The FANTASTIC ART of DOING NOTHING.

We are having the MOST wonderful summer!  Doing nothing with a capitol N. That’s why I haven’t written ~ what is there to say about nothing? Nothing! But I’ll see what I can do. Because some days I think nothing is better than something, and this is one of those days! Musica.

The Island is all back and going full-speed again, summer people are back, opening up their little summer houses at the shore . . .

And the big ones too … we have all kinds here, and they’re all some kinda wonderful. I think the actual reason I moved here was for the architecture!

The fourth of July was wonderful. As usual, everyone decorated to the nines.

We’ve been walking every day … the weather has been heavenly. No humidity at all, which is a great surprise . . . so far we haven’t even had to put in our air conditioners, knock on wood. It’s been all blue skies, lovely ocean breezes, gorgeous bug-free sunsets, perfect sleeping weather, perfect napping weather too! Oh yeah. Read a little book, take a little nap, let the curtains play in the breeze as you sleep, wake up to lawnmower noise three-doors-over, or an argument between two birds at the feeders. Yawn. Deep breath of happiness. Play some old music. Wander in garden while listening. Joyful nothingness of summer.

The sun shines bright on our walk in the morning…Joe waits for camera-wielding me in a shady spot.

While I stop to wave at you.

So gorgeous. I could never be a city girl. I like to visit . . . but this is my place . . .

Lovely in the woods . . . all dappled and shady …  takes us 45 minutes to do our walk. Best time of our day.

I find myself standing in front of the screen door in the kitchen, leaning on the door jamb, eating my bowl of shredded wheat (the way many women have done, at this same door, before me), watching the bees flit through the roses and the birds play in the birdbath. My heartstrings are tugged, I wipe away a tear . . . words like awesome, wonderment, stupefied come to mind. And gratitude. And joy.

This was a knot garden we saw in England (at Barnsley House). It’s one of the places we learned about shrub textures and colors. I used to plant almost all flowers, but notice here there are no flowers and it’s as beautiful as if there were. It’s because of the different textures and colors of the foliage. We try to do this in our garden ~ we haven’t quite mastered it but we are better than we used to be!

I’m pretty sure, from looking around, that the two things that grow best on Martha’s Vineyard are roses and hydrangeas.

And herbs too … they do well here. See the little purple flowers? That’s lemon thyme … try stirring those little flowers into softened vanilla ice cream. YUM. You can see our tomatoes are coming along nicely.

The old fashioned single hollyhock is blooming …

And Jack waits for me at the kitchen door.

Once in a while we force ourselves to leave the house, like to go to Farmer’s Market ~ we take the van, we turn on the air-conditioning, put down the windows, turn up Frank, drive up-island, stop and get coffee and a donut at the Scottish Bakehouse, pick up some French Marigolds at Vineyard Gardens, and make every excursion an adventure.

We went here for the Fourth . . . to our friend’s home on the water for a pot luck. I’m photographing from their deck, over the garden, to the sunset . . .

Fireworks across the water . . .

The kids out back with their sparklers . . . So wonderful it’s hard to believe there’s ever been a winter around here! That’s why so much celebration! We know what’s coming!

This is Jack when we come home from anywhere. He hears us at the kitchen door, I watch him through the window as I turn the lock, he curls onto his back and begins wriggling around until I pick him up. He makes us feel so welcome!

I made a pie, banana cream, with the most delicious pie crust (from Heart of the Home) . . . and I made three batches of potato salad over the weekend, for all the celebrations we attended! Mas Musica?

And ice cold gazpacho (with lobster), from the Farmer’s Market goodies . . .

While I cook, I watch/listen to old movies on Turner Classic Movies. TCM, the soundtrack to a perfect summer day. Also, the new series Anne with an E (she’d much prefer to be called “Cordelia”), which I LOVED, even though it was a bit different from the original. I hope they do a season two!

I made pancakes for my sweetheart ~ with crispy edges, and heated maple syrup, just the way he likes them. We ate while we watched the last episode of another wonderful new series  ~ a Masterpiece Theater production called  The Durrells in Corfu. Just in cases you’re looking for something new.

Washing breakfast dishes, listening to old movies, looking out the kitchen windows to see birds at the feeders and butterflies flit through the garden, hearing the bells ring from the church across the street. Playing with Jack. Painting Jack. Nothing with a capital N. Gimme more of that.

 I stop to watch shadows shimmer on the walls, greenish light reflected by the leaves of the trees feels like swimming in the pool when we were young. Pulling the shades in the upstairs bedrooms to keep out the afternoon heat . . .When I was little, I could lay on my bed and listen to the birds and the neighborhood noises and stare at the ceiling for hours ~ maybe write or read or fall asleep, just doing nothing.  I have no scientific proof, but I believe in my heart of hearts, all my inspiration in life came from that nothingness. All my romanticism and all my dreaming ~ there must be something in the nothing.💞

I’m still moving forward every day, I need to work, but I’m doing it in a much less frantic way, because first and foremost, I’m trying to fill my creative heart to the brim and overflowing ~ and I think it’s working. I still need more though.

I’m doing a little painting, early mornings when all is quiet, for the joy of it, with just the seagulls screeching over the harbor.

XOXO

Sometimes I turn on music  . . .

I had to paint my new cup . . . I wob it…. I put the video on Twitter . . .

Perkiest dang thing . . .

And look what came in! The 2018 calendars! Can you believe it? That means, and you know it does, soon it will be time for us to go back to school! 

I know lots of you are waiting for these! Maybe at the end of THIS month … or the first of August … they’re being made as we speak!

And this? I’m still waiting to see how the company that makes these does with color. Fingers are crossed that it will be good. This is a different company than the cup company, so we’ll have to see. I love this little teapot, I hope it works! Things take much longer than we imagine, but I should hear soon.

And this adorableness? I’ve also spent lots of time wandering around the Internet, looking at houses, and then just yesterday Joe and I rented this exact one! For two weeks next year, for another trip to the Mother Country. 🇬🇧 Eeeeek. You can’t hear me but I am SOSOSOSOSOSO excited. It has two fireplaces! SO cozy. I can’t wait to show you (and me) the inside, in real time. Our own little thatched cottage in the English Countryside.  I may have to paint it.  I’ll fill you in when we get closer. But this house was too irresistible not to show you now!I just realized, I haven’t shown you our last year’s visit to Downton Abbey yet!! I will do that next post!

Oh yeah. Until then . . . Hasta la vista, baby. Love you. Enjoy your precious moments.

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671 Responses to The FANTASTIC ART of DOING NOTHING.

  1. Julie Fellows says:

    Susan,

    Oh the joys of Nothing!!! Our family motto (from Bill Waterson /Calvin and Hobbes) is “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want!” We have tried to convey this “nothing” joy to our young adult son from the time he was small so that the lure of social media and fancy devices would be tempered with time to “dink around” in the local pond searching for frogs or fishing in Wisconsin for a week with loving grandparents. We will see how it plays out as he goes through his college years and learns how to manage his time and his new responsibilities. Thanks for such a delightful visit to your garden! BTW, We have a black and white cat at our house too and he is just as full of personality as your Jack! Love them!!

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

    Good afternoon Susan, Girlfriends!! it was a lovely morning here, had a cool breeze blowing through the trees, had just let the chickens out into their pen for the day and was feeding Furby ( our barn cat). I was watching mama hen bringng her chicks out into the backyard and scratching for seeds and bugs. we let the new mamas go out to the backyard until they go back into the pen with the others, but since the babies are still tiny and need mama they stay in the nursery and come out to the backyard away from the rest of the hens until they are big enough and old enough to care for themselves. we also had visitors out in the back area of the property, 3 good sized bucks were moving around through the trees, they were so beautiful to watch. they hang around in the back and find a shady place to nap for the afternoon. have one load of laundry out on the line and the second load is almost ready to go out. got the front gardens watered already and guess what… FINALLY got a new dishwasher installed yesterday. I have been without a dishwasher since October 2016 and hubby finally got a new one installed. what a relief… no more dirty dishes to wash, just rinse off and put in the dishwasher and when its full turn it on…. I love it!!!! 🙂 🙂 I have been washing dishes for so long that this is a real relief from that chore. I still wash knives, wooden spoons, skillets and things that do not go into the dishwasher, but at least it is cut down a ton without the dishes, silverware and glasses all the time. talk about dishpan hands…… YIKES!!! so I am finally getting a little more porch sitting time, which is okay with me… I love that too. well off to go hang the rest of the laundry, and get on with the rest of the chores. you all have pleasant day, relax and enjoy. love much, laugh often and live well. hugs….. 🙂

    • pat addsion (cave junction, OR) says:

      been watching the oak trees, and the acorns are already getting big, and the clusters are a pretty big size, looks like a another cold Fall and colder Winter again, maybe lots of rain as well. the caterpillar’s fuzz was pretty thick also. well out to go check on the laundry and make sure the turkeys and geese are behaving themselves and leaving it alone for once. hugs….. 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        On our walk yesterday we picked handfuls of blueberries and huckleberries in the woods and ate them while we walked.

    • sbranch says:

      Yay! A new dishwasher! More porch-sitting! Good for you Pat!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        Good Morning everyone, just dropped in to announce the names of our baby chicks…..all girls. we have Genevieve, Gigi, Gabriel, Claudette, Monique, and Giselle!! all lovely names for lovely little chicks. and mama and babies are doing very well… enjoying cool grass clippings and scratching around in them. they are now almost 3 weeks old and feathering nicely on the wings and have little tail feathers, they look so cute. well off to go check on the water containers for all the barnyard brats and babies, and keep them filled with cool fresh water. have a good day everyone…… hugs….. 🙂 p.s. that new dishwasher is a real blessing in disguise, after over 7-8 months of doing all the dishes by hand, it is a relief to have the extra time to do other things and no more dishpan hands!!!!

  3. Shen Wood says:

    Hi Susan,
    Your posts are always words in due season for me- inspiring creativity, kindness, friendship, family, the gentle arts of homemaking- in short, the things that make the world go around! And to take joy in it all! Thank you, thank you!
    Was wondering would you share your pancake recipe and how to get the crispy edges Joe loves? Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      The crispy edges are all in the fat … you can’t be skimp on the vegetable oil you cook them in! I’ll have to dig out the recipe!

      • Mimi Hanna says:

        My husband makes the best crispy edged pancakes…he uses olive oil and cooks one big one for a LONG time…keeps lifting
        it to see it’s progress…I try but mine are not as good…it’s the only thing he cooks…and one pancake could take 30 minutes…it is too funny!!!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Ahhhh…heavenly post sharing all the joys of the perfect summer day–reveling in gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us. Thank you!

    Cant wait to travel to England in your pocket again next year. Your cottage looks like heaven.

    Enjoy your tomatoes when they are ready! We are in the thick of tomato season (and peaches, blackberries and blueberries) here in the south. Fruit crisps galore–and I think a tomato pie is in my future…

  5. Evie Tong says:

    Dear Susan … I’ve been quietly recharging but I keep in touch with you …
    thank you for reminding me again of “il dolce far niente” ~ the sweetness of doing nothing … With Aloha-ha, Evie in San Diego

  6. Carolyn Ranieri says:

    I’m excited to see your Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey visit. I just started volunteering at the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida on Saundays. We’re getting 36 costumes from DA. The exhibit is Oct 7th thru Jan 4th. When St. Augustine puts on the more than 1 million white Christmas lights in November, it’s going to be magical going to “work.” Have you been to St. Augustine?

    • sbranch says:

      Not yet, but it sounds wonderful! What a fun job to volunteer for a museum!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      How exciting, Carolyn! We’ll have to make that trip from Tampa, where we spend the winter. I love the Lightner Museum, in fact, all of St. Augustine. Thanks for the info.

      Debbie…in Maine until November

  7. Regina Carretta says:

    Susan – here is a bit of 5 minutes joy! Dance clips mostly of Rita Haworth, Fred Astaire……a reminder of how music, dance, art, love and laughter still fill our lives …. do enjoy! youtube.com/watch?v=mz3CPzdCDws&feature=youtu.be
    Regina

  8. Jane says:

    I just ordered several of your mugs. I hope you make either saucers, plates, or teapots to match!! I would gladly pay $$$ for beautiful Susan Branch Made in England tableware!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been thinking of it, but I find the prices to be very steep for the bone china teapots from the company that is making the cups … we would have to sell them for $250 at least (after shipping and all) ~ they are so expensive. I’ve found another company that makes porcelain, not bone china, less expensive by half, but still very beautiful and I am investigating other types of dishes with them. We’ll see what happens. Thank you for that vote of confidence, Jane!

  9. Barbara Lassiter says:

    Your wonderful post reminds me of a quote from CALVIN & HOBBS that’s in one of my journals.
    “There is never enough time to do all the nothing you want!”

  10. Becki Hardman says:

    Hi Susan, I love your hydrangeas! Here in western CT we have uneven success with certain types of hydrangeas. I so love all of the hydrangeas on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Block Island and for that matter, any shore town. To me those and window boxes define what a beach cottage is. I also have to say that once again, one of your books got me through the day recently. After hearing so much negativity on the news one rainy cloudy day recently, I reached for your Summer book and everything was much better. Thanks again! :o)
    One of the things I have been hearing and reading about are the fires in CA. I am always checking on them because of my friends in the Bay Area. I know that there are fires in San Luis Obispo county. I hope your friends, family, and your own place are all doing ok.
    .

    • sbranch says:

      So happy my Summer book took you away from it all! Sometimes I wonder if it’s real anyway. I keep remembering back to the Luke and Laura Days on General Hospital. I couldn’t wait for 3 pm to see what new mischief they would get up to. It’s kind of like that with the news these days, but scarily, it’s actually supposed to be “real.” If I turn off the TV, everything is like it’s always been, nice and quiet and real. I’ve noticed in the past that it never seems to matter in my every day life who is in charge of the government! (Except for war, health care, and bank rules!) All my people are fine in SLO, thank you for asking. Those fires out there are the “normal” things … I remember one in the Santa Monica mountains as one of my first memories, the flames along the tops of the hills.

  11. Zona Wilson says:

    Your post made me smile many times. I think my heart rate went down as I scrolled and paused and slowly, luxuriantly scrolled some more. I’ve written and taught a weekend retreat on finding rest for our souls – so glad glad glad that you are taking the time necessary for resting and refreshing your soul.

    • sbranch says:

      I needed it! As you know we all do. I can feel the strength regrowing in me, and I have loved it. Feel sort of lazy sometimes, but I’m stepping over rude “you are so lazy” voice, and giving myself permission!

  12. DeLores Johnson says:

    I responded 7-8-17 and have not had a reply, although my letter is listed above amongst the other people’s and the response to them. My response says “awaiting moderation”. What does that mean
    DeLores Johnson

    • sbranch says:

      It means that I’ve been doing other things instead of reading my comments! I’m the “moderator” ~ and need to read them before they go through. Sorry DeLores. But here I am now, so your other comment will likely be up soon! Don’t give up on me!

  13. Barb says:

    Your teacups are darling but I wonder if I might make a suggestion for the next batch? I find the handles that are shaped like a half circle difficult to hold. The ones that are shaped more like a comma have more to grab onto. I have a cup that has that half circle shape for a handle and I just don’t use it because it is difficult to keep upright. Anyway, just a suggestion. Bless you

  14. Charissa says:

    Hi Susan, Drop dead GORGEOUS. That is how you make life look. I can’t think of any blog I have ever seen that has was yours has. BEAUTIFUL, WARM, WELCOMING, HAPPY, REAL, AND FULL OF INSPIRATION AND FEEL GOOD FUZZIES (I wrote the word vibes, but didn’t like it:)) And all about “nothing” this time. You even make NOTHING something spectacular!!! I don’t know how you do it, but I am soo glad you do! THANK YOU!!!! Jack ,the world’s cutest kitty and is that his little paw?! So cute. I am so excited for my new set of mugs to arrive and I hope your other little plates work out for I will NEED those too:) I love the first set so much and delight in showing everyone who comes for tea that they really do make your tea taste better. Something akin to wine in a plastic glass or wine in an amazing crystal glass I think. Must be the MAGIC;) I absolutely cannot wait for your adventure in that perfect little thatched cottage!!! You are so thoughtful to bring us all along. And Ooooooo DOWNTON. I have been missing it so. Anne With an E was so darling. I was afraid of it at first and didn’t want them to make it too dark or weird and I was nervous the entire first episode. Relief, once I got through it and realized that while it is a bit different it is still good. I too am on pins and needles awaiting a Season 2 announcement. I loved the Durrells too. Really such a sweet story. A new season of that is on the way when Poldark starts in October I think. Thankful for you and all that you share XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Charissa! I could have written your whole comment myself, we are living the same life! Felt the same about Anne, nervous, but more crazy about it with each episode. The only people who can say Good Vibes with any credibility would probably be the Beach Boys. 🤗 xoxo

  15. Mrs, Mary Elizabeth Lawrence aka MiMi says:

    The art of doing nothing I find takes great skill. The wonderful hot days of summer, low humidity , the frogs singing, chickens chasing bugs, Its pure heaven.I love having absolutely nothing to do. My husband and I put our lawn chairs in the water and let the waves wash over us,it was delightful.Sitting for hours on the dock under the umbrella watching the world in slow summer mode.When I was a girl having nothing planned put me in a panic, now its the opposite. How wonderful your trip for next year to an English cottage.Hopefully we will be taking a trip to England and France in the new year. So enjoy your posts, you are a lovely part of so many peoples day. Catch a firefly, Mary Elizabeth

  16. Kelly says:

    Susan,
    I think you might enjoy ‘My Mother & Other Strangers’ a Masterpiece Theater selection. Really wonderful.

    Thank you for this lovely blog. So enjoyed it.

    Do hope you & Joe are doing well and that life is being very kind to both of you.

    All the best,

    Kelly
    from Walnut Creek, Ca.

    • sbranch says:

      Things are good here Kelly, thank you. And thank you for that Masterpiece suggestion!

      • Kelly says:

        I think you would really enjoy it. I just stumbled across ‘My Mother and Other Strangers’ and really enjoyed it. I see where it is available on DVD.

        Question for you: have you thought of putting your books on iBooks?

        Loved this blog posting. Fun to see all the photos and really sweet to know that you are taking some well deserved down time just for you. 🌷🌻🌷

        Best to you & Joe,

        Kelly from Walnut Creek, CA

        • sbranch says:

          iBooks … been a problem in the past about making them “flow” art wise, since they are handwritten, have all the art and photos, are designed one page at a time, and scanned that way. Maybe now, if we found the right person, they could rework them to fit the readers … but I’m afraid a page would have a photo on it, and the next page would have the writing …

          Yes, I’ve been loving having this time. I feel like I deserved it. And needed it. But I’m getting more excited daily about what might come next! xoxo

  17. Lisa Johnson says:

    pbs had another version of the Durell movie too about 10 years ago, to me it was better, ” My Family and Other Animals”. The author’s books are a hoot too!

  18. Darlene Westmoreland says:

    Hi, it’s me Anne with an E from Maine. Not Darlene (hi Darlene). Loved everything about this post. Embodied the feeling of summer. Loved getting to watch you paint. And especially loved the clip from Anne with an E. (Lots of loves in this comment!) That REALLY made me smile. Enjoy this beautiful summer day! Anne in Maine

  19. Diane from Poulsbo says:

    Dearest Susan, the nothingness of childhood is the very best….but as mature adults…I think it is just as wonderful! Jack certainly understands what you mean, if his pictures are anything to go by. It has been a beautiful and mild summer here, and all of my trees, bushes and plants are thriving so well…which thrills me. I love to sit on my front porch in a rocking chair and enjoy everything, and when it gets too sunny, I switch to the gazebo in the back yard…..still has a view, without the glare! 😊 I have gone crazy with shopping your stuff lately, but it couldnt be helped….the book of quotes on gratitude, the Grandma s story book, the Mothers story book, and those delightful china cups which I use all day long. Oh…and I just ordered the box of 48 cards too. I am all set except for your tea plate and the new calender set….haha. I am so excited about your rented cottage in England, and to travel with you again!! Soooo happy you are going back…and experiencing life in the most picture perfect adorable cottage ever! We will have so much fun again in our favorite place in the world! Who knows…we may even be there as they film the new Downton Abbey movie! Xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not wild about those words “mature adults,” but okay, I guess truth is truth. 😄 I can’t wait until we go either! I love how long we have for planning. I think last year it was just too rushed with all that had been going on. I felt a little on the delirious side. This time, is already better. So much time for dreaming! I already have some great surprises to share with everyone. Can’t wait!

      • Christie Levin says:

        *Surprises* about the trip? Oh, dear, now my mind is a little*delirious ~ so many possibilities. Are we meeting the Queen*? or having tea with Will *and* Kate? For sure, delicious brownies will show up at some point *** perhaps at a picnic somewhere Pemberley-like, or Shire*like or Brigadoon-like or even Glendalough-like? * * * * I’m seeing stars*now*. Hearts and stars everywhere you go xoxox

        • sbranch says:

          Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we met the Queen? Had tea with the kids? Well-done on the dreaming Christie! But I still have good surprises, if not quite royal!

  20. Laurel in VA says:

    Doing nothing is an art form that I think I’ve lost. There’s always something that makes me get up from the couch, bed, chair, etc. that needs to be done. After reading this post – I’m gonna find a way get it back!

  21. Jan says:

    Susan,
    A wonderful post! Enjoy seeing all the flower pictures. My gardens, vegetable and flower have been especially beautiful this year too. We have had enough rain to keep them flourishing. They just seem to get more beautiful every week. As part of my “nothing”, I walk around my yard every morning, taking in the beauty, pulling weeds, and tending to the little things like clipping off old blossoms. It recharges me for the day. Have a question on the teapot dish – what size will it be? Is it small for placing a tea bag on, or the size to use for cookies,etc.?
    Jan

    • Jan says:

      Susan,
      P.S. forgot to mention I really love the bluebird mug!! Had to order, to add to my blue collection.
      Jan

      • sbranch says:

        The bluebird mug I have here is a sample, if I wash it, the design will come off. Needless to say, I coddle it. I don’t drink out of it, and I just have it around where I can admire it!! It’s darling and I can’t wait for the real thing! Probably one of my best things ever! (I always think that until the next best thing!) xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what I did yesterday too, deadheading the flowers, weeding and generally just admiring the miracle of nature! The teapot dish that I’ve been showing you is about 8″ across, and a better cookie or sandwich plate I can’t imagine. It’s also perfect to hang on a wall. Right now they are applying my designs, making samples, so we can see if the color turns out right ~ and if it does, we will not only have that . . . but one day, we’ll ALSO have a tiny teapot shape to put teabags on.

  22. Mary Weir says:

    As always, I find such respite and inspiration when I visit your blog. For the first time in many years, I have some time off since my new-ish job is 11 months long at a middle school. I am enjoying these four weeks off in the same spirit as you expressed in your lovely post. While I was breaking myself into this job over the last year or so, I wasn’t keeping up with your blog very often, but I did see a post where people were criticizing you and I’ve wanted to write since then and tell you that I’m sorry people upset you, and that what you contribute to the world is the true antidote to all that intolerance and animosity. For Christmas, I bought eight copies of the anniversary edition of Heart of the Home to give to my sisters, friends and new brides and everyone loves it. I’m thrilled to see your calendars are ready and will look forward to again gracing my kitchen with your art as I have done for so many years now. I also snagged one of your out-of-print address books from your web store — it is perfect and I am so proud to have it. I just wanted you to know how much your work means to me and that I am still spreading the word about you wherever I can. Thanks for all you do.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh don’t worry Mary, really, it was such a minor part, a half of a half of a percent, mostly it’s been all love around here 😍💞👏😻💝 . . . at least that’s my experience of it. Thank you for your support ~ I’m so happy you liked my new Heart of the Home. I loved doing that book! It’s always wonderful to hear from you. xoxo

      • Mary Weir says:

        I am so touched that you take time to answer all of us who so love your work. I forgot to mention how much I’ve loved reading all three books of your trilogy over the past couple of years. I teared up as I finished Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams because I didn’t want it to end…you are such a great writer and the way you invited us into your world and your story created a place, like your blog, that’s wonderful to visit. The only other time I grieved an ending like this was the when the last episode of the Gilmore Girls aired. I didn’t want to stop “going” to Stars Hollow. I hope you keep writing…did I see something about the possibility of a movie based on your books?? That would be fantastic! On a more somber note, I also wanted to thank you for your Gratitude book. I sent it to my dear aunt who has tragically lost all three of her children but who always focuses on being grateful and does so much to make so many other lives better. She loved this beautiful collection of inspirational quotes you put together. Like you, she loves birds, gardening, cooking and making a happy and loving home, which she continues to do as she shoulders her losses. Thank you for giving me a way to offer her a bright spot in her life. Blessings to you and Joe!

        • sbranch says:

          Please give your dear aunt a huge hug from me. People like her amaze me ~ I want to be just like her when I grow up. And thank you Mary, hug yourself too, from me. xoxo

  23. Allyson says:

    Oh Susan, your blogs are always just what I need! We just got back from a fourth of July cruise on the Queen Mary 2 and it was so delightful reading about your crossing in A Fine Romance as we were sailing! Ours wasn’t a crossing but boy do I want to go to England! Congratulations on booking your next trip! Have you ever seen the show Escape to the Country? My husband and I are addicted to it. Also, have you ever thought of making paint by numbers kits? I would love to be able to paint like you!

    • sbranch says:

      We “tried” out the Queen Elizabeth 2 ~ went to Bermuda and Charleston, staying close to home, before we went to England the first time. Just to make sure we knew what we were getting into. It’s a good way to do it! Now you know! Yes, we’ve watched them all now, all the escapes! Love it … gives such a nice view of the countryside! Paint by numbers, wouldn’t that be fun!

  24. Cyndee in Kalamazoo, MI says:

    Susan, we are home and thank you so much.. After spending a wonderful week in Oxford at Holywell B&B with Stuart and Carrie, we spent 12 days in Germany. Having never been to either country before, we have so much to remember from both. We rented a car and drove all over to the castles, palaces and cathedrals in Germany. If you are like us and didn’t want to try learning to drive English style, Holywell B&B is a perfect place to start on an English adventure. We were right on the edge of town and we enjoyed walking everywhere. To see 700 and 800 hundred year old buildings out your window and on every street you went down was amazing. The gardens are beautiful and there was Blenheim palace just a bus ride away. If we had stayed longer we could have taken the bus to other locations. All this was opened to us because I followed you and Joe on your trip last fall. This time instead of maybe someday, it happened this summer. Again, thanks for sharing your live adventures with everyone and making us see we can do it too.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy for you Cyndee! It sounds like a lovely trip, we loved our visit with Stuart and Carrie too … and Oxford! What a place to dream in! Good for you . . . “Instead of maybe someday . . .” You did it! xoxo Welcome home! Here’s to the memories!

  25. Judy from KC says:

    Oh your thatched cottage is so quaint! It reminds me of the movie The Holiday with Cameron Diaz when she switched homes for the holiday and ended up in a similar home.
    I am excited to see my Santa mug when it arrives! Now I am eyeing the Autumn 🍂.
    Love your blogs ! And Willard’s! I am going to check out the TCM app you mentioned . I have Roku on one TV and fire stick on another , but I was missing the TCM so glad you mentioned it!
    Looking forward to hitching a ride with you to tour England ! I am afraid if it was up to me to drive over there we would be missing a side mirror or two 😉

    • sbranch says:

      At least! Me too! Joe is so brave! I can’t wait to open the door of that cottage. I’ll have my camera right there… 💓

  26. Jennifer Bonynge says:

    A delightful blog piece! Having just returned from a month in England I feel the love you express in traveling to that country. The Lake District, Hill Top Farm, Dove Cottage and Rydal Hall, Thirsk and the Moors, stone circles and Lucy Boston’s Manor…all a wonderful memory. My heart will be right there with you when next you travel to England…LOVE your postings and YOU!

    • sbranch says:

      Dove Cottage! That’s the one where I wanted to decorate the kitchen. That thick creamy paint! Those rounded edges. Wish I could live there for a little while.

  27. Annie in IL says:

    Leaving on a jet plane this afternoon on our way to London. Couple of days there then we head for ‘Downton Abbey’. I can’t wait and am afraid I’ll burst into tears when I arrive. I have been working my way thru the series since last winter; savoring each episode – seeing things I didn’t see before. I am on Series 6 and almost finished but prolonging it. We will also be in the Lake Dist., staying in a hotel right on Lake Windermere. Also will be in the Cotswolds; going to Stonehenge, etc.
    I did not care at all for ‘Durell’s of Corfu’; that was the most hateful group of children I’ve ever seen. The way the mother was treated was abominable! We did not finish watching the series.
    Where is your thatched-roof cottage located?

  28. Steph D says:

    Look at that cute little house! It’s darling bangs remind me of the house in Alice in Wonderland: s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/53/51/dc/5351dc12ff81741ad6ae227111f1fe4b.jpg

  29. Sandi says:

    Ahhh…just reading your post is so relaxing and has inspired me to sit outside and enjoy the beauty of this summer day. Thank you, Susan; I always feel like a new blog post is a letter from a dear friend! I love my mug from your first group of porcelain mugs and I’ve pre-ordered the blue bird cup, I just couldn’t resist. I have to tell you, your porcelain cups have spoiled me; my Emma Bridgewater pottery mug mostly just sits in the cupboard. I feel a little disloyal to Emma but you really nailed it choosing porcelain for your mugs! I hope you continue to enjoy your days filled with satisfying Nothing. You deserve it! Thank you, dear Susan for bringing so much joy to so many with your life well-lived. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Sandi … very sweet of you. I felt slightly disloyal too, but I did try to get EB to put my art on her cups so I could do it through them ~ but that wasn’t part of their business model, so I started looking around ~ and now I’m glad I did ~ I’m thrilled with the quality of my new cups, rather rare these days.

  30. Lynne Barlow says:

    I ordered and received two of your cups as a little treat for myself…….because they make me smile and they are dear. WELL! Guess who fell in love with them? My sweet husband, who loves a roomy cup for his coffee and loves the handles that fit his big paws😍 So now the bluebird is on reserve. I (we) can’t wait.😘

    • sbranch says:

      Joe loves his too! He likes it for the reasons your husband does and also because he’s a slow tea drinker and the cup holds the heat longer.

  31. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W Tx says:

    I love, love the cottage! I cannot wait to see inside! I am so ready for a getaway. I would love to do nothing for a day, and I know someday it can really happen, but right now I am happy with my hour in the morning and my hour at night all to myself.
    I lost my dear, sweet BB3 to a rattlesnake bite and my heart has just been so heavy and it just sucked all the joy out of my life. And then the strangest thing happened. Driving to work there was a black & white cat like B that had been hit by a car. It was in the middle of the road and still alive. After going passed it, I turned around and went back. I had a towel in my car and I threw it over the cat and scooped it up to take to the vet and have it humanely put down. In fact I thought it might die before I got there. To make the story short, she had a broken front leg, a mangled back paw and a broken tail and lots of abrasions. She has gone from Found Cat Hit By Car, which is how the vet had her listed, to Lucy Lu, living in a kitty condo I constructed in our guest room. She has a long road ahead of her. She is skin and bone and has obviously been on her own a long time. She has a splint that is bigger than she is and is learning to trust again. Mom and I are finding a lot of joy caring for her. She has a great appetite and we are winning her over with food! She even purred for me the other day. We don’t handle her yet, because I know she must be hurting. Baby steps!
    Life is very strange how things happen. You never know what is around the corner of life.

    Any way, I will be ready for the trip when it is time to go to England! When exactly are we leaving, so I can let them know at work, that I won’t be fully there! LOL

    And thanks again for keeping joy and sanity in our lives, some of us out here really need the push some times. ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      I’m crying. That poor kitty. Thank you for rescuing it. You are a brave, good, dear woman. I love you sooooo much. Lucy Lu, lovely name. Take care of yourself. The world needs you.

      • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

        Chris Wells, God Bless you for taking in that cat. For taking the extra brave step when you could have kept driving. She would have been killed by another car, and I dread to know how often that might occur. I hope you have a long, wonderful life together as rescuer/rescued.

  32. Sharon says:

    Hi Susan, Yes, Yes, Yes!!! How I agree about NOTHING. Now where to start. Well I was forced into doing nothingwhich suits me fine – it’s summer – time to enjoy. Oh why was I forced into doing nothing you ask? Because I broke my hand and it’s in a cast. My wonderful husband has been doing everything from picking the mulberries for pie, cherries, which will become pie and grinding ramps (that’s wild garlic), along with everything else I can’t manage to do. My son gave his sister your cookbook Heart of The Home. She is so excited. Waiting to enjoy something she will make. Of course reading your blogs are all inspiring. Give Jack big hug and belly rub. Love cats. We have four. For now dear Susan, Cheerio, Sharon

    • sbranch says:

      Oops, I’m sorry! I know, because I broke my wrist a few years back and haven’t quite forgotten it yet! But, I can say, this too shall pass, and right now you’ve got the gang working for you, so all is well. Belly rub, completed. Cheerio Sharon!

  33. Debbie Boerger says:

    So much to look forward to! The cups to have our coffee or tea, and for me, my soup. I’m weird that way.
    Tom just came in with over a cup of wild blueberries from down by the bay. Two years ago, I had a tree guy take down 2 of the huge trees near the house. They were dying, and I was tired of worrying about one or both crashing on us during one of the hurricanes or N’Easters. He also cut some of the big old branches on the others to let more sun in. The blues are soooo happy. I’ve eaten all the ones on the other side of our house. As one of the Girlfriends said, berries still warm from the sun. All those experiences go into my “Coupon” book….a mental memory to pull out and use for when things are tough in your life.

    Tom requested blueberry pancakes for breakfast in the morning. Well, Duh! What else do you do with blueberries on a Sunday morning? As for the crispy edges…I get those by making the batter just a bit thinner, and, as Susan says, use lots of oil. I use 1/2 oil and 1/2 Buttah, Real Buttah.

    We’re getting a respite from the re-roofing noise for the weekend. Our roofer has kids and doesn’t work weekends. I think that is wonderful. And…his lovely girlfriend is a gardener and may be able to help with my overgrown gardens.

    Ohhhh, Life is So good. Especially with your blog, Dear Susan, and Carrie’s Blog as well. When I quit inflicting the news on my Po’ Self, I feel the calm set in. And the physical pain takes a breather. Needless to say, I read and re-read all the blogs. Big Pharma can’t compete!!

    The best Summer Breeze to you and Joe (remember that 70’s song)
    Debbie in Down East Maine

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      PS And maple syrup made from our own trees by my wonderful neighbor, as we aren’t here in time for tapping the trees.

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve been picking and eating blueberries and huckleberries on our walk … the first are just coming ripe now. Debbie, will you stay in Maine all winter? You are always so up, despite challenges . . . sending lots of love today!

  34. Rebecca Sulcer says:

    As I was reading about Anne (with an E)…it jogged my old memory…Aren’t you making a movie about you???? When will it be out and ready for viewing??

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not making a movie, but I did allow the rights to my last three books go to some people who are working on it ~ either a movie or a series! I don’t think we should hold our breath when thinking about opening night! But we’ll see what happens!

  35. Debbie Boerger says:

    Chores done. Sheets and pillow cases washed and dried, bed changed, Gaspacho made, kitchen cleaned, salad for tonight made….and….I beat Tom at cribbage while eating our egg salad sandwiches on the porch! Time for a nap in the loft bedroom. Just like a tree house. From the bed, I see all the shades of green with the blue sky and white clouds. And the birds!!!
    Since reading your blog I am much more aware and appreciative of all that I get to enjoy, even washing the dishes. Oh, and I cleaned the toilet….thinking, “I have dishes to wash, a toilet to clean, and a clean bed to sleep in. Wish that everyone could have at least clean water to drink.

    Debbie again….nobody posted since I did at 1 this afternoon?

    • sbranch says:

      You’re doing pretty darn good for a gal in a cast! Did you get it off? No way some silly cast is going to keep you down, Mrs. Energy Bunny!

  36. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    When I need a smile on my face, I can count on your Jack to make that happen. I so love seeing your photos of him; did one cat EVER have so much personality? He is beyond-the-moon adorable. I’m glad he does okay with your absences; you’ve raised him to have good confidence and resilience! He can handle the babysitter (oops, kittysitter!!).

    I also felt very soothed by watching you paint on the recent youtube video. You make me quiet inside in such a good way. It’s a sort of reassurance. Tranquil moments, and you have a gentle voice.

    Hope you are having a glorious summer weekend in beautiful MV. A hundred thanks-you’s as usual for taking the time to give us such gorgeous, thoughtful and thought-provoking, comforting and delightful posts, Susan!

  37. Paula says:

    ~Susan~
    I’m alittle behind on reading your wonderful words, that just fills my heart with joy! Love you, love all you do !!!
    Paula
    IN.
    p.s Im coming to the Vineyard in Sept !!!

  38. Gill Smith says:

    Dear Susan, oh sosososo excited today. We are off for our picnic at Stourhead!! We called in on Friday, and did the house tour, on route to our delightful cottage at Semley.
    I shall sit where you had your picnic last year, and raise my tea cup to you. Closing my eyes , I shall pretend you are here with me talking Peter Rabbit, and all things of no importance, but utterly captivating! With much love and excitement Gill from Devon xxx

  39. chris consentino says:

    oh, my goodness! this has been a truly WONDERFUL chit-chat to enjoy! we’ve been having heat-indices of 105 on many days…and, more of them coming this week!!!! ugh. ugly. horrid. awful-feeling. well, I could go on & on. but…with your “visit”, and all others chiming in…I do feel better here in our cozy den….thankfully full of AC!!! and, our friends back in nh….in the sixties….grrrr. jealous. but….able, very happily to do “niente”…..I’ve always been good at that. as a kid…my favorite summer-activity….sitting on shady front porch…a book, some grapes & cheez-its….aaaah….perfection. thank you for giving us permission & encouragement to do just nothing….wow. can’t wait for your next journey to the land of my grandparents. do take care. keeeeep cooool. and, always, always know how thankful we all are for the blessing of you, Susan, in our lives! all love. xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I melt in the heat. I turn, as I told Joe yesterday, into Karo Syrup. It’s bad. It’s not so hot here, but the humidity has come to join the party. Ick. Do nothing sweetheart, and freeze some grapes, very good! xoxo

  40. Eileen says:

    Hi Susan, ever the creative and inspiring one. I just finished rereading this for the third time, and each time I find something new. When I need to quiet the mind and soul, I read your blog, it does my heart so much good.
    My thank you comes from the bottom of my heart!

  41. Charlene Scholey says:

    Beautiful blog on the joys of doing nothing. I love these hazy lazy days of summer and they make the arrival of the lovely days of fall seem all the more welcome,. You always describe the fall season so beautifully, so maybe you are thinking of your next blog and fall now! “Thank you for all of your thoughts and sharing them with us! Enjoy!!
    Love, Charlene

  42. Barbara Seibert says:

    What with your lovely yard, making potato salad, pie, gazpacho and feeding the birds and taking your daily walk I would say you stay very busy in the best way. Happy summer to you both. Looking so forward to my fall and Christmas cups.

  43. Berkley Chapman says:

    Where can i purchase the fairy tales do come true banner?

  44. Frances Fowler says:

    Love your never ending joy and gratefulness in all the simple things every day. And then there’s joy to come from THAT cottage (omg!) and y’alls trip next year! Beeyooootiful!

    • sbranch says:

      OMG is exactly how I feel. Our planning is generally, and almost always, too late for the “good” houses… but THIS time, I’m aiming for fireplaces, and coziness ~ it rains a lot in England and after a day out walking in it, a fireplace is such a wonderful thing!

  45. Ellen Botts says:

    I have been savoring your watermelon-smear of sour cream – sprinkle of brown sugar recipe. It is to die for and super easy. I have to have it at least once a day.
    I have been majoring in Nothing Days all summer. Years ago a favorite aunt gave me a pillow reading “How beautiful is to do nothing and rest afterwards…” – I can do that! I have been reading a lot so I consider that doing something.
    Cheers!!! Ellen

    • sbranch says:

      I had it yesterday, and you are so right. An explosion of flavor in the mouth! Reading is doing, growing, traveling, dreaming, reminding, mind opening, and joy-giving all rolled into one. Definitely doing something.

  46. Nan says:

    Your nothing is a whole lot of something! Far, far better than most people’s blog chats! I read this and by the time I got to the bottom of the post, I was planning to get my best china tea cup out and make some tea because I was feeling SO relaxed! I am going to sit and enjoy it, thinking of NOTHING. p.s. One year I planted Lemon thyme, Lemongrass, Lemon mint, and Lemon verbena in a plot right by the back patio so that I could go brush my hands through them all just to smell the amazing scents!! Thank you for that memory! Now I will have to do it again, just in planters this time.

  47. Gill Smith says:

    Well Susan, Stourhead was wonderful and some more!!
    We loved it…what a charming, romantic place . We spent all day Sunday there. We walked the gardens had our picnic, on the lawn ( I closed my eyes and pretended you were there!) had tea in the church opposite the cottage where you and Joe stayed. Super day. Looking forward now to see where you are visiting next year, So exciting!
    Our one bedroom cottage was a delight, and reminded me so much of Holly Oak! You would love it too! Happy to be home, but so delighted we actually got to visit this delightful place.
    Gill from Devon U.K.

    • sbranch says:

      I knew you would love it Gill. Love that you had a picnic too. You do have the most magical country! xoxo

  48. Nancy Hussey says:

    Hi Susan…that was a great blog….I miss Downton so much !!! It might be time to watch the whole series again ! You mentioned that your mugs are sold in eight stores in the US…I was wondering if there are any close to me. I live in Rhode Island, but travel to the Cape quite a lot. Are there any in that area ? Autumn is my favorite season, and I must have the Autumn mug !!🍁 I even have a kitty named Autumn 🐱 ! Will that mug be available in the stores soon, or am I better off ordering from your website !
    Thanks, Nancy

    • sbranch says:

      There is a store in Brewster, on the Cape, called The Cook Shop! The stores will have limited numbers of mugs, not to be restocked (with these particular designs) after they are gone. Us too, when they’re gone, they’re gone. A kitty named Autumn! That’s wonderful. Me too, loving fall, my favorite season.

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