fresh air to take a Susan Blog break in my busy day

  30. Dear Susan,
    I had forgotten about that method of starching. I may try it out again because the results are just so nice!
    I LOVE your sweet mugs, and they’re being made in ENGLAND! What could be nicer!
    I live on an island, too (on the other coast). I’m on the ferry now, on my way home, with time to enjoy your “Willard”. Thanks so much for that! It’s such a lovely respite.

  31. Peg White says:

    Susan:
    I am a new reader and fan of your Willard, blog and sharing spirit! This has brought me smiles, laughs, and inner warm as a read about your short ribs, Netflix favorite, and Train ride across America with a pot of tea. Love the new mugs and looking forward to pouring my own cup of tea in one of them!! Take care and please keep sharing; when I read your stories it brings me back to where I am at my best – thanks for all the special thoughts and stories, and I wish you a happy journey and wonderful spring and summer on the Vineyard!!

  32. Deb Smith says:

    My BFF, Wendy, and I have been your biggest fans (at least that is how we see it!) for years. We had the joy of meeting you and Joe in Illinois last May on your book signing tour. One of the highlights of 2016, for sure. When I read your books, I realize 2 things: 1. I need to slow down my crazy life….I am missing so much of the joy of just living. 2. I should definitely take more chances. You never know what might happen. Thanks for reminding me to do both things. You are a treasure and and inspiration. Can’t wait to order my S.B. mugs 🙂 Adorable!! Vanna and I have the same birthday, so maybe she will bring me luck when she draws the name of the winner. Thank you, Susan, for you. Deb

  33. Lynn says:

    Love your posts, stories, pictures and shares! I glanced at your favorite’s reading list and not surprised to discover that many of your best reads are mine as well. Merci!

  34. Carrie Cline says:

    I love the mugs!!! I so want to win 💓💓pick me please I’d be a very happy girl 🙌🙌🙌🙌

  35. Judy in Ohio says:

    Hi, Susan…What a wonderful Valentine’s Day trip ! 😀
    I think I am going to add this to my “Bucket List”…
    Just beautiful! (Remind’s me of an old-fashioned
    Christmas card!!) Yep! Gonna do it!!…Maybe I’ll
    go to the Norman Rockwell Museum while I am
    up there in the area…and handle 2 things on my
    “Bucket List”.

    Also (and this COMPLETELY off this subject, but…) I may have accidentally “found” a good actress to play YOU , if your books are indeed made into a movie!! If you do not think Ginnifer Goodwin is a good choice (as I mentioned in a comment here a looong time ago)…I saw an actress recently in a movie…Her name is Zoey Deutch (now 23 or so), and I just think that she would be a great actress to play you…especially at a younger age. I know you did not ask…but I would just feel awful if I did not say something.

    So, there you go,dear friend!

    Thanks so much again for bringing us such smiles and joy…
    Have a great time in CA…And HAPPY TRAILS!!

    (And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your mom!!) 🙂

    Take care!!

    <3

    • sbranch says:

      I TOTALLY agree with you about Zoey Deutch, she would be perfect!!! I’ll tell the screenwriter when we meet next week! Thank you Judy!

  36. Judy in Ohio says:

    GREAT!!…Good luck with all of that!! 😀

  37. sharon taylor says:

    Dear Susan,

    My daughter introduced me to your books about a year ago and I’m in heaven when I read anything you write. How I would love to write a tiny little bit like you do. You inspired me to join a class to learn how to do water colour’s. I’m at the wash stage!! And cats? I have four at the moment. There would nothing nicer for my wish to have tea and cakes and chat with you. I’m going to order some mugs for myself and daughter and calendars and books for gifts. Thank you

  38. Cheryl Goudy says:

    having a particularly rough week. Just life stuff. Your blog came across this morning. I’m spending the morning with my new baby granddaughter-4 mo new. Your blog came up in my email and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it this morning. New England is the one place I’ve never been in the US and so want to go. Especially for a SLEIGH RIDE. How truly marvelous. I use to live up north but now we are in Florida and I miss the beauty and the quiet and the “all things made new” by fresh snow. This has been a mini vacation for me. Thank Susan. I love your books and all that you do. Can’t get enough.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Cheryl, hope things take a turn for better, and get very springlike for you!

  39. Beth says:

    Went to New England (from Indiana) for the first time in Autumn 2015. Had to go back in 2016! Have now been to Boston, Salem, Martha’s Vineyard, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Loved it all so mush, especially the Maple Syrup! Loved your pictures of Vermont in the winter – want to go back in the winter (spring, summer or fall).

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you! It’s quite a little corner of the world there isn’t it! We also love Indiana, I have a good friend who lives there in a darling little house!

  40. Kathy Madigan says:

    Just ordered the three mugs set! Can’t wait!!

  41. Jan W. says:

    Love the darling mugs. I agree with others though that a teapot to go with the mugs is absolutely a ‘must’.

  42. sheri mason says:

    love the mugs!

  43. Jeannine Howell says:

    Your products are THE BEST!!!
    I love the blog and look forward to getting Willard in my email.
    I am so fascinated by all of your adventures. Take care

  44. Ferol Snead says:

    Hello Susan! Having just read your blog, I’m inspired by your suggestion to enjoy your life daily no matter how mundane it may seem. From cinnamon toast to new gingham curtains I vow to relish in it all!

  45. Toni Miller says:

    Hi Susan,

    Looking through the pictures and reading your blog is like taking a vacation. Thank you for all you do! Blessings to all from Toni.

  46. Suzanne Maven says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, for keeping me sane in this INSANE world we’re living in…..you bring me back to what’s really important in our lives….HYGGAE!! You are the original Hyggae girl!
    Love this issue of Willard! It made my heart sing….I can’t even begin to express how much I LOVE your mugs! OMG!! They are perfection! I’m preordering the Nature one now because I love the lamb and birds and everything about it! Thank you for the most lovely, sweet, precious gift of those mugs.
    Have a totally wonderful trip and visit with your Mom. Hope she is well and has many more good birthdays ahead!

  47. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Those mugs of yours are DARLING!!!! Would LOVE to win one. Praying for grace and many blessings on you and yours. Kisses and hugs for your Mom. Toni from Sylvania, OH

  48. Susan Stoeckl says:

    Thank you for this gift of a newsletter – best thing that has come via email in a while!

  49. Jennifer H says:

    The new mugs are perfectly dreamy!

  50. Jan Mercer says:

    Ohhh, I am so looking forward to the mugs arriving! Enjoy your trip to sunny, drenched California! Fingers crossed for your meeting with the filming industry!

  51. Julia B says:

    We haven’t gotten a cold or snowy winter down here in southwest MO this year…but morning tea is still delightful 🙂 🙂

  52. Deborah M Schwalbe says:

    How absolutely magnificent! Now I know I have to go there… We didn’t have snow the entire month of January or February in southeastern Wisconsin. Finally got some yesterday. Oh how I miss the beauty of it.

  53. Lynne Barlow says:

    You’re my kind of gal, bourbon flavored maple syrup!

  54. Rosemarie Lamb says:

    Wow! What a great trip that was!! LOL! But then I wouldn’t expect any less from you. Thanks so much for sharing. <3

  55. Sue says:

    They look great

  56. Donna says:

    Your trip looks lovely and oh so cold!

  57. Thelma Peterson says:

    Hope to see you at the Apple Farm event. You will be thrilled with the colors of green on the hills everywhere. It’s going to be a wonderful spring!

    • sbranch says:

      We’re in the AZ desert right now and I have NEVER seen it so beautiful and green! Can’t wait to get to SLO!

  58. Denise Baca says:

    You are one of the most blessed person that I know. You have the imagination to make things happen. I really like the way things come together for you. I like when you say in one of your books That we are all create with our hands. You are so right. Every single one of us. And I am taking that to heart. Now, I have a different out look on things. You are truly amazing Susan. I am glad I meant you by your books and blog.

  59. Beth says:

    I am so happy! A sleigh ride is my most favorite dream and you made it come true! Thank you a thousand times! The closest experience I’ve had was a wagon ride pulled by Jim &Dan ! 2 beauty Clydesdales at Christmas! We all sang carols in my neighborhood and it even snowed ! Lightly , this is Atlanta , Ga. Jim and Dan both love peppermints and carrots! Wish I had thought of apples. I loved your photos too! I am from the north east ! Do miss the wonderful barns in Pa. I thank you so very much! Thank you for sharing your lovely talent! Beth

  60. Ca says:

    Thanks for taking us along on your trip through such a great newsletter! And I thought Colorado was so lovely in winter. You all did such a wonderful job with the photos as well. California should be warm and green. Yep, spring is on the horizon! Your new tea cups look very fun but elegant. A sure hit! Safe travels, Happy Birthday to Mom and bet you will be a hit in Hollywood.

    • sbranch says:

      Now we’re in Arizona and I have never seen it so green and beautiful either!!! Weather is heaven in March in the west.

  61. Jennifer says:

    Love your new mugs!

  62. Nancy Heath says:

    So enjoyed your view of a winter wonderland – we don’t experience that much in Texas! Thank you for a virtual vacation.

  63. Suzanne Martinez says:

    I have enjoyed your art since the early cookbooks and have followed your work all these years. I relish the moment I find an old treasure of yours that I’ve tucked away in my home. Your art always makes me smile and sigh girlishly.

  64. Carol Beager says:

    Love,love,love your beautiful art and writing. Great pictures,always.
    Mugs are perfect.

  65. Eileen Cwalina says:

    Your photos are just wonderful and make me feel like I am there with you. Enjoy sunny California! When you get back things will be blooming for sure!!

  66. Nancy S says:

    I’m readin your blog, I want to be right there with you all! It is picturesque and fabulous. Thanks for sharing the joy ❤️

  67. Gail Buchanan Klumpp says:

    I’m so happy to see you ‘branching’ out into your own mugs – I luv them! (which is how I feel about all things SB). Happy spring!!!!

  68. Gail Buchanan Klumpp says:

    Oops, forgot to say ‘have fun’ in San Luis Obispo – my brother and sister-in-law live there! 🙂

  69. Sharon Stone says:

    The love and sparkle are evident in your lovely writing and pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  70. Paulette Grimsbo says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, for such a wonderful Willard. I felt as though I was riding in the back seat; it was that vivid. Can’t wait for the train Tweets. Have a wonderful trip—for all,of us.❤

  71. Beth Buckley says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your optimism, artwork and beautiful spirit inspire me. Also you’re helping me get through this dreary winter in New England! Thanks so much. The mugs are precious.
    Beth B.

  72. Katherine says:

    Oh my goodness thank you so much for the trip in pictures. As I began to look at the pictures I thought, wait a minute, I’ve been there and what wonderful memories your pictures brought back to me. About ten years ago my husband, myself and my aunt and uncle visited those places you mentioned and of course as soon as the pictures began to come up I was totally amazed to remember I had been there. Thank you again for a lovely trip. Also, is this the place where I make a comment of your new beautiful mugs that you are giving away. I certainly would like to win one of them.

  73. Lana Bressler! says:

    I love you Susan! You bring in the sunshine.

  74. Alice (A.J.) says:

    I absolutely loved this whole blog. Wish I could go there right now!

  75. Marsha Whitestone says:

    Dear Susan,
    Any post from you is sure to lighten and brighten any day. Thank you so much for what you do!
    Susan= lighten, brighten and delighten!!
    Hats off to you for being such a dear and sharing.
    Hugs,
    Marsha

  76. Linda from Boring, Oregon says:

    Oh Susan!!!!!! I’m am wild with joy for the trip you just took us on!
    I’m a west coast girl who adores the snow and all it’s magic. I spend as much time as I can cross country skiing up on my beloved Mt Hood each winter. However, two winters ago, I had the most blessed gift of traveling to Vermont with my “Snow Sister Sara” and staying in Stowe at the charming Green Mt. Inn. We trekked over to Jericho to see all we could about our very kindred Snowflake Bentley! We saw his amazing Snowflake pictures and equipment at the old red mill, barn museum, and we drove around trying to find his farmhouse, and to a historic cemetery to see his burial marker, but alas, it was under too much snow! We skied two days through the delightful maple tree forest up at the Von Trapp Lodge which were all tapped and strung with tin buckets to collect the liquid gold delight for fresh maple syrup. You probably know that Norman Rockwell, Tasha Tudor, and Snowflake Bentley all hale from VT! How could it not be dreamy and charming. Love all of your offerings, yet this one was over the top magical for my Snow Sister and me! You get us!!!! Stars, snow, white lights, car communion and toasty fires…. Cheers to you and yours, and sweet birthday wishes to Mum 💕🎂🎶

    • sbranch says:

      Loved that Linda . . . and we heard about Snowflake Bentley too and his snowflake ice flowers . . . but didn’t get to the barn. Maybe next time. xoxo

  77. Sheryl from Magalia CA says:

    Hello,
    For some reason I have tears in my eyes after and during reading this blog. It has made me so homesick for Ohio. I left there in 1980. I really enjoyed every photo and all your comments. You are so lucky you have a fellow traveler. I have one too, but he isn’t into old cute shops. He will go, but ends up walking outside to wait for me. No more complaining, he is a sweetheart in many ways.

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes we wish our boyfriends were our girlfriends too! I get that homesickness you must feel. Distinct seasons are like the foundation for life and for me at least, they say all is right with the world. I can’t imagine what it would be to have grown up with them and have them as a part of your subconscious dna. To me they are still always a kind of a miracle! And four extra miracles a year is a good thing!

  78. Nanette says:

    Susan,
    I was fortunate to have lived in New England for 2 years (in Newport, RI). I took a weekend trip to Vermont and this brought back so many memories! There is nothing more magical than Christmastime & winter in New England. Love the pictures & thanks for the memories!

    Nanette, now from Arizona

  79. Dianne Blauvelt says:

    Oh my gosh, Susan! I just came out of the wonderful haze of traveling with you on your Valentine’s Day trip. I didn’t want it to end! It is everything I love–snow, sleigh rides, red barns, covered bridges, adorable gift shops, cozy inns–and the cherry on top was the “Purple Haze” returning boat trip! I was totally enchanted! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with all of us! This is the first time I have added a comment to your blog or website, so I guess I am a newcomer, but not to your books, calendars, and wonderful art. I have been a fan ever since I bought my first book of yours, “Christmas Joy” back in 1995. One thing I would love to ask you: When you were in England last fall, how were the British people dealing with Brexit? Were they mostly unhappy or happy about it? Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place!

    • sbranch says:

      Really good question, Dianne, because, at the time, we had no personal opinion about Brexit one way or another. We didn’t have enough information to form one. It was interesting to us to ask everyone what they thought, which we did . . . and it was amazing how many different answers we got from all kinds of people. From all that, we did, finally, form our own opinion ~ but as we went along, listening to people, one day we agreed with Brexit, and the next day, we saw it as a travesty. One thing we found out, UK “information” sources are as manipulating and convoluted as our own! Therefore, just like here, decisions were sometimes based on false information. Now, when we see that Russia’s energy seems to be in undermining the democracies of the world, including the European Union, we see everything in a different light. Because, if it’s true, they are succeeding. If we give up our allies, they succeed. Anyway, living and learning, and asking questions. Nice to see you here Dianne!

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