Kindred Spirits…

AfternoonTea

Hi Friends!

So many treasured moments to hold in our hearts forever!

Last week, a lovely group of kindred spirits gathered from across the Midwest

to enjoy a long-awaited, experience of a lifetime ~ Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch.

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For the past thirty years, Susan Branch‘s handlettered books, filled with lovely, watercolored illustrations have been such an inspiration in my life.  Our home and garden, our family traditions, our holiday celebrations, and most recently, our little blog, have soaked up the flavors of Susan’s creativity. Susan generously shares her gifts, time, and kindness with adoring readers from across the globe. She always shows us how much she appreciates her fans.

This summer, Susan and Joe are celebrating the publication of Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, already a New York Times Best Seller, by driving across the country to meet Susan’s devoted fans. Special events are planned in 23 different cities, as Susan visits small, independent bookstores across America.

Here in the Midwest, our excitement grew quickly, as tickets sold out and the big day drew near! Susan would be the celebrated guest at an Afternoon Tea in her honor, where she would speak, answer questions, and sign books for her fans (lovingly known as her Girlfriends). This event was Susan’s second fundraiser for The Women’s Exchange of Winnetka, where women are empowered to follow their creative spirit.

Please join us for Afternoon Tea ~ with Susan Branch…

Westmoreland

{♥ Photo credit: Linda M.}

Driving through heavy Chicago area traffic in a terrible rainstorm couldn’t even dampen our spirits on May 10th. We were all just thrilled to spend an afternoon with Susan Branch… and we were bringing our own ‘sunshine’ to welcome her! The Springtime downpour ended just in time for our special gathering of Girlfriends, at the beautiful Westmoreland Country Club, in Wilmette, Illinois.

TeaFriends

{♥ Photo credit: Linda M.}

A friend (who I met at Susan’s last tea party) and I arrived early so that we could visit. We have kept in touch through cards, emails, and our blog for the past two years. We shared a book, handmade cards, and perennials from our gardens with one another. True gifts of the heart, from kindred spirits! Very soon more Girlfriends arrived and we quickly discovered that we were all kindred spirits. The Girlfriends at our table came from several towns in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. We enjoyed getting to know one another, as we waited for Susan to arrive. {Huge, heartfelt thanks to Linda, Jo, and Karen, who graciously shared photos for today’s post!}

IsleofDreams

Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, is an inspiring, handlettered, watercolored memoir. It is the most wonderful book!! Based upon diaries that she has kept her entire life, Susan has written her memoir in three parts. She thinks of The Fairy Tale Girl as the appetizer, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams as the main course, and A Fine Romance as the dessert. Susan’s devoted readers have hungrily awaited each new book in this delicious trilogy!

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WelcomeSusanBranch

As guests continued to arrive for the tea party, a hum of excitement began to build throughout the room. I stepped into the lobby, peeked out the window, and to my surprise… standing outside all alone (while Joe parked the van) was Susan Branch! Without even stopping to think, I went out on the porch to greet her. (It must be the teacher in me!) I welcomed Susan and there were several big hugs ~ just the two of us! We talked about all of the places they had visited so far on this trip, our parents, and Susan’s excitement to meet everyone. (Thankfully, I had my camera in hand to capture this unexpected moment, while we waited for Joe!)

WelcomeGirlfriends

It was time for Susan and Joe to be escorted inside by Deb, the event planner. There were 140 excited Girlfriends (and even some Guy friends) waiting inside! Still on cloud nine, I quietly ‘floated’ back to my table at the tea party. Then it dawned on me what had just happened… a treasured moment, totally unexpected, captured in my heart forever!

TimeforTea

The tea party was a feast for our eyes and taste buds. Fresh fruits, delectable tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts filled our plates, while stacks of our beloved Susan Branch books added a literary touch to our tables!

Dawn&SusanBranch

{♥ Photo credit: Jo R.}

Susan visited each table, warmly greeting all of the Girlfriends, while Joe took pictures and chatted with everyone. Susan and I enjoyed another quiet conversation, as I eagerly shared how closely I connected with her first home on Martha’s Vineyard. She bought her little home, Holly Oak, on her own, and with help was able to create the home and garden of her dreams. I knew just how she felt… and how this little home would forever be a part of her heart! Kindred spirits!

SoHappy

{♥ Photo Credit: Linda M.}

It was time for Susan’s talk. She positively glowed with excitement and charm. Can’t you just feel the excitement in the air? Susan shared several favorite stories from her memoirs, talked about the writing process, answered all of our questions, and even delighted us with a little song.  She brought along two very special books to share with us.

Wilmette2016

{♥ Photo Credit: Joe Hall}

Susan shared how important Girlfriends have been throughout her life. We felt the same emotions as we listened with rapt attention and so much admiration. Kindred spirits, one and all!

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Susan shared stories of growing up, in California, as the oldest of eight children. She talked about the important lessons she learned from her parents. She shared the exciting news about selling the movie rights for her memoir. Together we suggested actresses that could portray Susan and the actor who could play the role of Joe, in a movie or tv series based upon her life.

SusanBranch2

Getting to know her readers and talking one-on-one with each of us might be Susan’s favorite part of her booksigning tours. We each wore nametags (designed by Susan), so she recognized each of us right from the start. Many of the Girlfriends already know Susan quite well from her engaging blog comments, Twitter feed, and popular Facebook page. What a treat it was to visit in person that afternoon! Kindred spirits!

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The heartwarming stories that we shared, let Susan know just how much her books mean to all of the Girlfriends. Susan took the time to connect heart-to-heart with every one of us.

GirlfriendsSB

Out of the blue, Susan mentioned our little blog, letting me know that she has visited here quietly many times. I was so touched, that it was hard to even soak it all in! Susan’s kind, generous words will remain in my heart forever. Practically speechless, I do remember telling her that she was my inspiration for creating this happy gathering place for kindred spirits. ♡

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The lines at Susan’s book signing events  are always very long… and filled with joy! For it is in these lines, that new friends meet and old friends reunite. Just imagine spending time in line chatting with women who share all the same passions. In line, I met a new friend who just happens to live four blocks from me! We both love teaching, gardening, decorating, and travel. Kindred spirits! Over the years, whenever I passed by her house, I always admired the charming, white picket fence, grapevine wreath, and pretty shutters. It’s so lovely to know that we both find our inspiration from Susan’s books! We are already planning to visit one another’s gardens this summer.

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A friend from Wisconsin met another Girlfriend standing in line, who lives in the same town, very close to her! It’s just amazing to make such wonderful connections while waiting in a booksigning line. Yet we all understand how Susan brings kindred spirits together!

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Of course, there were warm hugs! ♥ Lots of hugs!

Susan&Dawn

I feel so blessed to have met Susan at three different booksigning events over the years. As she signed each book, I told Susan about how that book connected with my life. I told her how the recipes in her books have become part of our family traditions. I shared my tradition of gifting her Love book to each of my friends as bridal shower gifts many years ago, but never bought a copy for myself, since I never planned to be married. At the tea party, a special friend gifted me with a copy of this out-of-print book, and Susan signed it for my husband and I that very day. It felt like a complete circle of love!

HeavenWithin

I told Susan how I used her ribbon bookmark to mark a passage that spoke to my heart in each book. Susan’s books are always filled with the most wonderful, handlettered quotations!  Imagine my surprise, when I shared how this page and quotation in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams was so important to me… and Susan told me that it was also her most cherished quotation! ♥ Kindred spirits!

SusanDawnJoe

Joe joined us for a photo, too!

WonderfulDay

Old friends reunited… and new friends getting to know one another!

Kindred spirits, one and all!

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Heartfelt thanks for coming to visit us, dear Susan and Joe!

Safe travels as you spread happiness from coast to coast!

We are all still smiling and floating on cloud nine!

Kindred spirits are like that!

Hugs from the Heartland!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Do you have a favorite Susan Branch book? Let us know if you have met Susan at a booksigning event. If you write a blog post about it, be sure to share a link with us!

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38 thoughts on “Kindred Spirits…

  1. Good morning, Carol! It was a wonderful day, filled with enough happy memories to last a lifetime! I’m sure that everyone there felt the same way. You can remember just how long I had been waiting for this Afternoon Tea gathering! Thanks so much for sharing my joy today. Sending sunny wishes from my garden to your garden! Happy weekend, Carol! ♡

  2. Hi Dawn! What a beautiful recollection of our wonderful day! I especially have fond memories, seeing that picture of Susan standing outside the door, of how excited you were when you came back to the table after having been Susan’s one-woman welcoming committee! So happy to have been able to share that day with you. (A little embarrassed of how bold I was to give Susan a hug for Angie Tink, like that! Caught up in the moment!) Will always think of that day and you when I see my beautiful sunny flowers bloom in my garden! Love you, my friend. ♡

  3. Good morning, Karen! I tried so hard to capture the emotions of our special day, but it was hard to find the words! It was really fun, though, to relive the whole experience as I wrote about it. Happy tears!! What a remarkable moment of serendipity to peek out the window and see Susan waiting outside. Of course, I wanted to welcome her! It was truly a day for hugs. Hope you shared the photo with Angie! She would love it! Thank you so much for being a very special part of a very special day, dear Karen! This morning, I will add your flowers and herbs to our Friendship Garden. It will be such fun to reread this post often… and reminisce about our wonderful day! Heartfelt thanks for sharing your photos, Karen! So happy that we are kindreds… and friends! Sending big hugs! ♡

  4. Good morning, Jodi! Thanks so much, sweetie! It was a wonderful, wonderful afternoon celebrating Susan with so many kindred spirits! Have you read any Susan Branch books? You would love, love, love them, Jodi! Thanks for being here today! ♡

  5. It’s no wonder that we are kindred spirits, Jodi! What fun to be Girlfriends, too! You will just love Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. It’s so inspiring to read how Susan discovered that she could draw and watercolor. You will feel so many connections to her memoir, Jodi! ♡

  6. Dawn, what a gorgeous post!

    I’m reading “A Fine Romance,” now!
    I’ve always loved Susan, since I was
    a newlywed and rec’d one of her first
    books. Since reading her autobiography
    series, I feel like I know her much more
    now than I did when I met her in 2011. It’s
    so wonderful that she’s absolutely as
    lovely in person as you’d expect. (I’ve
    met other authors where that wasn’t
    the case….)

    Thank you for all of the delightful pictures
    and for sharing your experience, here.
    I so enjoyed it, from beginning to end!

    xo Suzanne

  7. Heartfelt thanks, dear Suzanne! It was hard to even find the words to convey the joy that everyone felt at the Afternoon Tea! I know you understand! Susan has been my inspiration for so long. I was so grateful for another chance to tell her what a difference she has made in my life!

    I remember reading A Fine Romance on our porch swing the very first time. I laughed and cried at Susan and Joe’s amazing journey through the English countryside! Reading her beautiful diary made it feel like we were right there with Susan and Joe on those narrow, winding roads! Be sure to try the recipe for ‘Rachel’s Lemon Butter Cookies’ in A Fine Romance! They are perfect for tea parties!

    Thanks so much for sharing our joy today, dear Suzanne! Have a happy weekend! ♡Dawn Y 🙂

  8. Oh Dawn, what a wonderful day you had! You did a great job describing the event! I could feel the excitement! And doesn’t Susan look great! She is just so cute! I can’t wait for her to get to Texas next month. The first time I met her in Hudson, Ohio she was just absolutely wonderful to each and every one in that line, and then I discovered that Joe is just as sweet! What a lovely match! My granddaughter Annabret then 16, was with me at the Hudson book signing, and I was hoping she would be able to go to the Austin signing, but she has to be in San Antonio that day. She is headed for Seton Hall in NJ this fall and I am so proud of her I could bust! But I am taking Jim and my mom, and Annabret’s mom is meeting us there. So I will have an entourage with me! Lol
    There are several GF’s I am hoping to see at the signing!
    I can’t think of another author who is as loved and cherished by her fans as Susan is. She always says she flies under the radar, but with a NY Times best seller and movie rights I don’t think that will be the case much longer!!
    Thanks for sharing all the pictures Dawn! Wish I could have been there with you!

  9. I thought of you that afternoon, Chris! I still remember the pictures of you and your family at the Hudson, Ohio booksigning! Susan looked so cute, from head to toe, at the tea party! She truly lives a creative life ~ and her quiet, genuine, bubbly personality just sparkles and lights up the whole room!

    So excited that you will be bringing your entourage to Book People, in Austin. (Austin sounds like such a creative place to visit one day. It’s on my list!) Susan will be so delighted to see you again, Chris. One of the best parts of her gatherings is meeting other Girlfriends there. I really wish there had been time to walk around and talk with everyone at the tea party! It filled my heart with joy to spend the afternoon with so many happy kindred spirits!

    We can truly feel the love and kindness that Susan shares with all of her devoted fans! I know how much time she spends on her long, wonderful blog posts. Taking the time to read and respond to the comments that the Girlfriends leave is a true gift from her heart. It’s so wonderful that Susan is feeling the love and success that she has worked so hard to achieve. Reading Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams has shown us just how long and how hard she has worked to make her dreams come true. We are all sharing her joy and excitement! ♥

    I will be thinking of you as you welcome Susan and Joe in Austin! 🙂 Hope you can email some of your favorite photos and memories! I would love to see them. Huge congrats to Annabret!! She is definitely a Fairy Tale Girl following her own big dreams. ♥ It’s no wonder you are such a proud grandma, dear Chris! ♡

  10. Thanks for sharing your lucky day with us! Susan is so adorable! I will finally get to meet her in Austin and so excited! Maybe I will see Chris and her entourage there. 🙂 I just love meeting new girlfriends!

  11. Thank you so much, Lisa! I couldn’t wait to share… but it was so hard to find the perfect words. I’m so excited for you to meet Susan in Austin! I know that you will feel the happy, positive energy of a gathering of kindred spirits. Meeting new Girlfriends is one of the sweetest things. I think you will be smiling for days afterward!

    As I follow Susan’s book tour on social media, it makes me so happy to think of all of the Girlfriends gathered in each city. I know just how happy the Girlfriends are feeling in Denver now… and how happy you will feel in Austin, too! We each brought several books for Susan to sign. She was so very gracious and loves getting to know her readers. The very first time I met Susan, I was so excited I could barely breathe! Now I am much more talkative because I really want to share what is in my heart with Susan! She is such a gift to us all! So excited for you, Lisa! Thank you so much for visiting today and being a special part of the conversation here! ♡

  12. Hello dear Dawn! I was directed to your lovely blog by Karen P & I’m so glad I found it! What a wonderful description of your emotions and experiences at this lovely book signing event. Susan is the most wonderful person, and you really captured the excitement and the way she brings people together and creates new friendships wherever she goes! She has an incredible gift. By the way, I’m the Rachel of Lemon Butter Cookie fame! Thanks for your kind comments, I’m so glad you like them. I am so proud to feature in A Fine Romance…but most of all, to be Susan’s friend! Have a great weekend! 💕

  13. Oh, Rachel! It’s so wonderful to meet you here! My original title for this post was actually ‘Susan’s Gifts’… She gives so much to her family, friends, her fans, and the world!

    The very first time that I met Susan, on her Fine Romance tour, I asked a question from the audience about how Susan and you met. She shared the wonderful story with all of us that evening! 🙂 I have a dear friendship with a very special friend in Germany. Our friendship grew in the same ways, and we treasure all of the times we are together, here or there, over the past 38 years. We are sisters of the heart, very much like you and Susan! It was so different to keep in touch in the early days, wasn’t it? But those early cards and letters that we waited weeks for are such treasures. Now, a click of the mouse brings faraway friends together in an instant! So, Rachel, I feel a special kindred feeling toward you.♥

    We love your Lemon Butter Cookies!! They are so unique! I have served them at tea parties, and always try to explain how your special recipe made it all the way Across The Pond to my little kitchen in the Midwest. 🙂 I know that you are planning some very special times with with Susan and Joe soon! New treasured moments and adventures are just around the corner! I’m so happy for all of you!!

    In another bit of serendipity, I just visited your blog a few hours earlier this morning. Your beautifully written, very poignant words brought tears to my eyes, dear Rachel. Heartfelt thanks for sharing your heart with us. You are helping so many people. ♥ Sending warmest hugs all the way to your heart, from my heart.

    Thank you so much for visiting today, Rachel, and being a special part of the conversation here! Kindred spirits! Happy baking! ♡

  14. Oh Dear Dawn, You have described a joy filled day with our dear girlfriend, Susan Branch. You are so spot on in your description of an exceptional woman. What a beautiful venue to have tea and share with all of the girlfriends. How wonderful that Susan had you as the welcoming girlfriend! I’m so happy you saw her through the window! How nice it is that you have visited with her three times. And to meet all of the kindred spirits gives me goosebumps. I’m sure you are still basking in the glow of such a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing in detail to us that have never met her. As you know, it is my dream to meet her and you one day! ♥ thejoyofhomewithmarthaellen.blogspot.com

  15. Just in time for tea, Martha Ellen! It really was a joyful event, and I think that Susan had fun, too. ♥ Her sweet, engaging, bubbly nature warmed everyone’s heart. I had just gone into the lobby to check the guest list for the arrival of another Girlfriend I was hoping to meet (since didn’t know what she looked like). As I peeked out the windows near the front door, I noticed Susan standing there. She was waiting while Joe parked the Fine Romance van. So, without thinking, I just went out to say “Welcome! We’re so happy you came to visit us!” 🙂 Pure serendipity! What a joy to spend a few quiet moments talking outside! The happy, positive chatter among the Girlfriends during tea was delightful. It’s so nice that we have so many shared passions. Waiting in line to meet Susan and have our books signed gives us time to get to know one another. It really feels like a Girlfriend celebration!

    I know that one day soon, you will be the one visiting with Susan and sharing the experience with everyone! (I can just hear you telling her all about your own Fine Romance trip aboard the Queen Mary 2, and exploring the English countryside last Spring.♥) I share our dream of meeting one another, dear Martha Ellen! We must make it happen in the near future! ♥ Sending sunny wishes for a very nice weekend!♡

  16. Lovely, lovely post, Dawn. I was hoping you would share your time with Susan Branch and that there might be some photos – and here they all are. 🙂 You certainly carry the spirit of the day and certainly of Susan with you, Dawn, and it is sweet that you share it with all the kindred spirits out here in blogland. Thank you.

  17. What a sweet thing to say, dear Penny! ♥ It was a day that I will always cherish ~ set in a lovely place, in honor of someone I truly admire, and surrounded by so many gracious kindred spirits! As an avid reader, I know you would have enjoyed the whole experience, too! I hope you have a chance to read Susan’s memoir, Penny. It will take you back to our early years, growing up as women’s roles in society were rapidly changing. I know you would enjoy it! Enjoying Susan’s books for the past thirty years, has truly made Susan Branch one of my inspirations for living happy, positive days, finding joy in the small moments, making a difference, and exploring creativity along the way! What wonderful gifts she shares with kindred spirits everywhere! Enjoy our sunny weekend, Penny! ♡

  18. I just returned from a week in Cambria, on California’s central coast, to celebrate my Mom’s 95th birthday. While there, I read Susan Branch’s latest book. She even mentions Cambria, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo. All of which we had enjoyed on this trip. What a coincidence! Kindred spirits abound!

  19. Welcome home, Anne! You found a perfect place to read Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams! Susan is heading out to California for some booksigning events, too. I’m so happy that you and your mom were able to celebrate her special day in such special places! Hugs for both of you! ♡

  20. Oh how fun to go to a book Signing with Susan Branch! I think I have all her books and just finished Isle Of Dreams last night in fact. Rhubarb Crisp is on the menu today here at Chestnut Hill- gloomy day but planting pots for outside and yummy kitchen smells make it all that much better! Thanks for the Virtual tour of a book signing – such a treat!

  21. Welcome, Carol! How lovely to meet a new Girlfriend! I connected with Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams in so many ways! As I read, I remembered so many small moments in my own life. It’s truly a treasure that I will read again and again! Rhubarb Crisp and planting pots of flowers will add sunshine to a gloomy day. I’m looking forward to planting pots of flowers for our front porch today, too! Our nighttime temperatures have finally warmed up. So, it’s a perfect day for planting! Thanks so much for stopping to visit and joining in the conversation, Carol! Kindred spirits!

  22. Dawn,
    What a wonderful experience. You must feel like old friends with Susan since you’ve had tea with her 3 times. I think she is one of those rare people that make everyone feel like a good friend! I love her books and her blog.
    xo,
    Karen

  23. Hi, Karen! Susan really does make everyone feel like a good friend! In her three-volume memoir, Susan shares just how important her girlfriends have been throughout her entire life. Now we also have all of her blog Girlfriends, too. (I think you and I first met on Susan’s blog.) Susan always gathers the sweetest kindred spirits ~ in person and on her blog. She has been such an inspiration (and blessing!) throughout half of my life. Imagine that! I feel beyond grateful to have visited with Susan and Joe three times ~ first at a little bookstore, then two wonderful tea parties in her honor. It’s such a gift to meet the people who inspire us in life! Thank you so much for stopping to visit today, Karen! You are such a special part of our little blog! 🙂 ♡

  24. Hi, Karen! That’s so true! Every time I think about our Afternoon Tea or look at the photos, my heart just leaps with happy memories. Susan designed us all name tags that said ‘Fairy Tale Girl.’ That’s just how everyone felt as kindred spirits gathered together for this delightful event! 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping to visit today, Karen! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend! ♡

  25. That looks like an experience I would cherish for a lifetime but I’m on the wrong coast. Looking forward to her fabric line coming out. Love all the photos that made me wish I was there. 🙂

  26. Hi, Marlene! After the tea party in Wilmette, Susan tweeted, “Truly one of the nicest afternoons of my life!” We all feel the very same way! I’m so happy that I could share this special afternoon with everyone with my photos and memories. You can find Susan Branch fabrics online at Spoonflower.com. 🙂 New designs will continuously be added to her fabric collection there. Happy stitching, Marlene! ♡

  27. Dawn, what a wonderful, made-to-order, kind of day. I’m so happy for you. Thanks to you, I’m now reading her books. I have Martha’s Vineyard, but no time just now to indulge. I hope so soon. And fabric! Be still my heart.

    I loved all your photos and the joy you’ve infused here. What a special day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing my joy, Alys! It was such a magical day ~ one that I will always cherish! I’m so happy for all of the lucky Girlfriends who will meet Susan on this book tour. She is in California right now. I’m thrilled that you are reading Susan’s books, Alys! I know you will love, love, love them all. Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams is one of my all-time favorite books. I felt such a strong connection to buying a little house on her own and lovingly turning it into her Home Sweet Home. 🙂 I never thought that I could admire Susan more, but after reading her memoir trilogy, I am so impressed by how hard Susan worked to develop her creative talents. What an inspiring, personal story to share with all of us! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts after you finish reading Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, Alys! ♡

  29. I enjoyed reading this so much! I have loved her books and cookbooks since the 80’s. What a lovely treat you had!!! Your photos tell a beautiful story! XOXO

  30. Oh, Wanda! I’m so happy to discover that we have this amazing connection… beyond our papercrafting studios!!💕Susan has also been my inspiration for the past thirty years. Isle of Dreams will truly touch your creative heart forever! Definitely move this book to the top of your Summer reading stack! There are several posts about Susan on my blog. So, be sure to take a peek! Thanks so much for stopping to visit today. It’s wonderful to know that we are kindred spirits, too! 💗

  31. Ok, 8 months later…!! Finally catching up on some long-saved emails. This is such a charming post. It’s through Susan Branch that we first connected with each other’s blogs (although mine is no longer active.) Certain people have a way of sending connecting threads all throughout the world. I’m so glad you had this wonderful opportunity!

  32. So happy that you are back again, Ericka! 🙂 I remember finding you through Susan’s blog. That exciting day that we gathered for Afternoon Tea, in May, is one that I will always treasure! I have so many special memories of our afternoon with Susan and Joe, cherished time with old friends, and meeting new friends. Susan has the most wonderful way of bringing kindred spirits together, no matter where we live in the world. She is a blessing in all of our lives! ♥ Thanks so much for visiting today, Ericka! Wishing you and your family a wonderful year ahead! ♡

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