Celebrating Susan!

 

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Celebrating Susan… today and always! ♡

 

Hi Friends!

Inspiration is all around us. But every once in a while, if you are very fortunate, you will discover someone who inspires you in so many ways! If you are very, very fortunate… you may even meet that special someone who has influenced your life, and have the chance to share your gratitude. I’ve been saving this story until this week ~ for it is such a warm and joyful memory. Hope you will feel a spark of my excitement, too!

Today we are celebrating Susan Branch!

Susan Branch in her garden on Martha's Vineyard

Susan in her garden on Martha’s Vineyard    {Photo Credit ~ Joe Hall}

Susan Branch is the delightful author and illustrator of fourteen best-selling ‘Heart of the Home’ books. Each book is a hand-lettered, watercolored treasure to be enjoyed again and again! It was my good fortune to discover Susan in 1986, when her first book, Heart of the Home, was published. This special book was the perfect gift for my mom, who loves making home a warm, cozy, happy place! Over the years, my collection of Susan’s books has grown. Her books have been given, with love, as special gifts of the heart. Susan has hand-lettered and painted so much love into each of her books. Filled with whimsical charm, Susan’s books feel “like children’s books, written for grown-ups!”

Her creativity is stirred, blended, and mixed with Susan’s kindness, joy, and caring ways.  She is adored by her fans worldwide!! Susan has always had a strong desire to connect with her readers, through personal letters, lovely newsletters, and her delightfully engaging website. Through her charming blog, Susan has gathered a community of kindred spirits, who enjoy the small moments that make each day special! We are the ‘Girlfriends’ ~ kindred spirits, one and all!

What joy the Girlfriends felt when Susan and Joe decided to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a crossing on the Queen Mary 2, and two months spent meandering through the English Countryside! We shared the adventure right along with them on her blog. Susan’s letters, photos, watercolors, and videos thrilled us all. As they traveled, Susan kept a detailed diary and upon returning, spent many months hand-lettering and watercoloring her latest book,

                  A Fine Romance ~ Falling in Love with the English Countryside

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Heart-shaped gingerbread scones and a cup of tea greeted my copy of A Fine Romance… hot off the press. What a joy to read again and again!

A Fine Romance is a lighthearted, hand-painted treasure sharing her affection for Joe, their time in England, and the beauty of a homemade life. It’s part love story and part travel guide… and proof that dreams can come true!  I laughed, cried, and my heart danced as I followed Susan and Joe’s journey through the English countryside. Susan’s charming diary leads us through wildflower meadows, along grassy fields filled with lambs, and takes us into the historic homes and gardens of her favorite artists and writers. Together we travel footpaths that lead to lovely tea rooms, quaint antique shops, and cozy inns. An interactive index on Susan’s website provides so many helpful tips, resources, and ideas for enjoying an adventure through the English countryside ~ a real journey or a shared dream!

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 While hand-lettering and painting in her studio on Martha’s Vineyard,

Susan promised herself that when the book was finished, she would come…

meet the Girlfriends!

So, last summer, Susan and Joe packed up their ‘A Fine Romance’ van and set out on a cross-country booksigning tour. Two events were planned in Chicagoland and Girlfriends came from throughout the Midwest to greet her. You can only imagine my excitement and joy!! I would have the great fortune to meet the person who has inspired our cozy home, several of our family traditions, our holiday gatherings, my garden, and so much more! ♡ These magical events happened exactly one year ago this week…

 

 Visiting with Susan Branch… 

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Girlfriends crowded into Anderson’s Bookshop to meet Susan Branch.

Anderson’s Bookshop was completely filled with chatty Girlfriends ~ kindred spirits and special friends meeting for the very first time! Susan had designed special name tags for us to wear, so that we would recognize one another. (It felt like we already ‘knew’ one another from our conversations on her blog over the years). It truly felt like a reunion! Susan shared wonderful stories about their adventures in England. She answered all of our questions. We were enchanted, as she took time to talk with each one of us, before signing our books. We all enjoyed the chance to chat with Joe, too.  I will always remember being the first in line to visit with Susan… and the big hug she gave me! I was so thrilled and excited, that it took my breath away! Just thinking about it today makes my heart smile!

 

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Susan and Joe traveled across the country in their special ‘A Fine Romance’ van, bringing joy and happiness everywhere they stopped!

We just couldn’t let this magical, long-awaited evening end. So, our conversation continued outside later in the evening.

We ended our first visit by saying, “See you again at the Tea Party!”

 

Two days later, over one hundred Girlfriends gathered at the Westmoreland Country Club for an Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch. It was such fun to meet even more Girlfriends. Susan would be so thrilled to know that so many of the Girlfriends that met in person that afternoon have kept in touch, becoming true friends! We are ever so grateful to Susan, for bringing us all together! When Joe and Susan arrived for the Tea Party, Susan spotted me (with my camera, of course) and greeted me with a cheery “Hi, Dawn!” It was a perfect afternoon… a Tea Party with Susan!

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Joe and Susan arrived at the Westmoreland Country Club for a grand Tea Party.

 

 Susan shared many of her favorite stories about their adventures in the English Countryside.

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She charmed us with the story of how she met the Beatles!

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As she enchanted us all with her storytelling, I peeked over at Joe, listening closely, from across the room.

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Love filled the whole room that afternoon!

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{Photo Credit ~ Joe Hall}

Then it was time to wait in the looooong line to talk with Susan, as she signed our books. When you are waiting in line with kindred spirits, it is a true joy!

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(Photo Credit ~ Karen P.}

 Can’t you just feel the happiness? 

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It was just lovely to meet you, too, Susan!

You are such a blessing in our lives!

{Please come visit us again!}

Scatter sunshine!

♡Dawn

                                        P.S.  Susan is currently working hard on her next book… and we can’t wait!

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30 thoughts on “Celebrating Susan!

  1. How lovely this tribute to sweet Susan is, Dawn! It was soooo nice to meet her in person and share a little mutual admiration society time with the Girlfriends. Hard to believe it’s been a year already! I am so thankful to have met you, too! xo

  2. Hi Karen! We have such sweet memories of that afternoon at the Tea Party! Thanks again, for being a photographer extraordinaire! You traveled so far that day. It was truly lovely to have time to visit. See you very SOON, Karen! ♡

  3. I have tears in my eyes, my cheeks are damp.
    What a beautiful tribute to Susan! Although I’d discovered Susan a few years back, and joined {hopeless} Twitter just so I could follow her on the QMII and her English adventures, it was only about a year ago, late to the party, that I really started to get to know some of the Girlfriends. Now, some of you have become very special friends indeed, and I am privileged to call you friends.
    Oh, I’m getting all in need of a box of tissues now ~~~ and can you just see the love and devotion for Susan simply pouring out of Joe’s eyes?
    Last year, I admit, I was quite envious of so many of you, not only meeting Susan, but each other too. Slowly, names are given faces, friendships formed, and a year on much is making more sense than last year when it all seemed like a dream and a whirlwind from such a distance, and names were just names on Twitter, but the excitement was palpable, even from over three thousand miles away.
    Beautiful photographs, beautiful words, and from a beautiful ~~~ Kindred Spirit ~~~ Thank you ~~~
    ~~~waving~~~ Deb in Wales

  4. Oh, Dawn. What a fun pair of events. I remember first being exposed to her first book by Victoria magazine. I bought that first book and used it as my go to source for inspiration and personal entertainment. I can look at her illustrations and her jolly writing every day and never tire of it. What fun to meet her…she and Joe look like a darling couple and how generous they both are to spend quality time with their adoring fans.
    Such a fun post.
    Karen

  5. Oh Deb! Such sweet words! We all feel the same way… and the journey from Girlfriends to true friends has been filled with joy! It won’t be long until Susan visits your side of The Pond again. I’m so happy that we are only a ‘click’ away from Wales… and close at heart! Waving back! ♡

  6. Hi Karen B, Somehow I just knew you would love Susan’s books. So many wonderful entertaining ideas to use on your lovely patio! Susan is planning some book signings in California in early November. The details are on her blog. It’s so nice that so many more people will have the chance to meet her soon! Happy writing, Karen! ♡

  7. Hi Nellie! So happy that you stopped by today to celebrate Susan with us! Autumn is one of my very favorite books!! Each page is a gift of celebration for the beauty of the season. I’ll come visit Friday! Next week, I’m also writing about the Autumn book here. Our weather is cooling off, and it’s really beginning to feel like Autumn. Enjoy!♡

  8. Dawn, I’m so glad you wrote about this! I think so often of those two wonderful events last September – hearing Susan talk, meeting her and meeting Joe – and meeting you and the other girlfriends! What a treasure.

  9. WOW…..this would be EXCITING! It takes a lot of work and courage to branch out as such, to write, to keep going, to submit to publishers…..but to follow one’s HEART is one of the toughest things to do in an industry that is critical (and it must be that way) and often following not the heart, but the MARKET. But when someone finds the core of what people really want, then the “market” follows, and there is success. Bravo to Susan Branch, bravo to all those who follow their heart. HI DAWN! Anita

  10. Hi Ginnie! We have so many very special memories of that wonderful week! It’s such fun to look back at the pictures. It was so nice that we met, Ginnie, and have kept in touch. Kindred spirits! Happy Autumn days! ♡

  11. Hi,Anita! Susan has truly followed her heart! We are eagerly awaiting her next book. She is currently illustrating the story of how she moved to Martha’s Vineyard, bought her first home, and discovered her artistic talents. She has recently started her own publishing company! So she will be able to follow her heart in more ways! It’s so exciting that you are following your heart, too, with your poetry! Your creativity and passion will open exciting new doors, Anita! Lovely days ahead! ♡

  12. Oh, Anne! Happy tears!! Thank you so much for your kind words. I know how much you loved reading ‘A Fine Romance,’ too! Someday I hope we can sit together over tea and share travel stories! Have a lovely day! ♡

  13. Hi Maria! Thanks so much for your heartwarming words. Since Autumn is your favorite time of year, I hope you have Susan’s ‘Autumn’ book!! You would adore every page of this wonderful book! Wishing you crisp, colorful Autumn days, Maria! ♡

  14. Oh My Dawn! This is so sweet, you make tears in my eyes. What a wonderful world you are making here for yourself and your friends on your lovely blog. Thank you so much for including me! xoxo

  15. SUSAN, dear one! I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today! We are all celebrating YOU with this ‘love letter’… right from my heart! Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of our delightful Tea Party. So many treasured memories and new friendships were made that day! You continue to brighten the world and inspire us all. Come visit us in Chicagoland again soon! We will plan something special to celebrate your next book. Happy writing and painting, Susan! ♡

  16. Hi Dawn. Those books look absolutely beautiful! And it sounds like a wonderful time meeting someone you have looked up to. I felt very much the same way when I met Tim O’Brien once at a book signing event and talked with him for an interview piece I was writing. He’s such a writing inspiration!

  17. Hi Chris! We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to meet those who truly inspire us! Professionally, I was also most fortunate to meet author, Debbie Miller, my inspiration for literacy instruction. She was my model for the most wonderful reading and writing lessons! Of course, we took a picture together and it was framed on my desk. My students knew that was a very special picture with MY teacher. They would often ask me about that picture. They were discovering that we should never stop learning! It’s so great that you met and interviewed Tim O’Brien! We can soak up all of the inspiration, grow creatively… and inspire others!! Have a terrific weekend, Chris! ♡

  18. Dawn, I remember being caught up in last year’s excitement of A Fine Romance, and have read every tweet and blog post I could find by ‘the girlfriends’ who got to meet Susan. I was so hoping for a signing here in southern Alabama, but she could be stretched only so far and so thin! In 2000 I was fortunate to meet her at a signing in Pennsylvania while passing through on vacation, and was walking on air for days afterward! She was such a gracious lady … I felt like we were the only two people in the room once we were face-to-face. Lucky you to have two such opportunities; thanks so much for sharing.

  19. Hi Gabi! It’s so nice to meet more Girlfriends! It will be lovely to visit one another’s blogs. Thanks for visiting today, Gabi! ♡

  20. Hi Sharon! So happy that you stopped to visit today! It’s so nice that you were able to meet Susan years ago. I understand exactly how it felt to be ‘walking on air.’ I felt that way for many days! It’s such fun to look back at the pictures… and remember the excitement! Thanks so much for following, Sharon. Now I know who you are!! Happy Autumn days! ♡

  21. Dear Dawn….

    Oh my goodness… what an absolute delight you’ve given me. Thanks so much for stopping on my blog so that I could get to know you… already I think we must have something of the kindred spirit in us. And for this lovely, lovely post about Susan. How blessed you are to have met her in person.

    Sharon Calvert mentioned to me that Susan had tweeted me about my own post about her new book. So I had to go look… sure enough! Makes it a small, beautiful world indeed.

    You have a lovely blog… I’ll be back too. Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places….
    Brenda
    xox

  22. Hi Brenda! Your kind words have truly touched my heart. I’m so happy that you stopped by to visit today. Susan has gathered such a wonderful community of kindred spirits, both near and far. It’s such fun to get to know new Girlfriends everywhere! Best wishes as you work on your memoir. Heartfelt thanks, Brenda, for adding me to your blog roll. Happy writing! ♡

  23. Susan Branch is one of my very favorites – how lucky to meet her. She is every bit as adorable as her drawings and art! This was a great post for a rainy day in Savannah – I feel much brighter!

  24. Hi Jayne! So glad you stopped by to celebrate Susan with us! Our visits with Susan were totally charming and delightful in every way. Jayne, I really enjoyed your Nantucket photos. Thanks so much for sharing them! Wishing you happy Autumn days in Savannah! ♡

  25. Good morning sweet Dawn! How I love this post…it makes me want to truly follow my passion to make a book- a passion I’ve had since I was a child.

    Thank you sweet friend for coming to visit me yesterday! Erik Satie’s music really captured my heart and what it wanted to say. Sweet September just came out of my mind when I heard his music.

    Wishing you a lovely remainder to this great month! Happy Sunday, Anita

  26. Bonjour, Anita! One day I know that you will follow this passion! Would it be a book of poetry? It would most certainly be a work of art and a work of ‘heart.’ Hold fast to your dreams! Erik Satie’s music holds such a special place in our hearts, for it was a part of our wedding day!

    As summer comes to an end, we have so many Autumn joys to anticipate.
    Wishing you sweet September days, Anita! ♡

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