SPROUTS & BUDS

Finally, I’m here, with our trip to find the sprouts and buds of spring. And we did, and I’ve brought them right on back to you! Settle in, get yourself a cup of something delicious and let me tell you a story! With nice road MUSICA!

 I promised you a little armchair travel, so here we go!  Williamsburg was wonderful! Virginia was great! But there was so MUCH of it, I may have to divide this post in two! (Which I should have but I didn’t!) What a hands-on way to get an education! Say hello to George Washington! Get ready to know him better! 

So, end of March, we drove out of a cold, grey New England rainstorm into a world totally unrecognizable to our first president (honk-honk-beep-beep, honey, you have change for the toll?), and spent our first night on the road in a historic, brick-and-clapboard, Pennsylvania borough called Doylestown ~ which was filled with charming shops, budding trees, and interesting restaurants (we have to go back!) and had a delicious dinner with old friends at a luv-lee restaurant called Domani Star

The next morning, on our way out of town, we investigated the local supermarket, something we love to do when on the road. We like to see what everyone else has! This is Wegmans!! We knew we’d love it the minute we walked in~I stood at the peppers and took this first view.

You can BE a tourist in this supermarket; we were there for almost an hour taking pictures. Disneyworld for cooks and eaters! If I lived there, anyone who came to visit, I would take them to Wegmans. Part of the tour!

First time we’d seen something like this in a year! Lightness of heart occurred!

Bought these . . . Could not resist British Daffodils all the way from Cornwall. 

Then it was back into the van and off, under blue skies, to Mount Vernon, beloved home of George and Martha Washington, a home so appropriate for our first President. Gravitas.

As you can see we were not the only people who had the idea to visit Mount Vernon this day! We had bought our tickets online before we left home, and signed up for a timed tour, so no standing in line for us!

There it was, as it looked since third-generation, American-born, George Washington finished renovating it in 1754, it’s where he brought his bride in 1759 (after their honeymoon in Williamsburg!)

We’ve had this framed print I found in an antique store hanging in our kitchen forever. They were the perfect people, in the perfect place, at the perfect time. Reading Ron Chernow’s biography Washington, you see that from the moment he was born, everything that happened to him was another clean and clear step to him becoming who he became. I’ve never seen a life more on-track for destiny. And Martha! Equally fascinating. Oldest of eight children! Good with horses! She wore a yellow dress with lilac slippers at her wedding to George. 💞 (Married before George, had four children and lost two of them, and then lost her husband.) So interesting to see them as real people, not just figureheads. Because you know, they had to get up in the morning and stretch out, and get clean in their colonial way, and stumble downstairs to get some coffee and pay bills and all the things normal people do. Look how much they got done with no TV, radio, phone, cars, planes, trains, or even a typewriter. Pretty amazing. Says something but I don’t know what!

Here you can get the lay of the land at Mount Vernon because there’s a lot of it, tons of gardens and other buildings you can visit ~ everything that kept a house going had to be produced on the property in those days, they made everything. There’s a museum, a gift shop, and the tomb of Martha and George is there too.

They did not allow photography inside, I’m sorry to say, but the tour was wonderful, so if you can’t get there soon, there are lots websites where you can see the rooms online.  We stood in the front hall where guests were welcomed (they had dinner parties all the time), saw the parlor and dining room, Washington’s beautiful study, and the bedchambers, upstairs and downstairs. The rooms had high ceilings, lots of original furnishings, and walls brightly painted in authentic period colors of turquoise, bright blue, and Kelly green. Above photo is the back of the house ~ with the famous cupola crowned by the “Dove of Peace” weathervane commissioned by the President in 1787, symbolizing his hopes for peace in the new nation.

Sitting here on the piazza (back porch) designed by Washington, with his view of the Potomac, seeing what he saw, is where I felt him most.  The fly in the ointment in all that we observed is slavery. All rosy views take on dark hues because it just doesn’t go away, it was a part of everything, part of history, you can’t rest your eyes anywhere where you don’t feel the ghostly presence, not on a cup, a dish, or a doorknob. You have to be able to hold two opposing things in your mind at once, one very light that makes you feel so much pride and the other brutally dark that makes you feel so bad. The first slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, the year before the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts  ~ and because 2019 is the 400th anniversary of that event, there were exhibitions focused on that history everywhere. I’m glad we don’t try to hide it. But it’s painful, and touching, so be prepared.

As it was getting late, we decided to spend the night in nearby *historic* (you can just put that word in front of every place we go in Virginia!) Fredericksberg, where spring was bursting out all over, sprouting and budding everywhere we looked.

Charming, easily could have spent more time wandering around here, but we let all things historical take second place to the excellent antiquing in this little town!

They sure do! They had every bit of Americana you could ever hope for! I brought home a quilt! You’ll agree I’m sure, it’s irresistable! ⬇️ And every tiny handsewn stitch is visible!

It was off to *Historic* Colonial Williamsburg the next morning, with a stop on the way for a tour of the *historic* Shirley Plantation, dating from 1614 (six years before the Mayflower landed in Plymouth!) The house itself was built on the banks of the James River in 1738 and is still owned by the Hill-Carter family as it has been for eleven generations!

Down the long unpaved “twelve-oaks” driveway, where buggy wheels and horse hooves, a little black 1908 Model A, and a 1947 Chevy sedan presumably traveled, we went ~ to the house, on whose wide lawns wounded Union soldiers were brought from battle to die, and were nursed in their last hours by the Confederate wives and mothers of the Shirley Plantation, who woke up one sad morning to look out their windows to a sea of broken men.

Our first peek at the house . . .

As we drive along, we forget (because we’re on the inside) that we are driving a billboard!  Sometimes people wave or honk and we wonder why! On this trip someone pulled up next to us at a stoplight, rolled down her window, waited for Joe (with his confused face) to roll down his, and then hollered, “Is she writing children’s books now?” Ha ha! Just makes it all more fun.

The whole point of this trip was spring!!! All the first clues were there.

We’re used to seeing trees like this in England . . . not so often here at home. But there were some old and stately beauties on this property. If this doesn’t inspire tree-hugging nothing will!

Again, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the house. Unfortunately, because it was charming with portraits and old sepia photographs, antique furniture and history belonging to the generations that lived there and now I have to write a thousand words to tell you! No, I don’t, you’re saved ~ I found a wonderful interior video.  The Carter family still lives on second and third floors so those spaces were private, but we were invited in to see the ground floor with its famous “flying” staircase. Displays like the one above were in some of the outbuildings ~ above was the kitchen. Again, we learned about the suffering that built this place, while hearing stories of first settlers, the family-loyalty to the American side of the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. We met adorable three-year-old twins belonging to that newest eleventh generation, out playing with the chickens in the chicken coup. The beat goes on! Just like the person who planted that willow oak 350 years ago, for us, for the future, the Carters have just planted a brand new orchard of Pecan trees, for us, for their children, for the future. It’s what was left behind in everything we saw that was so touching, but also how it was preserved, honored, and brought through the centuries so we could know our history, and grow with the knowledge. Makes me want to plant an oak tree!

Then off to Williamsburg for more! Joe and I were there almost exactly a year ago. We were driving to Florida to board the Queen Victoria for our trip to England, and had only planned to spend one day and overnight in Williamsburg ~ which turned out to be nowhere near enough! We vowed to come back. So here we were. For five glorious days!

We stayed at the Williamsburg Lodge which is within walking distance of everything.

We unpacked, got our Cornwall Daffodils into some water, and out we went to explore. Now I’ll give you a little taste of what it was all about:

First off, we made reservations for the hotel online, and at the same time we bought tickets for our entire stay that would let us see everything in Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown (all day, every day we were there. Very handy, just whip it out and you automatically get into everything). Something else interesting, wherever you eat, whatever you buy in Williamsburg, you can charge to your room, no matter which Williamsburg hotel you choose to stay in!

As you walk around, you’ll notice flags in front of some of the buildings  . . .

Wherever you see one, it means come in, hear a story, take a tour, welcome! Like a big box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get, but guaranteed, it’s all good!

It was a wonderful flag, combining old world and new!

Most flags are accompanied by a docent in costume.

Despite the delightful fact that no cars are allowed, it’s a real town, with stores and taverns where our patriot ancestors used to plot and plan ~ it’s the largest living history museum in the world where you can experience life in 18th century colonial America while wandering around 300 lovely acres. At one end of the main street (Duke of Gloustershire, shortened by locals to “DoG” Street) is William and Mary College, where Thomas Jefferson went to school . . . the students still hang out on the wide streets. One thing I regret because I didn’t know, you can bring a picnic basket because there are many wide lawns and huge leafy trees to sit under that would be perfect for a picnic, and a luv-lee cheese shop in the Market Place with perfect picnic fixin’s ~ and plenty of people-watching to make it interesting! And you can do that without a ticket. You can walk all over Williamsburg without a ticket. It’s only if you want to go into the flag-marked historic sites, enjoy the guided tours, galleries, museums, see the silversmith, watch the blacksmith, which you do want to do if you have time, that you need a ticket.

Walking through Williamsburg is a feast for the eyes . . . at one time it was the capitol of Virginia. You can easily imagine the tall figure of George Washington trotting down DoG Street on his great white horse with Martha and her two children coming alongside in their coach and six horses. It was a four-day bumpy ride from Mount Vernon for them (a smooth 2 1/2 hour drive for us!).

You can try the ride for yourself . . .

there are lots of colonial conveyances to choose from . . .

Adding all kinds of quiet back-in-time charm to the bucolic neighborhoods. When rebuilding, they put all the utilities underground, no wires, no poles, just tall trees, chimney tops, clouds, skies, and church spires. 💞

And you’re welcome to wander around anywhere on the property,

Open gates everywhere you go say ‘come in’ . . .

Follow the path to serendipity because you don’t know what is around the next picket fence . . .

Except for more picket fences . . . go through that gate on the right, across the bridge, through the garden, out the back gate, and down the path to who knows what ~ to the Gaol (“jail”) where Blackbeard’s Pirates were kept in 1704!

because the whole magical thing is a museum saved for us all to enjoy mostly with the interest and financial backing of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. who began reconstructing a very run-down, almost-ruined Williamsburg in 1930. It’s a huge wonderful story I hope you get the chance to go to Williamsburg to hear one day.

People do live in some of the houses, you see costumed docents going in and out, we met one on her way home who stopped to visit, explaining that if you live there you can’t have anything older than 18th century visible (ladders must be exception, those don’t look like wood to me!) . . .

but there are rules, and one of them is you can’t have an electric lamp in the window ~ some residents use black-out curtains to hide the 21st century from view. Walking around at night, it’s DARK, and rather interesting to see because it wasn’t that long ago when all our cities and towns were dark at night. Very good for star-gazing!

And don’t forget, we’re colonial! No indoor plumbing here, at the Plantation, or at Mount Vernon. Quaint outhouses were a feature everywhere we went.

Each day at noon, they shot the cannon to tell the town it’s lunchtime! Tradition!

Every evening at 5 pm, there are marching fife and drums dressed in colonial costume. Crowds march alongside, keeping time to the drumming. Very Yankee Doodle Dandy. 🇺🇸

This adorable little bluebird was my favorite.

He just sat there, for a long time, looking at me like this, and not flying away.

He hopped around and did a complete 360º that included his backside! Made my day!

The Governor’s Mansion tour was wonderful . . . with detailed displays and a costumed, well-informed docent. You can ask all the questions you want and these people seem to know the answers and love talking about it. The Governor for each colony was appointed by the King of England, which put Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore in a real pickle when the Revolutionary War came to town. In passing, we learned that Lord Dunmore was a Murray who married a Stewart. As was my grandmother, a Murray who married a Stewart. I’m sure, no relation, but I don’t care. Love it anyway. History! Just the most exciting thing! And here, it all comes alive!

There’s an English garden behind the Mansion ~ if you look closely you can see a boy wearing red, and a girl wearing white (barely visible) in the maze. We watched them enter the far back side, go in opposite directions and run like mad to see who could find their way out first. Last we looked they were still running ~ sometimes only inches from each other without knowing!

There were terrific restaurants . . . not just touristy junk food, but the real thing, carefully and freshly prepared.

We loved Cochon! Just delicious, so pretty with candles and peach roses, and the Most AMAZING Potatoes Anna. We also enjoyed The Trellis for lunch where I had a salad I loved so much, we went back again, ate the same thing, wrote it all down, and made it for my girlfriends when we got home! Blue Talon was good too, but I’m not so sure about Fat Canary, which has a really good reputation ~ but not so much the night we were there. We loved the Rockefeller Room at the Williamsburg Inn. The nearby outlet stores are a total crapjob aptly said with a British accent, don’t waste your precious time, but in town, the store called Scotland, don’t miss it. All the coziest Scottish clothing, scarves, sweaters, shawls, kilts, woolens, tams, gloves, and shoes, the real things, wool, cashmere, and PLAID! I bought a Murray tartan scarf in honor of my grandmother!

Then it was time for a lovely 23-mile country drive to Jamestown and Yorktown . . . don’t miss these two. They’re nowhere near as big as Williamsburg, almost look like nothing comparatively, but do not be deceived … they’re SO interesting. Jamestown is the 1607 site of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. We were surprised to learn that we’ve been an immigrant nation from the very start. Many first families trace their roots back, not primarily to England, but to Germany, Poland, and Slovakia . . . The English brought them to work the settlement, in fact, America had its first workers’ strike in 1619, “No vote, no work,” which was settled very quickly when these first citizens got the right to vote. All this before the Mayflower!  Yorktown is where the last land-battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. Needless to say, fascinating!

Along the scenic “colonial parkway” there is no commercial development, only the shoreline (generally) the way it was long ago, but with plaques and memorials, and displays showing the history and how the Continental Army won the war, RIGHT THERE, where General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington in 1781 and ended the Revolutionary War!!!! Yay! . . . and so tricky of our guys, the way they did it! Stop and read everything! So interesting! Although, how you win a war in Virginia while the entire British Navy still owns New York is beyond me. Communication in those days  s l o w e d  everything d o w n . . . How did Boston even know what was going on in Virginia? Not to mention the King of England and his ilk. Three weeks it took the Continental army to march from New York to Williamsburg when they decided to “surprise” the Redcoats in Yorktown! Good grief! Whole thing hung by a thread! Anyway, it all worked out. If it hadn’t, think, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, would have all been, gulp, hung. Destiny! What a trip!

On top of all that fragility, it may not have happened at all without the French! The names of the French soldiers who made our success in Yorktown possible were memorialized, never to be forgotten. I love France. I love that they are always there when we need them, and that we are there for them. I love them most of all for giving us the Statue of Liberty. And today, right now in fact, because the news is just breaking, we come together again at this heartbreaking moment of profound loss. It’s happening as I write ~ I’m sure there will be national mourning, but this is a loss of great treasure to the entire world. A work of art and heart, a testament to the ingenuity of mankind that was Notre-Dame de Paris, since 1163, had every one of us in its DNA. It signified Hope, as so many historical things do and will be a deeply felt loss. My prayers go to the firefighters, saving what can be saved and then to the rebuilding. Because that is what will happen next. I know America will give as good as she’s got from the French people. 😪   MUSICA

We were touched to see that someone had thought to bring a rose, here, along the side of the road, at the Jamestown memorial.

Note: 1765. Fomenting went on for a long time, one Boston Tea Party did not a Revolution make. First there was a LOT of talk. Wonderful museums in both towns show it all, plus, there are colonial buildings, short movies, interactive displays, all so well-done and impressive.

There’s a special exhibition in Jamestown that will be there until January 2020 that shows what archeologists found when trying to recreate almost the unfindable, the forgotten, barely-recorded lives of the earliest female Virginia colonists. To sum it up, you would NOT want to be one of the earliest female Virginia colonists. OMG. These girls were in a man’s world to the nth degree. Virginia was not settled by poor families, husbands, wives, and children, escaping religious persecution like those on the Mayflower  . . . no, this earliest of American settlements was made up of men only. Wealthy English gentlemen, backed by rich investors, had come to the New World to find their fortune. (Money-money-money, always a problem.🤑) Sadly they quickly discovered something new about themselves: they didn’t know how to do anything. Couldn’t forage or cook, make a garden, build a house, do laundry in a river, sew on a button, make candles, didn’t even think to bring along a tiny jar to put a wildflower in for hope, (probably forgot their pillows too), poor babies, they were used to having servants do such things. It was dark! They were hungry! Took them one miserable year before they sent home for some indentured servants to boss around. Some destitute women in English prisons were given a choice to rot where they were, or go to Virginia to work and possibly accidentally marry one of these men. What would YOU do? In the first few decades of the Jamestown Settlement, men outnumbered women 6 to 1. Thank you. No. Prison for me! The boat trip alone would have killed me! But they did it, they survived outrageous things, and their fragmented, poignant stories are here in Jamestown for us to marvel over.“Our Principal wealth . . . consisted in servants.” John Port, 1619

Here we are at the “Siege of Yorktown” experiential theater, and there it was, a half-circle screen in full-glorious color, of the last battle. And for the first time in my life, I actually understood what was going on! I could not begin to show you everything Colonial Williamsburg has to share ~ it’s huge, so much to do, our five days didn’t even cover it. I think two more may have, or perhaps three, which is nice because going back sounds wonderful. Plus, the neighborhood, Richmond, all the Civil War things, Virginia is a treasure trove. Fabulous antique stores! I was going to leave you here, but there is one more wonderful thing I want to show you! Would be wrong if I didn’t.

Bassett Hall . . . the home of John and Abby Rockefeller, right there in Williamsburg, about two blocks from our hotel.

In 1927 the Rockefellers (both of them born in 1874) bought this colonial house in the falling-apart, left-to-die-on-its-own, but still loved by tourists, town of Williamsburg. The wonderful story of how they got involved, secretly started buying up Williamsburg houses, and saved the town for posterity, I will leave for you to hear when you get there. But their house, furnished and left just as it was when Abby Rockefeller died in 1948 was open for us to visit and so we did.💞 This time we were allowed to bring cameras!

You’ve seen this view of Joe before!

It looks like two houses, but it’s really one. The front house is original pre-Revolutionary War, but behind it is an extension that connects the two buildings, added by the Rockefellers along with the back house. They called this place their “Little Colonial Home.” Extremely wealthy people, his father started Standard Oil ~ but the glitter of all they HAD has almost eclipsed the magic of all they DID. For instance, besides saving Williamsburg, Abby started the Museum of Modern Art in New York, they donated the land for it, and for the United Nations building; they provided crucial funding to Margaret Sanger in her quest to improve  women’s health; contributed to our National Parks, and raised millions for soldiers after WWII. Just for starters. It goes on and on. They were an amazing couple, you can read about their life of philanthropy HERE. All the credit in the world goes to them, figuring out what needed to be done and doing it, making our world a better place in many more ways than one. Generous, not only in gifts, but also in spirit, embracing “enemies” and even helping them. Good people. Heroes, really. Interestingly, they were born when Beatrix Potter was 8 years old, and all of them with the same instinct for preservation and giving back. And boy, did Abby love to decorate. And boy, did she love Americana. There is a wonderful museum in Williamsburg with her name on it, filled with her collections. Your ticket gets you right in. She loved hooked rugs and I love hooked rugs, so there you go, kindred spirits! Want to see her house? Let’s go!

Look how cozy. Cuddle up with a good book in one of the two seating areas in this room, lots of movable chairs for when their six children were with them, charming needlepoint, candles, luvlee lamps, fireplace, and the rugs! I should stop right now and show you the rugs.

And this is just for starters! Whimsical charm!

Add so much color and warmth to the house. There was a collection of smaller, older, hooked rugs in the museum too.

This was my favorite, although it was really hard to choose just one. I was the only one on the house tour with my camera pointed down!

They’re in every room . . . mixed and matched in the hallways . . .

. . . along with flowered slip covers and bits of china . . .

Fresh flowers, silver, and pretty lamps. I love the hat!

Curtained windows, shaded to protect the vibrant colors . . . my photos don’t really do it justice.

Many large chandeliers, seemingly not electrified.

Lots of pink in the house. There’s that whimsical first rug.

This was the formal parlor. Look how deep and tall the fireplace is in their “Little Colonial House.”

It goes on and on, there was big square formal dining room, the table was covered with architectural plans for the renovation of Williamsburg . . . but let’s go into the kitchen, shall we?

Eeeek! I have dishes that look so much like these, only pink  . . . although I do NOT have, like, what is it, two cupboards-full of individual chocolate pots? (You can see how extensive her glass-front cupboards were in the reflection.)

See? Mine are called “Pink Cockatrice,” made in England by Minton. I looked but couldn’t find her pattern, perhaps they were “Rockefeller Only” by Minton.

More in Abby’s wonderful kitchen.

Fridge is still here! Don’t you love that color of green?

The door at the back leads to her flower room . . .

Where the vases were kept and arrangements made.

Abby’s kitchen, with views of the garden from every window. They had servants, a couple, who lived in another part of the house (also in darling rooms) and took care of things when the Rockefellers were away ~ I don’t think Abby did much in the kitchen having been born in a kitchen-free zone.

The kitchen wall-calendar was left turned to March 1948, the year Abby died, when time stopped in this house. This was really her place, her decorating, her baby. The house was bequeathed to Colonial Williamsburg by the family, and so here we are, learning about this couple, in remembrance and gratitude for every good thing they left behind.

Curvy sink and hanging dishtowels, view to forever out there. (Don’t worry, I’ll take you!) 🌳

No matter how many photos I put up, I am not doing it justice, if you haven’t been to Williamsburg, I hope your curiosity-hackles are up and someday you go see it for yourself.

The garden in early spring. When I saw the garden, I looked to see if Abby had any connection or special love for England and found that it was the first foreign country she visited in her life! Of course, look at this  . . . all of Williamsburg is a little cutout-piece of the English Countryside.

Here’s the view of the house from where Joe was sitting in the photo above, taking advantage of the sunshine. 🌞

There are acres and acres to explore if you have time. So civilized! And I do mean civilized! That’s what I loved about this trip. We went from rough, cold, violent and plumbing-free 1607 to 1948 (up to 2019 if you include us!) over 300 years of growing pains . . . and saw the progress, ever-forward, people doing everything they knew how (as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you DO better”) to make this world a better place, even when they had to fight for it, even against the odds, and never giving up. Remembering the thousands of heroes that took us from the shame of slavery, and zero rights for women and children, to the time of trusting science to cure disease that brought us from the dark ages! People have built and persevered and brought us forward, sometimes kicking and screaming, and found freedom that caught the imagination of not just Americans, but everyone, the world over. Isn’t it wonderful? So far, despite massive opposition, and terrible setbacks, which we still see in places, no one gave up, goodness wins in the end! Faith has triumphed. Because of people like us.💞So there you go. That was our trip, in more than a nutshell. Sorry I kept you so long. I know you have a life!

So yes, we’re home, and once again, reveling in the quiet morning light . . .

My boy was so happy to see us. The quilt is still in the kitchen because I’m not done looking at it yet! Look at them, aren’t they cute together? Black and white is such an excellent kitty color!

It’s a little pillow/doorstop I used a magic marker on to make it match Jack.  A little confusing for him!

I brought home a treasure trove of inspiration!

My new Tea Time Magazine was waiting! I love this magazine. It’s not very thick, but the recipes and pictures are beautiful!

Had a lunch for my girlfriends . . . two of which just got back from Paris!

I fed them my Williamsburg lunch, and for dessert, Siobhan’s Polenta Cake (from A Fine Romance), with strawberries and cream, we exchanged travel stories, drank pink wine from Provence, had tea and lots of laughter and a little show and tell . . .

. . . while the wild turkeys came to visit.

And the daffodils and forsythia began to bloom out back.

Then, Jaime had a Birthday Party for me. Isn’t her table beautiful? This is the true miracle, that I moved here from so far away and found such wonderful kindred spirits to have my birthdays with!

Lowely made the cake! Orange cake, with Orange and Pineapple Filling, Orange icing, and coconut on top! Sooo delicious! (Yes, Vineyard Seasons has it! Here’s the recipe!) 🍊

Margot wasn’t wearing any rings she could put over the candles, she put her earring on the cake so she could have her wish when I blew them out . . . it worked perfectly! Necessity is the mother of invention! (Now you know why it’s taken me so long to do this post! Lots of real life going on around here!)O U R   W O R L D

Driving down Main Street, spring is in the air on Martha’s Vineyard, porches are being swept, windows being washed, the season has begun ~ and first thing’s first, filling the planters with FLOWERS!

This is what happens here in the spring! The worker bees come out. Joe’s been composting the garden! It’s so nice to be home.

Thank you, George, for the world you left. As my dad would say, “You did good work!”I hope you enjoyed that, Girlfriends. Thank you for your great suggestions on where we should go in Virginia, you were a huge help . . . and thank you for being my friends. 💞 Now . . . this just in! Cups are shipping from England tomorrow!!!! If you can today . . .

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509 Responses to SPROUTS & BUDS

  1. Pamela says:

    Hello lovely Susan,
    I have tears in my eyes at that last poem. You have a way of finding just the right words for the times we are living.
    This post was captivating and moving and I read it all and savored being on your trip through the photos.
    Thank you for the part about France and Notre Dame and our connections with them. I was almost a French teacher at one time in my life and have such a love for Paris. I was singing French songs to console myself when I heard the news and noticed that they were doing the same thing in Paris. Your writing about it all gives me strength.
    Happy Spring everyday sights to you and Happy Easter bunny sightings – “lippity-lippity” Beatrix would say!
    Love and Light and Flowers*~*~*~*~*~*

    • sbranch says:

      Wasn’t it beautiful that they were singing? Touched my heart. I just keep telling myself, all will be well. Lippity-lippity is right. Happy spring! xoxoxo

  2. Daphne Pickren says:

    Thanks for the beautiful tour! I love history so this was an extra special post. The daffodils were so lovely -sometimes a little splurge warms the heart!

  3. Sandi from the Cape says:

    Happy Belated Birthday! This blog took me three days to read, not because I’m a slow reader, but it’s Spring and there’s so very much to do! I loved it and although I’ve been to Williamsburg and Jamestown a couple of times, my bucket list is set on Mt. Vernon! With your love of history and connections to our Patriots, I wish you would join our DAR chapter, even though I’m sure you have a local one! We’re having our state Spring Fling where we raffle off wonderful loaded baskets of goodies. Our chapter is making a basket that as chairman of the committee, I’ve entitled “A Book Lovers Book Club for One!” I found a ‘Jack in the Books’ tea mug at the Brewster Cook Shop – last one- to include in the basket! I was so thrilled to find it! By the way anyone can come to the Fling, just need to register by May 1rst with the MDAR and you might get this fabulous basket! Thankfully I have my own Jack Mug that I use everyday! Thanks Susan for another wonderful trip down history lane! Like I’ve said before, with so much joy you bring to us, you have certainly fulfilled your soul’s purpose!

    • sbranch says:

      Even tho’ my grandmother was a member of the DAR, I think I understand I have to sort of start over with paperwork and so forth, I don’t even know if there is a DAR chapter on the Island. I spoke to someone in Plymouth, just in passing . . . and haven’t gotten very far! How do you like being part of the organization? Tell me what you do? Love being included in your basket, thank you very much! Happy Easter Sandi!

      • Sandi from the Cape says:

        Hello again, and no you don’t need to redo all the DAR paperwork. You just have to prove your relationship to your DAR grandmom, with birth certificates of your parents and in the case of your father his death certificate. They are easily obtained through the mail. Also your birth certificate and the MV DAR registrar can submit all your stuff. Since your grandmom was DAR, all her records connecting her to the original patriot are in file in Washington at the DAR library. I enjoy our chapter and have been a historian and vice regent and am now the Parlimentarian. The connection to my 8th great grandfather who was a physician and came from France is priceless information to me. I would have never know about any of my ancestors and it’s all so interesting! I have the information about the Vineyard Chapter and the regents name and phone number. Please email and I’ll send it to you ASAP so you can get started if you want! That chapter would be so happy to welcome you! I’m jealous! You could be a famous DAR member like Claira Barton, Mina Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt just to name a few! If you need any help or information I will be happy to help. I’ll also know how the Spring Fling basket raffle goes! I know everyone will love that mug! Happy Spring and Easter dear Susan!

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Sandi! I copied, pasted and now have for my files all your good information and advice! Thank you so much! You made it so easy. I understand how you feel about your ancestors and the information being priceless, I feel the same way, so exciting! Thank you, Happy Easter, xoxoxoxo

  4. Bernadette M Gibson says:

    What a wonderful post!! Nobody blogs as well as you. I almost felt I was right there with you on your wonderful trip. The rugs were magnificent. Oh, how I would love one for my home. Thank you so much for taking us with you on your Spring vacation! Hugs and blessings, Bernadette

    • sbranch says:

      I asked the guide where to get those rugs, and she said, “I wish.” So I guess we are out of luck!!! I will mention there are SOME hooked rugs, and very nice ones HERE. xoxo

  5. Carole Boyer says:

    Dear Susan
    Could not enjoy your blog until today. But enjoy I did…..complete with Musica. Regret I didn’t know you sooner, but happy I do now. Thank you!! Keep up the excellent work. And I totally agree with a previous comment. Your blogs are never too long.
    I don’t have a kitty, but lots of your dishes are just like mine.
    Happy Spring!!
    Carole Boyer from Saint Louis

  6. Ann R says:

    Susan, what a treat an epic blog entry! While my British ancestors are very different (Hudson Bay Company employees that beelined it to Washington state and married NW Native Americans) it was fascinating to see the East Coast version. You know, you have the makings for a book there (or does the thought exhaust you!? HA) with this entry. My old hometown of Puyallup, WA just had their annual daffodil parade on April 6th it’s a tradition since the 1930’s so if you need a flower fix they have an hour and a half video on youtube. A belated Hau’oli La Hanau (happy birthday in Hawaiian) to you too. Aloha
    ps before I forget the Hawaii state flag honors the British in it, also a major st is call “Beretania st” Hawaiian for Britannia.

  7. Paula says:

    ~Susan~
    I was just thinking today “Where is Susan”? so excited you wrote!!! I loved your vacation with all the history , and it is has been on my bucket list the last several years One day I may make it there indeed, like I did MV already 2 years ago:(.. need to comeback!! In a few weeks I will be staying at the GrandHotel on MackinacIsland Mi, and finally a childhood dream coming true!
    You spoke of a wonderful SALAD you had twice ad then you made it for your girlfriends lunch, I have to ask what is in this yummy salad !!?!! Do Share:)
    Happy Birthday to YOU !! hope it is as special as YOU!!
    Happy Easter blessings to you and Joe
    xox Paula in Indiana
    p.s. my sweet sweet friend Lori(she can do English accent perfect) surprised me with purchasing the Corgi cup,Im so excited !! made me cry!

    • sbranch says:

      Awww, how sweet of Lori to surprise you! I’ll do another blog with the salad! Grand Hotel! I call it the “Somewhere in Time Hotel” because of the movie . . . always wanted to go there, just haven’t made it up that high yet! Thank you Paula, have fun!

    • FayE in CA! says:

      LOVED visiting Mackinac Island! I didn’t stay at the Grand Hotel, but had lunch there and after lunch I sat for a LONG time in a rocker on the porch and absorbed the magnificent view…comfortable rocker and a memorable bucket list visit. I recommend the horse drawn wagon ride…enjoy!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful trip to VA with all of us. I lived in VA for nearly 40 years and I miss it dearly. Your excellent photos just put a smile on my face and happy tears in my eyes. How wonderful that that period in history has been saved for all of us to enjoy and you have captured it well.
    It’s delightful to read about how you enjoy all aspects of a place and it gives the reader so much joy that you share it with us. I am grateful!

  9. DeAnna Passmore says:

    I love Williamsburg! Haven’t been there in years- your trip made me remember how wonderful it is! I have been wondering if Teatime magazine was worth a subscription- thoughts?

    I’m getting married in August and we’re taking an Alaskan cruise! So excited! My guy proposed to me in Scotland…in front of my family castle no less when we went last year!

    Thanks for the trip and fantastic pictures!

    • sbranch says:

      OH DeAnna! How exciting, you’re getting married! How romantic! Blair Castle in Scotland is our “family castle” (about 500 times removed at the least) … what’s yours? Have a beautiful wonderful wedding! … As for magazines, I only subscribe to two magazines . . . British Country Living and TeaTime. So I’d say yes, inspiring!

  10. Ruth Simpkins says:

    One of my favorite posts from you!! So much history!! Thank you for letting us “come along”!!

  11. Debra sewell says:

    Can i say i am blown away at this Willard!! Its history, spring, travel, food, road trip and music all in one big package for us. Like an endless birthday gift box. Thank you for so much sharing of this trip you two took.

    Thank you so much. I never knew that here, in USA, that one could aquire Cornwall daffodills!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Never saw it before myself! Just showed up and kind of fun because exactly one year before, we had been in Cornwall for our first trip! Like a message! People looking for spring couldn’t be happier! xoxo

  12. Jane Alexander says:

    I don’t know how you ever read all of these notes to you, and respond to so many. You so beautifully connect with people, and we appreciate being our good friend. I’ve been in Doylestown PA often until I moved to Texas several years ago. I loved you loving Wegman’s. Blessings to you for writing about so many wonderful places and what you learned and saw.
    With much love and admiration,
    Jane Alexander

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Jane! Everyone’s comments are my favorite thing. I can’t always answer them all, which kind of kills me because they’re all so good . . . but I try! xoxoxo

  13. deborah t. norling says:

    SUSAN, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

    I haven’t been able to check in for a bit, but, as always absolutely LOVE and ADORE your GORGEOUS post!

    Can not wait to make time to go back over it and drink in every detail.

    You may have mentioned this tidbit already, but, my BBC Shop catalogue arrived yesterday and , ” A Fine Romance ” by YOU, was on the front cover!

    So many exciting things going on for you and Joe, and you are so deserving of all good things coming your way.

    Thank you as always for all you do for us !

    Debbie

    • sbranch says:

      I just found out myself and HOW EXCITING!! I’m thrilled to be with them, as I know you know! Nice to hear from you Debbie, and thank you!

  14. Jodi Sanders says:

    Hi Susan… We were blessed to have a son that attended Virginia Military Institute so we spent much time in VA and enjoyed Williamsburg TWICE! I wanted you to add the newly released Mary Caldi book to your reading list, “Dear George, Dear Mary”. It’s an historical fiction written about George Washington and his first real love, Mary Philipse. It was fascinating to read about a young George. Mary Caldi is the First Lady of the City of Yonkers and she did a great deal of research in order to write this book. Thanks for brightening my life for 30+ years!

  15. Gail Golden says:

    Such a lovely post, Susan. I’ve never been to these places, but definitely plan to after reading your descriptions. America is abundantly blessed with beautiful, historic homes and I love seeing and photographing them. They have “character”, a trait I’ve admired since childhood. Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood of Craftsman bungalows. Adjacent to us was a neighborhood of historic homes, many with two stories, columns, and English style gardens. I loved walking and riding through, admiring their distinct beauty.

    My favorite parts of your armchair tour — learning about George & Martha Washington and seeing Mt. Vernon. He was such an innovator. And the bright colors of the rooms. Surprised me!

    Also, the bluebird!!! He was definitely posing for you. (I’m a bird nerd! )

    The Rockefeller House tour – oh, my. So gorgeous. Reminded me of the tour I took of Bellengrath Gardens outside Mobile, Alabama. Built by a Coca Cola distributor at the beginning of the company. My favorite part was the kitchen – her collection of china, silver, and crystal. I took lots of photos for my blog and hubby had to drag me out of there! I appreciate that wealthy people use their money to preserve history and beauty. We all can do our part in that endeavor if willing. I was disturbed and sad to learn that the Rockefellers supported Margaret Sanger, who was an advocate of eugenics.

    I hope you’ll do more armchair tours around New England – so much history there, too.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, the old neighborhoods seem haunted with families, and feel so peaceful under trees . . . Bellengrath Gardens sounds wonderful . . . on Margaret Sanger, she seems to be controversial person . . . even so long ago. Glad you enjoyed it Gail!

  16. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    LOVE your recent post. So many comments to make. I will start with this. I play this game with friends or my kids when we go somewhere (like where you’ve gone, a museum, a historic house, etc). the game: you get to pick ONE thing from this room (or display case) ONE, which is it? we have so much fun doing that! of course it’s a game but that’s the fun. my next comment: Tea Time magazine. Once I was reading it in the early morning with my mug of hot tea – the world was asleep. I read a fabulous article about Downton Abbey and at the very end – it told about the author. It said she was a tea expert and lived in SE Michigan and her name was Barbara. well, hold on here, my name is Barbara, I live in SE Michigan and I consider myself a tea expert – why don’t we know each other? LOL. so I found her on FB and sent her a message and within seconds, literally, seconds, she responded to me! and we arranged a “date” to meet and now ARE friends. we go to tea rooms together – Barb & Barb. She still writes for Tea Time. 🙂 and does a tea blog: barbsteashop.blogspot.com/

    • sbranch says:

      How fun Barbara, you found your doppelganger! Love your game! Gets everyone looking closely! xoxo

  17. Pamela Butterick says:

    Dear Susan! As always, I am transported. Your trip made ME so happy. You could bring springtime sunshine (and moonshine) and values and warmth and hope to the darkest corner of this earth. I felt as if we were side by side during your trip to Williamsburg.😍❤️🌷🏡 if I had to leave where I live, which I love, and if I could choose, it would be there. Or England. 😍 In the Rockefeller House, did you see the beautiful stairway that had been partially burned in the fire? I LOVED that they valued it and kept it. Loved the quotes, including Gladys Taber and Nancy Luce….this was all a pure gift to me, and multiply that by all your readers, many of whom probably don’t post…and you have blanketed us with a beautiful gift.
    And the fire and devastation at Notre Dame Cathedral… we DO Love them, and we WILL help them. We will be there next Oct. and it will be both heartbreaking to see but also heartwarming to note their progress toward rebuilding.
    Today is Maundy Thursday in our tradition. I collected a second grandchild yesterday, and I feel excited to go through Easter weekend with them. Hope Springs Eternal. 🥰🙏🏼🌷🎶🏡🌼🌺❤️
    Happy Easter to you and Joe. And adorable Jack. 😍

    • sbranch says:

      We had a wonderful guide, but she didn’t mention the fire! I really liked her though, she’d been there for years and was really into it. LOL, you collected a second grandchild yesterday! How wonderful! Will make it wonderful. Love you Pam!

  18. Marisa from Sunny Florida says:

    Hi Susan,
    Well, having visited Monticello, Mount Vernon was next on our list….so thank you for our own “Travel Guide” with so many great suggestions and tips 🙂
    P.S. I too found the lovely daffodils from Cornwall in our Winn-Dixie market…I emptied all the vases..haha

  19. Margot in Sister Bay says:

    I am glad that you finally made it to Williamsburg these last two years, especially this year. I knew you would love it!! I truly tried to get you into the B&N for a signing when “A Fine Romance” came out, but the guy in charge was a worm! You get the last laugh, because BBC shop knows you and promotes you! I am glad you got to my Scotland store. I also love the pewter shop, but the Shirley’s sold it to the Vermont Pewter. Still wonderful.
    Since I didn’t read your last blog until I arrived in Camden (NC), I would have fainted had our paths crossed. It is in FULL bloom here in VA/NC now. The worst of the pollen has been washed away! 🌲🦚🌸🌼🌷

    • sbranch says:

      I was sneezing down there! Yes, Margot, we did so love it, and thank you for Scotland, was wonderful!

      • Margot from Sister Bay says:

        I found heather earrings and lovely perfumes. Gifts for my Welsh brother-in-law. Did you ever hear of a Copley spoon? It was one they found in a dig and the pewter store reproduced it. Speaking of digs, they are digging near Edenton, NC and are finding things that match things from Roanoke Island, NC. So maybe the Lost Colony was not really lost!?
        So much history…Like you said we learned about the Mayflower, and now we are on our own to learn more!

  20. sharon taylor says:

    Happy Easter Susan, Joe and Jack,

    Lovely trip I just had with you in my imagination. I was wondering if you could please and of course if you have time to send me a small quote from your wonderful book of quotes to cheer someone up who is a little bit down in the dumps. Thank you Susan, greatly appreciated. Hugs and Belly rubs to Jack. Until your next blog, Sharon

    • sbranch says:

      Hard to know what would be perfect, but I love this one from Leonard Cohen: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. 💞

      There’s also this print you could send her . . .

      • sharon taylor says:

        Thanks Susan, Love the Leonard Cohen one, but the Reasons to Go On Living brought an immediate smile to my face and hopefully my friend will respond the same way and feel better.

  21. Allyson says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan!! Glad you enjoyed your trip to Virginia!! I grew up with my grandmother taking us to historical places and Mount Vernon was the first place we went and it started my love for old houses. I remember loving the ornate ceilings 🙂

  22. Barbara Irvine says:

    What a lovely trip for you and Joe, Susan … and thank you for sharing it with us! And there was Jack, waiting at home for your return.

    Happy Spring and Happy Easter to all !!

  23. Emily says:

    Hi Susan, I haven’t dug to the nether reaches of the comments to see if you answered this already but…when will the new mugs be shipping out?

    Beautiful blog! We are so lucky to have places like Mount Vernon and Williamsburg and the beautiful plantations to keep history alive (good and bad) for future generations. May we always know the value and importance of our history.

    • sbranch says:

      Very end of the blog announced they shipped from England either yesterday or day before, not sure, but they’re ON their way!!! Thank you Emily!!

  24. Paula Tyler says:

    What a wonderful travel log of places I have loved visiting. I especially liked learning of the Rockefeller home and connection to Williamsburg. I look forward to seeing their home on a future visit. Thank you for making these places come alive.

  25. Jeni Baity says:

    Hello and thank you for adding warmth and depth to my evenings with your writings and travels. It is never too long (I took 3 days to see the photos and read your travels).
    Warmest regards,
    Jeni Baity

  26. Christine from Covina says:

    Thanks for a lovely pictorial of history in Williansburg. Sure is on my wish list. I will get there someday! We have been many places but not the mid Atlantic states. Someday! Happy Birthday, Happy Easter, Happy life!

  27. Marilyn Rogers says:

    Thank you for the lovely trip to Williamsburg! The pictures were wonderful and all the interesting facts. I hope to go there one day.
    Blessings on your day to you and Joe.
    Marilyn

  28. Audrey says:

    This post was great timing for me, as we will be heading to Williamsburg and Jamestown this weekend. I was there many years ago, but in some ways I’m sure it’ll be like the first time. I moved to Virginia three years ago from Pennsylvania and know Doylestown, so it was fun to read about your visit there as well.
    So thanks for sharing your trip, couldn’t have come at a better time!

  29. Bernadette (@BernB9) says:

    Thank you, Susan, for the lovely memories of Williamsburg and Jamestown. My mother and I had a very special trip there years ago and your photos and words brought the experience back. These lovely moments come alive again even after our dear ones have passed on. Loved the Rockefeller home. I don’t recall seeing it at the time but your pics made me feel like I was part of the visit. Virginia offers a lot. One of my favorite states from colonial Williamsburg to the coast, up to DC, west through the Blue Ridge Parkway and all the history in between. You made a good choice to do a special spring trip.

    • sbranch says:

      Couldn’t agree more! It’s always so nice, the first time you go somewhere . . . you miss a lot, because you’re new at it, but you do get the lay of the land for the second visit!

  30. Helen says:

    Such a wonderful post! I too have a great love for Virginia. My two oldest grand babies live near Alexandria, another awesome place to visit. We will be returning to Williamsburg at Christmas time this year. I have heard it is awesome.

  31. Sandra Hernandez says:

    I have a friend who loves owls ! I’ve been trying to find the old bookmark you made with the owl on it. Could you please tell me where I can find it. T.Y. Love your blog !!! Happy Birthday !!!

  32. Margaret R Harke says:

    Loved the blog! Thank you for sharing another of your wonderful trips. I would like to know what the ingredients of The Trellis Salad you liked so much were.

  33. Linda Who Still Says "Land" says:

    In the photo of the bluebird, the background has the words “oh, for a bowl”. Which location of your trip was this image and where their more words to this phrase. Your trip to Williamsburg is a lovely early morning read with tea. This is now moved to number 1 on my bucket list of nearby places to see.

    • sbranch says:

      Funny you should ask because it was a wonderful quote that I wrote down, “Oh for a bowl of fat canary, rich Palermo, sparkling sherry . . .” by John Lyly (1553-1606) (Canary refers to wine from Canary Islands) Pretty cute eh? It’s written over the door of the restaurant in Williamsburg called Fat Canary.

  34. Darlene says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Virginia during springtime is a beautiful place to be. I was delighted to see those magnificent turkeys and the house getting new shaker shingles. I love shaker shingles.

    Since this blog is about American history, I highly recommend a book I read this week: The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty. Twitty is a Williamsburg culinary historian, and, while the book is about food, it is so much more. He gives his personal story and observations and his extensive research into his African and European genealogy, which is a history of the slave trade and slavery. It’s expanded my understanding and view of the South and the African influence.

    • sbranch says:

      I can imagine, because food is about so much more . . . recipes tell the stories! I’ll look for the book! I know I’ll love it. Although my book pile is taller than I am! Thank you Darlene!

  35. FayE in CA! says:

    Daughter’s family was here at our “homestead” in CA for the past week so I saved this post until this morning! They drove off at 4:15 a.m. to catch their flight out of LAX…heading home to MA and their 4 month young lab, Sailor. Your post was the best way to greet daylight after wandering the house to the EMPTY rooms.

    I, too, LOVE the colonial-ness of Virginia. Bless the Rockefellers for their devotion to our country’s history and restorations for all of us. I LOVE wealthy people who do unselfish good with their fortunes. It leaves me speechless and thankful.

    I love the kitchen in her home and, like you, that FAB green. When I visit historical estates/homes my favorite places are always the kitchens and laundry rooms!! Picket fences and swinging gates are such a delight at Williamsburg. Williamsburg makes me want to go back to simpler times, but the catch 22 is that those “simpler” times were A LOT OF WORK! You have always stuck to your core desire to keep life close to what makes your heart sing…which is choosing and simplifying in our 21st century lives.

    It will be hard not to carry that beautiful “new” quilt from room to room throughout the day…SO beautiful and a lovely place to land your eyeballs! FAB find waiting for YOU. Is Jack allowed to sleep on it…two precious gifts cozy-coz together.

    The vases of spring blossoms…all lined up to please guests at your birthday party…make a really sweet tablescape. I’m sending you a belated birthday wish for a happy, healthy journey through your brand new year. You deserve continued happiness and joy, my dear.

    OH, speaking of spring blossoms…Mrs. Rockefeller’s flower room…OMG…I started drooling, heart-longing AND turned into a green-eyed lady with severe jealous envy when you took me into THAT room. YUMMO X a BAZILLION!!!!

    Welcome home to your MV spring days!

    FayE!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, a flower room, ultimate luxury! I would love a screen porch and have a “flower corner” … a brick floor and a sink and counter in the corner with screens and open to garden beyond. That would make my day! Jack hasn’t gotten on quilt yet because it’s still hanging over chair, but he’s such a clean boy, I wouldn’t mind a bit! Thank you for the birthday wish! xoxoxo

      • FayE in CA! says:

        Yep, definitely a brick floor…never a doubt about that…loose bricks so that they clickety-click when I walk on them. I’d like a dutch door! Heaven. I would have one now in the kitchen, but Grayson is an indoor cat. I think screened-in would be great, but I think that I want windows with shutters mounted open on the inside and maybe some indoor window boxes beneath the windows. As far as screened in porch? I want a wrap-around porch overlooking the ocean like some of the homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket!! Aren’t dreams delightful???

        When Jack snoozes or rolls in delight on your green quilt…get the camera.

        Happy Easter to you and Joe. We celebrated Easter when the family was here last week. The Easter bunny remembered Grayson, too…of course! Pet Jack. Bet he is happy to have his two-legged, furless pals home. 💗💗💗

        On another topic…aren’t you fortunate that your Virginia trip had such gorgeous weather? The Virginia storms with rain/thunder/flooding yesterday and last night would not have made for the spring trip you desired.

        Finally, good to know that my “Corgi cup” is leaving England…can’t wait to see it and eventually the English cottage/garden calendar.

  36. Anne Lovell says:

    I had a wonderful time reading everyone’s comments, it’s just fantastic the group of girlfriends that are here! I’m getting antsy about my cup order, any better ETA on them? Happy Birthday. We were in Williamsburg and Jamestown years ago and want to go back, I’m sure there a more things to see now.
    Thanks for your blog, it is a great pick me up.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, cups left England yesterday, they’re on their way. Have to get through customs before they get to us and we never know how long that will take, but usually within a week, then a few more days to get to us!!

  37. cynthia says:

    Happy Belated Birthday!
    I loved touring Virginia with you. Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mt. Vernon and Shirley Plantation….all were wonderful. It is such a good reminder, in these most trying times – that America is strong and so are we. Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes! So right Cynthia! As long as we hold together, trust each other, know we belong together, don’t let outside powers divide us, that’s my prayer. xoxoxo

  38. Hi Susan! Thank you for once again taking us along with your on your wonderful adventures! I haven’t been to Williamsburg and such just yet but I feel as though I have traveled with you and learned so much! Thank you!

    I live in Hatboro, PA not far from Doylestown. How lovely that you visited Doylestown along your journey! I was just there yesterday visiting the most darling, tiniest shop! It’s called The Sewing Room and it’s located INSIDE the little Doylestown train station on Clinton Street. Oh, it was soooo wonderful! I recently discovered a true love of sewing and quilting with a Debbie Mumm book my son gave me for Mother’s day last year, and my husband and son kindly gave me a gift certificate to The Sewing Room for Christmas. My husband thinks I’m a bit (lot?) goofy for taking two trains and about an hour and a half to get to a place that would be about a 23 minute drive, but I just HAD to arrive by train to visit a tiny sewing and quilt shop INSIDE a train station!! I love traveling by train and wish we had more train routes to explore even more! It was so lovely and I stayed for hours chatting with the sweet ladies and browsing the tons of wonderful sewing treasures and fabrics in every nook and cranny of this adorable little shop! If you haven’t been there and are back in the area, you will love it! thesewingroomstore.com/ I’ve cross stitched and crafted over the years, but never had any idea of how much I would LOVE sewing and quilting! My first project was an Autumn Leaves wall hanging from the Debbie Mumm book my son gave me. I love to sew! Thank you for sharing your joy with us! Happy Easter!!

    • sbranch says:

      You’re my kind of gal, I would do the same thing! What fun! And a new love of sewing ~ I’m so happy for you! The website looks great! I’ll definitely check out the Sewing Room the next time we get to Doylestown, which I hope will be soon. Happy sewing, Sue! xoxoxo

      • Thanks so much, Susan! Yes, the journey was as much fun as the destination! You will LOVE the tiny Sewing Room! And yes, I am delighted to have discovered my new love of sewing and quilting! If I’m not sewing, I’m thinking about it! 🙂 I love the beautiful quilt you found on your journey! Your sewing room and quilts inspire me so much! Happy sewing and traveling and book making! Soooo excited for your newest book! My copy of A Fine Romance is lovingly worn from many, many wonderful moments spent traveling with you and Joe! Hope to meet you one day on a future book tour! I missed you when you visited New Hope, PA a few years ago – wish I could have made it! Best wishes for a Happy Spring! xoxoxoxo

  39. Freddie Ann says:

    My goodness, it has taken me two lunch hours to read all about your trip and of course visit all the sites through the links you put in for us, like the tour of Washington’s home, the restaurant, the Scottish store. I’ll be going back through this again over the weekend.

  40. Laurie Nico’s mom says:

    A happy belated birthday to you, Sue! Sorry it’s not as timely as should be. I was having foot surgery on the 10 and I have to say the next 3 to 4 days were a blur. Some kinda painkillers those were! Glad that’s over. Very limited mobility but my husband has been wonderful.
    Thanks very much for the tour. Very educational, especially for a Canuck like me. 😉 The flower pictures are beautiful as well and so inspiring. My hubby is planting our sweet peas today. Yay!
    Happy Easter 🐣
    Laurie

    • sbranch says:

      Hope your foot is feeling 100% better Laurie! Good to bed-travel while foot is healing! Win-win! xoxo

  41. Mary Large says:

    Loved your trip. Mt. Vernon is one of my favorite places to go. I have been there 3 or maybe 4 times. Did a sunset picnic on the lawn over looking the Potomac River several years ago. The funniest thing is that the sunsets on the other side of the house! Also love Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg. Maybe this CA girl should move East.

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

    good afternoon Susan, and girlfriends… wishing you all a Happy Easter, hope the Easter is good to you all. my tulips are blooming, the weather is gorgeous, 70 degrees and sunny, and we had a lovely surprise in the henhouse last night… a whole nest full of baby peeps had just hatched out, so we quickly transferred mommy and babies to the nursery where they can have some peace and quiet and the other hens won’t bother them. but we now have 7 brand new babies to adore over Easter. we are so tickled, and so surprised by this one. than heavens we cleaned out and prepared the nursery a couple of weeks ago, the timing could not have been better. I do love that tour of Williamsburg, and I adore that cute hat, now if it were a white or pastel color it would be perfect for Easter Sunday and the Easter parade. I have to scoot, have to get tons of eggs hard-boiled and ready for dying today so we can scatter them out at the Easter egg hunt in the park. know who would volunteer to be the Easter bunny??? we asked the firefighters, but no volunteers there…. maybe the sheriff’s deputies might lend a hand. any way on to boiling eggs and making up the dyes for the coloring, we have to have close to 40 dozen eggs for hard-boiling and I have 3 huge stock pots to do it in. this is going to be fun, and messy. Have a Happy Easter everyone. bunny hugs… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful! Baby Peeps! Happy Spring, Pat!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        Hello Susan, it was a wonderful surprise, got an even nicer one on Easter… baby quackers ( baby ducks ) were hatched out so into the nursery with mama hen and the babies, now we have mommy duck and mommy hen caring for their babies in the nursery. had to put the little ducklings in as the male ducks might just possibly kill the little ones so they will stay until they are feathered and grown a bit to where they can defend themselves. I would say we have a busy barn this year, which is good. still looking into getting some other breeds of chickens into the flock, like Speckled Sussex and Partridge rocks, the flock needs some improving.

        • sbranch says:

          Dare I say it? Men! Okay, I did. One day I was at the post office here on the island and the lady in front of me picked up a wide skinny box with holes in it, and inside you could see a whole bunch of baby chicks, you could hear them peeping like crazy. It was so cute! What a lovely addition to the flowering trees and blooming earth, baby chicks!

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            that’s the way it is with male ducks, but the little ones are quite safe from the males in the nursery. and since the little ducks peep like chicks mother hen won’t bother them. they are cute, and it looks like we have a couple more hens eggsitterin’ so we may be having more chicks in the near future. its definitely spring around here, and since the rains have lightened up a bit the tractor parade is starting up, up the road to the gas station and back down again to the fields for plowing. life goes on!!!!

          • sbranch says:

            Yes it does Pat. Happy egg sitterin’!

  43. Sue Roby says:

    I have to write to tell you how much I enjoyed your trip to Virginia! We lived in Williamsburg for five glorious years….our children were small then, and it was so much fun to spend time with them in the historic area of Williamsburg, exploring secret gardens and visiting with the wonderful people who work as docents and craftsmen every day. You did a beautiful job of showing Williamsburg as the wonderful living history museum that it is. I am so glad you spent enough time there to really see it and feel it! Thanks for a very special tour~~~

  44. Dear Susan,
    Thank you for taking us on a lovely Susan-esque travel adventure. I appreciate that you addressed the atrocities of slavery up front. That’s what I admire about you. Your happy gene helps you see beauty everywhere, but you don’t shy from the horrors that we tend to inflict upon our world. That balance is challenging to maintain, I expect, because I work to maintain that as well. I like that you said it’s up to us to “people like us” to bring us out of the dark ages. As a public school teacher in CA, I look forward to sharing this post with my 5th and 6th graders. We just watched most of 1776-the Musical, and listened to a few songs from Hamilton, and the kids loved them both. History, especially when you can walk in the footsteps of our founders, can be magical. Thank you for pointing out the lives of the 1st Virginia women. I shudder to imagine what they endured, and I’m grateful that a woman such as yourself lives during my lifetime!
    Happy Belated Birthday!

    • sbranch says:

      How fun for your kids to learn about Williamsburg. Someday they’ll go, thanks to you! Thank you Susan! xoxo

  45. Laural Wood says:

    We went to Williamsburg many moons ago. It will forever remain in my heart as will the Williamsburg bird bottle that still hangs on the back of our house. Occupied every year by a wayward bird. That’s for sharing your memories, now mixed with mine. ❤️

  46. Amy Lee from Salem says:

    So good to hear from you. Sounds like you saw many wonderful sights and the weather wasn’t to bad for your driving tour. I always enjoy reading the comments from the girlfriends and you do dear to answer some. The dam day I received your blog I got my BBC catalog. Congratulations😘, I noticed that A FINE ROMANCE IS NOW for sale through this wonderful catalog. I love the beautiful Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt you brought home as a souvenir. I’m a Quilter and a “Hexy addict”. I find it very therapeutic pricing Hexies. I hope you will enjoy your quilt. I’m also really enjoying all the beautiful spring flowers this year. Good to see you got home safely. Wishing and hoping “Enchanted” will be released for summer reading on my new porch. Cheers Susan💜

    • sbranch says:

      Cheers Amy Lee, and thank you! Yes, thrilled about BBC . . . who would ever have thought? Not me! Happy Quilting! xoxo

  47. Merci Schon says:

    OMGOSH Susan,
    Woke up this morning to read your most interesting story! What a wonderful surprise! My husband and I have been talking about taking the same tour you and Joe were on. We now have a sense of where we will be going and what we will be seeing. We also love history, historic places, special market places and antique stores. Thank you so very much, as always! Today is my birthday, so I found your story to be a very special “birthday present.”

  48. Barbara says:

    Happy belated birthday! I just now read your post and was wildly happy! So happy you enjoyed your stay in my neck of the woods! I’m jotting down my list to go to Wegmans, they have the best international section. Just picked up my cranberry chutney from the English section for my pork. I don’t know if you got to the Mercer museum, but it’s awesome! My great great grandfather signed up for the Civil War in what use to be a little library in Doylestown. Glad to see you had fun, and come back soon!

  49. Aletha Helm-Riter says:

    Susan … I Thank you for blog and posts on where you and Joe go together. I will never be able to do what you have experienced… so thru your eyes…ears…heart and soul I live thru you. I appreciate so much of your in depth and knowledge of history that you share every time. I always look forward to what will be written…. I am grateful for you both..what you can bring to the rest of the world and the impact it has on others lives…

  50. Sylvia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip to and opinions about Virginia! Could not believe how HUGE those turkeys were. :}

  51. Mary S. says:

    Thank you, Susan, for this wonderful blog!! We didn’t have time to go to Williamsburg on our East coast trip a few years ago, so it was so fun seeing it here! We did go to Jamestown and Mt. Vernon, though. I absolutely LOVE American history!!! I watched the video about the Shirley Plantation. So interesting! I love how they saved the silver during the Civil War by putting it all down the well!! And the bluebird…!!!! LOVED it!!! I just have to tell you – my girlhood friend and I (her name is Susan!) are going to England next month (May 9-28)!! It will be a dream come true!! I still can hardly believe it’s going to happen! She did all the planning and used your book, A FINE ROMANCE, (I have given her all your books!) to help with it! I am taking it with me to read on the plane and while we are there, in the evenings. xoxoxox Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Mary, you are going to have a wonderful time! I’m happy for you!

      • Mary S. says:

        Thank you, Susan! By the way, this will be the fourth time I’ve read A FINE ROMANCE! Love you! from Mary S. in Fresno, California

  52. Karen says:

    When I read all your lovely books and posts I sometimes feel you are kindred spirits with Tasha Tudor, beloved author and painter of Corgiville Fair, and so many more……I think the two of you would have been great friends….

    • sbranch says:

      It’s so odd that I didn’t find her until late in life. I would have loved a cup of tea and a visit!

  53. Sandra Thompson says:

    My day is always made when I see a new blog from you. On vacation to Williamsburg in 1974, I nursed my infant son sitting under a tree in picketed fenced yard of one of the buildings. Wish I could remember which one. Thanks for jogging my memory!! I think he knows, but I will mention it to him today. His 7 yr old daughter gave me one of your Grandmother books and I will be sure to write that memory. Thanks for book recommendations. Plus, because of you I have a collection of Gladys Taber books. ♥️♥️♥️

  54. Cindy says:

    WEGMAN’S BEST STORE EVER! Yes, I am shouting. My husband asked me once how I could spend hours in a grocery store? Foolish man, Wegman’s is the Vahalla of grocery stores. They have a great section of foods from Ireland and England too.
    Thank you for taking us along on your travels.
    Cindy
    West Chester Pa

  55. Heather D Thompson-Roberts says:

    I save your blog posts for Sunday mornings to take my time to read, reflect, and enjoy. Happy Easter, this was a wonderful journey through history and our colonial past in Virginia.

  56. Pat says:

    Enjoyed the blog…I live in central VA, been to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown but much prefer central VA hill country, the vineyards and Monticello, UVA/Charlottesville area, Richmond…maybe next time you visit you & Joe can hit those places. Happy Easter !

    • sbranch says:

      The whole state is beautiful! We’ve been to Monticello and the Hill country and loved it. Need more! Happy Easter Pat!

  57. Jeanne Hobson says:

    Loved traveling along with you on your trip. I have a friend who did the same trip that would have been the same time frame you were there. That is serindipity for you, you may have crossed paths and didn’t know it. We hope to do this same trip in the Fall. Will use a lot of your suggestions. Thank you for sharing! HaPpY Easter to you and Joe!

  58. Chatlene Scholey says:

    I loved,loved reading about your trip to Williamsburg,Jamestown, and Yorktown. I went years ago, but it sounds mote visitor friendly noe. Loved the Rockefeller home and the beautiful grounds there. Just finished reading Americas First Daughter” about Thomas Jeffersons daughter. Great story with lots of colonial daily life. Thank you for giving us a vacation that we can enjoy here st home. I am reading one of Gladys Tabors books that I ordered from your store. I really love it. Thanks for remembering Norte Dame. They were able to have Mass today. Happy Happy Easter to you and Joe. And Jack.
    Love, Charlene

  59. Oh Susan, I have savoured this post over several days because I really just wanted to drink it in and remember all of it. I didn’t want to rush it. Thank you so much for taking me through Colonial Williamsburg and your New England Spring. I doubt I will ever get to visit them in person, but have so enjoyed visiting them through your eyes and the lens of your camera. Happy belated Birthday wishes. It sounds like you did it up in style, as everyone should! Each year gained is a year to celebrate! There are far too many who never get to the grand old age of being of “An Age.” I loved the last poem also. So beautiful. Here is a poem for you, from my favourite Canadian poet the late Edna Jacques. A dear friend sent me several of her volumes as a gift recently and I am savouring them every bit as much as this post ;

    Spring’s Herald

    A frog is such a weesome thing
    To be a herald of the spring.
    From the old slough behind the trees
    They always sing on nights like these,
    Their cheerful, timeless melody
    That seems a part of spring to me.

    And I remember dusk and dawn
    Bringing to me Saskatchewan,
    Night like a blanket, thick and cool,
    Stars white as lilies in a pool,
    The wind’s cry in the hollow mow,
    Gulls flying low behind the plow.

    In fancy I can hear the birds
    Telling their love in tender words,
    And through the haze of April heat
    The tiny fingers of the wheat
    Lift up the soil, so eagerly
    From their small caskets to be free.

    Far from its peace, my heart still clings
    To the warm joy of by-gone springs,
    The wide brown fields where cloud and sun
    Makes the long dappled shadows run;
    The glowing furnaces of dawn,
    Bringing to me . . . Saskatchewan.

    Happy Spring to you and all of your readers, fellow kindred spirits! ♥♥♥

  60. Angela Hanson says:

    Can you tell me a little bit more about the emblem (toward the beginning of your blog) that has ‘First Africans, Angela, 1619-2019’ on it? I’m wondering about then name ‘Angela’. Also, OMG, you must have been in 7th Heaven in Abby’s house! It had your name written in every inch of that home! Super cozy and comfy and beautiful.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s the name of one of the first African American women slaves in Virginia. THIS will explain it better than I can. The emblem in the photo is actually a magnet we got in remembrance of this 400th year since the arrival of first enslaved people to America. Seventh heaven, yes, it did have my name on it!!! 😆

  61. Anne in Maine says:

    Beautiful post! You did such a wonderful job describing Colonial Williamsburg and your whole trip. I’ve always wanted to visit but now it’s a definite must due to your blog. Bucket list!!

    And a belated Happy Birthday!

    Anne

  62. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for your wonderful post, Susan, and for reminding me of wonderful visits to “CW!” If you go back, it’s wonderful to enjoy a candlelight concert in the little church. All of the details, the wonderful docents—so much to treasure. W&M has a nice museum on campus to visit, too. Thanks for sharing with us what’s real, authentic and true.

    • sbranch says:

      We tried for something at the church, but they weren’t having any events, still, of course, we toured it. The center of everything there! Thank you back Carolyn!

  63. Christine Dougal says:

    Oh Susan – your travels and pictures !!! The wonderful details you take the time to share! The shadows, the recipes, the good, the sad – what an amazing storytelling gift you have! As always thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your wonderful life and adventures with us! Can not wait for the next chapter!
    Much love and light,
    Christie

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Christine . . . I love that our back and forth is filled with life that matters! Real stuff for real people. I’m so glad you’re here! Next chapter coming soon! xoxo

  64. Juli says:

    Dear Susan,
    What a lovely post of Williamsburg. It is one of my favorite places to be. So beautiful. I admire all of your knowledge of American History! I also admire that you have stayed on your good eating diet, and have shared some recipes with us. How about posting a picture of your “new” self, for a little encouragement to all of us?
    We have a beautiful rose garden that is bursting with the most gorgeous roses right now. Spring is definitely here!
    Thank you for posting a wonderful blog. All of it puts a smile on my face!
    Have a blessed day Susan, Joe and of course Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m still wearing a mountain of clothing, seeing “new” self isn’t as easy as it sounds! But I’m still on it, and I’ll show more pics in next blog! Bursting with roses . . . we usually don’t get that moment until June. Maybe earlier this year . . . but the roses have leaves now so we’re on our way! Thank you Juli!

  65. Barbara Stevens says:

    Thank you for the visual feast and mini-tour. It’s been years since I’ve been to Williamsburg and Dow we need to go again! And those rugs. So beautiful. I photograph the same sorts of things when I visit old houses, one of my favorite things to do. Needlework, and all the dishes. Such beauty. Thank you! And I can’t wait for my mug to arrive.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m thinking, if customs is good to us and our cups get through quickly, we should have them by the middle of next week . . . they’ll go right out! xoxo

      • Barb Stevens says:

        It came and I love it! Now I just hope I don’t break it. 😳 and of course tea tastes so much better in this mug!

        • sbranch says:

          One time we were visited by a guy representing the manufacturer and he picked up the cup that was sitting on the kitchen table and BANGED it on the edge of the table! I almost had a heart attack. He hit it really hard, trying to show me how strong they are. And it didn’t break. I would NOT do this at home, but I DO put them in the dishwasher and use them every day and so far, so good. None have broken yet. ALTHOUGH, when we open the boxes that have been shipped from England, there are always a few, very few, broken ones. So it can happen. Just don’t worry TOO much, Barb, beautiful bone china is very strong. xoxo

  66. Lynn Quinn says:

    Thank you Susan for your wonderful post. My husband and I just came back from CW and had a wonderful time. There truly was so much to do! We couldn’t fit it all in over the long weekend. We did go to Cochon for Easter dinner and it was AMAZING! I will be thinking about it for days! I had the BEST cosmo that I ever had. LOL. I had originally been to CW about 33 years ago (with a 2 year old) and I didn’t really remember much of that trip so this was great! Thank you again for all the info!

    • sbranch says:

      We loved Cochon too. We sat next to the open kitchen and struck up a conversation with the owner/chef and he was ADAMANT that we HAD to try his fried oysters, which he gave us for free! Who DOES that? My idea of a great restaurant, opens doors with miles and miles of hospitality (and doesn’t measure the wine in your glass with a teaspoon!). I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Next time I’ll try the Cosmo!

  67. Cathy Lambery says:

    Hi Susan,
    Loved your photos of Williamsburg ! My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 49 years ago and returned again on our 25th anniversary. Did you know that Williamsburg rents some of their charming houses in the middle of the restored village. We stayed in one of them for a week and the rooms were full of incredible folk art , quilts and antique furniture. We woke up early every morning because of a rooster nearby and when we looked out our bedroom window we saw a pasture full of sheep . I remember early morning walks with my Joe before the tourists came . It was magical.

    • sbranch says:

      It sounds how it is to rent a cottage in England! I love having those villages “all to ourselves” … and early mornings, you really do. Next time we’ll have to try that in Williamsburg! We love having our own kitchen!

  68. nancy says:

    Oh, Susan, I really took my time on this posting. I lingered on the pictures and your words. I loved it all…..so, so much. But what really struck me? Those wild turkeys!!! Man alive! To see something like that…in your own back yard? Yikes! They’re beautiful (they look pretend). The only wild turkeys I’ve seen were somewhat colorless and much smaller (maybe they weren’t even turkeys). That’s what I thought all turkeys looked like. Those beautiful fat, colorful, majestic things were only drawings in books. Sorry, if I’m making a big deal about the turkeys when there was so much more. They just really impressed me. Thanks!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I understand! Pretty amazing, I think so too! That happened to be a moment when the sun was just right and the boys were showing off. We have some rather plain brown ones too . . . but the dads can show their stuff if they want to! Glad you enjoyed it Nancy!

  69. Debbie Boerger says:

    Couldn’t sleep, so I’m having my coffee and reading more comments on this fabulous CW blog. You have the Bestest Girlfriends!
    I’m darting about doing what needs to be done when you close up one place and go to another. Maybe darting is an exaggeration. Getting better at it after nearly 25 years. This will be our last northward trip in a car. Tom and I have explored most historic sites and museums along in the East Coast…. over nearly 33 years. I have done more when going up to Baltimore once a year…15 years, BT (before Tom). So I’ll be glad to just get on the plane with a small suitcase from here on out.
    Do any of You Girlfriends do the Snow Bird thing? Or, as some say, Sun Bird?

    I can’t keep my mind from wandering to the sounds of Spring peepers, old bullfrog in the pond, trees just beginning to leaf out and bloom, warblers stopping by on their way North…so many. Planting the veggie seedlings that a Maine friend offered, sitting on the porch in evenings, or out by the fire pit with neighbors. The smell of Balsam, pine, spruce. And of course the to and fro of the tide in our little Hog Bay. And waiting for the new eaglets to fledge.
    Even that thrill of the possibility of meeting a mama bear with new cubs on our walks is wondrous. Always take our Grizzly repellent during this time as well as late Fall.
    Be still my heart 🙂
    Debbie….almost on the way to Magical Maine

    • sbranch says:

      WE have the bestest Girlfriends!!! So true. Love every word! None of my local girlfriends do the Snow Bird thing, thank goodness, I would miss them, it’s bad enough that most of them take a winter getaway! Two or three weeks, but that’s bearable. Sounds wonderful Debbie! Isn’t it great when something is so much a part of your heart? The bear part, eeek, love to hear you have your repellent!!! Mmmm the smell of hot sun on pine needles, how I love it. Take care! xoxoxo

  70. Tara R Dollins says:

    Williamsburg was one of my favorite vacations ! The book you bought “Signing their lives away”. Amazing !!! Oh what those signers and their family’s went through to make this country independent. This author, Denise Kiernan, has other wonderful books as well about Biltmore Estate (please go visit this !!! extraordinary) and Atomic City. …. Anyways love this post . Be careful . Take Care !!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, when you find out that winning the war hung by a thread, these brave people really put their lives on the line! Thank you Tara, happy spring!

  71. Michelle Smock says:

    So, Wegmans is from Rochester, NY. It’s a great place. Whenever, my friend’s sister-in-law visits Buffalo from St. Paul, MN, she goes directly from the airport to Wegmans. It’s her favorite.

  72. Mimi says:

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful time visiting Williamsburg, VA!!! It is all just perfect, isn’t it? I hope you tried some of the taverns. We have been there many many times on the way down to the shore. When I saw that you were going there I mentioned it to my husband and he replied~ they will love it~ it’s English! When our son was a boy, he fell in love with the drummers and chose that instrument to play! He also became a French and Indian war reenactor, almost the same period in history! Thank you for showing us your pictures and telling us all about your visit. Love it.

    • sbranch says:

      I can see if you saw all this when you were a child how easy it would to become a drummer or an reenactor. Bringing the past alive! 👏 Thank you Mimi!

  73. Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

    Fabulous trip, Susan – thanks for sharing! I’m curious about the photo of the blue cookbook on the kitchen counter of the Rockefeller’s house. I can’t quite read the cover of the one in the photo, but I have a very old Prudence Penny cookbook that looks almost identical to that. It was passed down to me by my mother who probably got it from her mother. The first step in one of the beef recipes is to “Slaughter your cow”. Do you recall if the book in the photo is a Prudence Penny – just curious : )

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sorry Marianne, I didn’t get the name and I don’t see anything when I try to enlarge it. That is one heck of a beef recipe that I am for sure NEVER making!!! xoxoxo

  74. Lynda Rees Kling says:

    I have lived twenty minutes from Doylestown my entire life..please don’t let too many people inon our secret..it’s already way too built up….

  75. Darla Unger says:

    The table was beautiful that Jaime set, Also Thanks for the orange cake recipe. Hope you had a nice birthday.

  76. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Oh my, I don’t remember if I commented on this fabulous blog entry! The tour was wonderful, and your words and pictures made it so, besides the history! Thank you! And catching up with Pat & her peeps, and many of the comments, really a treat too! I’m really looking forward to your new book….you are amazing! Thinking of your Mom today (Twitter bunny pics) ….hope she’s doing good! I drove 2 dear forever friends to a luncheon, both have dementia, we were trying to remember the names of a beautiful plant we passed (both are long time wonderful gardeners), I couldn’t think of it either..we all laughed, but thank God I can still drive and get us there safely! Feeling grateful!

  77. Rita Wandro says:

    Hi Susan!
    You are an inspiration to all of us.
    Thank you for reminding us to go out and play.
    We 💗you!

  78. Joan Hall says:

    Hi Susan,
    Silly question but wonder why you travel in the advertisement van instead of your car? I think it would be very distracting and a loss of your privacy? Thanks!!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s basically the only car we have that can make it on long trips. I bought my Volvo in 1982, she’s a grand old girl that never leaves the island, and Joe has a Volvo from around 1990 … The van is comfy and fits an ice chest between us, and we still feel incognito because not so many people know who I am. When we’re in it, we forget it has the art on it, but then every so often, but not so often that it’s a problem, we’re reminded when someone says Hello!

  79. Meg says:

    Oh my, those Tom turkeys are BUFF! LOL.

  80. Kathy from California says:

    So glad your camera was pointed down in the Rockefeller house. Those rugs made my heart race; so beautiful! In fact the whole house was and I wish I could move right in. Abby’s kitchen reminded me of yours and vice versa. You both have such good taste. 🙂

  81. FayE in CA! says:

    Back to the future with this comment!

    Last night I had tea in your Mother’s Day cup and I put a saucer on top of the cup to keep it hot while I did a quick chore. It made me think that a SB china “cap” to rest on your cups would be very handy! I think that it would be a nice accessory to the tea-time pleasures. Maybe just a heart on the saver so it coordinates beautifully with each of your cup designs. Two sizes of the “Hot Tea Saver” would accommodate each of your cup sizes.

    The “Hot Tea Saver” would come in handy while reading or having LONG chats with friends…we’d put it on your cups while deep in conversation…then take it off and sip more HOT tea from the cups…means we would have to have a couple of the “Hot Tea Saver” so our friends’ tea stayed hot, too! It might save a trip to the microwave to heat our tea. Anyway, sounds lovely to me. You can probably come up with a better name, but “Hot Tea Saver” sticks with me at the moment.

    I just now wondered if you have ever thought of selling your own teapot cozy? Or, a sweet teapot for two? Maybe a couple different sized teapots to suit everyone’s desires. Maybe the factory that makes your cups would do teapots and “Hot Tea Savers”… I have your teapot made by Michel & Company (2002) and it is SO pretty with the wee pansies and FAB green. A treasure, for sure!

    Pinkies up for HOT tea in Susan Branch cups.

    Cheers to your day. The South Coast in CA is experiencing chilly and gloomy/spitty days…and days…and still this morning. Hope that your growing tulips and daffys are getting sun baths on MV!

    Hugs,

    FayE! 💗💗💗 🍵

    PS!
    Your Mother’s Day cup is STUNNING beyond words. The pansies…OH, the GORGEOUS pansies…they glisten on the cup! Every time I receive one of your cups I fall in love with the design, but right now I am SO enchanted and thrilled with my new Mother’s Day cup. One of life’s sweeter moments is looking into the “faces” of pansies…what is it about them that makes us so thankful they were created??? Thank you for designing this lovely, lovely cup, Susan.

  82. Barbara Stewart says:

    Hi Susan: I just received my catalog from the BBC Shop and a delightful book was featured on the back page and I hope you can guess which one was featured. Of course, it was your wonderful book “A Fine Romance.” What a wonderful compliment for you and your writing. I feel sure this will bring you in many more fans.

    • sbranch says:

      I felt the same way Barbara, what a nice compliment. I’m thrilled. Thank you!

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

    good afternoon, hello Susan, Girlfriends. Happy May day! a lovely day for maypoles, may baskets full of flowers and pretty hats with flowers on them. gave my new neighbors pretty may baskets, filled up some small jars with flowers and some water and put them in pretty little baskets and left on the front porch or on the doorknobs. a lovely surprise and a lovely way to celebrate May. the babies are all doing well, have a couple more hens sitting on their eggs so we have a another area sectioned off for them so the other hens won’t try to lay all their eggs in that nest and bother mom, plus she kicks out eggs that may or may not be hers if it gets to be too many. its nice and sunny here, perfect for a lazy May day picnic out in the back. even the cats are enjoying this weather. lounging and snoozing in warm sunny spots, just enjoying that good sunshine on their fur. of course the 2 new ones, our Christmas kittens, are snoozing in the sun and then investigating the peeps and watching them… they don’t go into the nursery… mama hen and mama duck see to that and those are not brave enough to take on 2 mommies. but they watch the little ones and listen to the peeps, seems to fascinate them. but the big thing with those is the naps in the sunshine, they love that, and I can’t blame them. sounds like a good idea to me. have a great day today everyone, Happy May day. hugs…. 😀

    • sbranch says:

      I used to get up from my naps when I was little, go outside with sugared bread my mom gave me, and lay down on the warm sidewalk (watching for roller skaters), listening to neighborhood noises, waiting to wake up . I still remember how wonderful that felt. Happy May, Pat!

  84. Susan Holland says:

    How do I go about purchasing the ticket to do everything? Am interested in going there for vacation.

  85. Dominique says:

    Dear Susan ~ Beautiful post, as always. I wish there was time to convert you to classical liberalism. *Sigh*

    • sbranch says:

      I probably like parts of it, I like parts of everything! But mostly, I’m for the people, if it puts us first I’m for it. I don’t know if that has a name. There’s plenty of money in this country. It’s how we spend it that is in contention. I say spend it on the people who provide it. I say make a beautiful healthy world. I’m a fiscal conservative, and this borrowing by both sides in order to make the economy look good drives me up the wall. Giving banks free reign to walk off with everything, letting the food industry feed us poison food, allowing us to drink dirty water, not caring about climate change, letting our children, our BABIES, FEAR getting up every morning, FEAR school, letting people with pre-existing conditions (and families, homes, loved ones) go without healthcare, letting our children graduate college $30,000 in debt AND charging them interest in order to PROFIT on them, allowing Russia to interfere with our elections, sow discord on Facebook and DIVIDE our wonderful country, these things are anti-people.

      • Dominique says:

        Yes, and those are all beautiful things. People do wonderful things and they do dreadful things. Indeed, I think that it’s not religion that poisons people but people who poison religion. You can extend that metaphor to any office or institution. I do not want to put that much trust in government officials who are as corruptible as the rest of us (the bank bailout is just one example of our corruptible nature). One of the people that converted me to classical liberalism was the wonderful Dr. J. Rufus Fears.

        • sbranch says:

          Interesting. I agree, people poison religion, but omgoodness, religious leaders have done terrible things to their followers, Jim Jones for a ridiculous example, but it’s everywhere. And it’s fairly easy because some people want to believe in SOMETHING so much, they put ALL faith in a person … because they don’t trust their own minds, don’t believe in themselves, want to hand their decision-making to someone else, so they are easily duped into cults, or follow religious leaders who drive cadillacs. I’m not a doctrine person, because I find something wonderful or awful in almost everything, so I pick and choose, probably lots of folks do. I also don’t have a political or religious hero ~ both are suspect to me because of the power/money aspect. I have normal-people heroes, people who’ve done good, extraordinary, fine things, heroes who’ve overcome adversity and left the world better than they found it. I like a whole lot of what Dr. Fears says, but I think money is the prime motivator for many, they promote greed as “good,” or say things like “it’s just business,” while principal is the motivator for others. These two are at war and always have been. Climate change is all about that. And I would say the Civil War was partly a result of this conflict. We aren’t to trust our government, that’s why the founders gave US so much power, kept the states separate, so WE can steer our way, we get the government we deserve. If we don’t vote, or don’t read about what these folks are truly about, it’s to our own peril. But with HUGE populations, unless the common good is cared for, there will be violence and uprisings. If the money all goes to the top, it breeds unrest, and there is NO reason for that. There is enough for everyone, working to make a better world is my prayer, so backing people on that quest is what I try to do. All fascinating to me, I love the subject of finding a better way. Nice to talk to you Dominique!

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