Happy Martha’s Vineyard Week to you! No, I’m afraid we are not actually on the island (sigh…) BUT you and I are going to take a virtual trip there starting today. How about that?! Of course I have to give you some background info on why we are going there. I can’t exactly remember when my love for the island started. It was probably in my teens..those summer days in the library. I discovered magazines and books that featured beautiful homes on the Vineyard, and I was totally smitten.
And then later, in 1986 – when I had been married barely a year, my husband and I were traveling in North Carolina. In some little shop in Maggie Valley I discovered a book that deepened that affection for the island…Susan Branch’s Heart of the Home, Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen. I had grown up with Holly Hobbie and Betsey Clark art (even “wallpapering” one wall in my bedroom with Betsey Clark gift wrap!) and I loved hand lettering. It was no wonder I loved the precious watercolors in Heart of the Home.
(All book are linked to my Amazon affliate link.)
If you are familiar with Susan Branch’s books, you know this was the first of many that are filled with handwritten recipes, wonderful illustrations, clever quotes, and other tidbits from her life on Martha’s Vineyard. Her books are truly works of art. Two years later, I was charmed by Vineyard Seasons.
And then two years later came the fabulous holiday book, Christmas from the Heart of the Home.
(You know this lover of all-things-Christmas couldn’t resist that book!) With each book, I wanted to be on the island of Martha’s Vineyard more and more.
If you remember my first post on Jan Karon’s Mitford books, then you know I kind of go all out when I love something. One is never enough. (Case in point – all the black and white photography in our house here.) Anyway, I loved loved loved all the pages in Susan Branch’s books, and I sort of….um…went all out with them as well. I want to show you how “all out” I went, but to explain it I am going to have to show you some very old and some very bad photography (when I had a little Kodak instamatic and knew absolutely nothing about taking pictures.) So please forgive the quality here. Okay?
Alright, we were living in this house, our second home – the first one we built. (This floorplan if you are interested.)
I bought a couple of copies of Susan’s books, and then I began to cut out the pages. (Oh yes I did.) I matted them, framed them, and hung them everywhere in our home..and I do mean everywhere.
Up the staircase…
(of course it would be a Christmas photo.)
Over the desk…
(That’s the desk that is now on the porch. )
Over the old piano in the hallway…
In the kitchen…
(You knew there had to red gingham somewhere, right?Oh and that is Mary Engelbreit cherry wallpaper…daughter’s nursery was done in the cherry fabric. )
A set of 6 in the red red dining room…
And 4 in the laundry room.
Oh how I wish I had that room in this house! (Our laundry “room” is a closet – seriously.)
I guess you can tell now I really liked her work. So in 2001, when I spotted this magazine in the bookstore, you better believe I scooped it up!
And I have saved it ever since. (I saved it to show you! I knew we would be talking about houses, and I wanted to show you Susan Branch’s home on Martha’s Vineyard.)
You can see here in her dining room, she collects vintage china and glassware…
and old linens.
Several years ago, she designed a line of fabrics. You can see some of it by the chairs in her living room. (There is a gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard red toile available here and a wonderful article in which she talks about quilting here.)
There are several antique pieces in her very comfortable living room.
And that is all from my saved magazine. So now let me share with you a little more about her home from some other sources. Isn’t the exterior just beautiful?! Built in 1849 by a whaling captain, the home is located in Vineyard Haven.
Here is a guestroom decorated for Christmas. It is accessed by a stairway next to her kitchen.
And this is her cozy kitchen. The old stove there is a reconditioned 1958 O’Keefe and Merritt stove. She wanted one identical to the one in the California home she grew up in. So she found a dealer of reconditioned appliances and they shipped it to her on the island.
She also has a kitchen garden where she grows herbs and mostly salad things – with a few occasional watermelons and pumpkins for fun.
Country Living magazine did a feature on fall entertaining with Susan several years ago. You can read it here.
And here she is working in her studio. She grew up in California, one of 8 children. She was married for 4 years but then suffered a heartbreaking divorce. That heartbreak was what sent Susan to Martha’s Vineyard to start a new life – and what a new life she built there!
She bought a little house, made some new friends, got a job in a gourmet shop, and she practiced painting. At the urging of a dear friend, she began to make a cookbook – a hand lettered recipe collection with her charming watercolors, quotes about home, and writings about her life on Martha’s Vineyard.
Recipes like this…
And artwork like this…
She fell in love with Joe Hall, then owner of The Black Dog Tavern.
(He has a cookbook too!)
And Susan has written over 14 books.
(I can’t figure out exactly how many so let’s stick with “over 14.”)
Cape Cod Life
She also has a wonderful wonderful blog here (that I don’t want to tell you about because you will love it so much you will never return here!) And a fabulous newsletter called Willard (in honor of her grandfather) with her signature artwork and fun writing. You should sign up for it here!
A couple of years ago, she and Joe traveled to England, and Susan turned her journals and photographs from the trip into a best selling book, A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside.
And then they traveled all over the U.S. in a decorated van promoting the book in a book tour. Now Susan has a new one coming out in August! (My birthday month!) It is again a compilation of her journals, photographs, and art – but this time from her life when she was in her twenties.
And I am pre-ordering a signed (hopefully!) copy for my giveaway to one of you dear readers! It will arrive in August, but the other parts of the giveaway will arrive before then. And what are those “other parts” you ask? Let’s see..two of my favorite books that Susan Branch has written…Girlfriends Forever and my most favorite, The Summer Book. (I can’t even count how many copies of The Summer Book I have given as end of the year gifts to my children’s teachers!) You will love both books with their gorgeous artwork, recipes, and stories! And I am also throwing in a $25 Amazon gift card so that you can order another book by Susan or perhaps Joe’s cookbook (or whatever you would like.)
None of this is sponsored. (Although I do want to thank Susan for allowing me to use some of her images in this post.)The giveaway is just because I wanted you to enjoy a little taste of Martha’s Vineyard this summer. So how do you enter? Just leave a comment on talkofthehouse.com (not on your email delivered post) on any or all of the posts that publish between 7/13/2015 (today) and midnight on Sunday 7/19/2015…only one comment per post please. That’s all. I’ll do a random drawing from all the names and announce the winner in the next post after Sunday.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing Susan Branch’s home on the island and some of her work today. Be sure you come back for another visit here this week for more places from Martha’s Vineyard (and more chances to enter for the giveaway!)
Until next time…