Monday, September 9, 2013

Making Dreams Come True, Visiting Michigan and Meeting Susan Branch & Joe, too!

This past weekend, I experienced something wonderful!  I finally got to meet the lovely Susan Branch, my favorite author, at a book signing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Susan is currently on a cross-country book tour, travelling through various states, promoting her latest book, A Fine Romance - Falling in Love with the English Countryside.

"Susan Branch is a favorite author of mine. Her books are treasured keepsakes in my library and this latest book, A Fine Romance, is no exception. Candidly written in diary-fashion, this book is a must-read; weather you've visited England before or are planning to visit again. If you aren't planning to visit, Susan may just change your mind! Take a vicarious journey across the Atlantic (on the Queen Mary 2), to the romantic English countryside and follow Susan along the way to the loveliest and dreamiest of places. This book is ever so charming and full to the brim with love and inspiration! I found myself reading it slowly, savoring every page so I could make it last. A gem of a book!" my review on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


I have been a fan of Susan and her books since I first laid eyes on Sweets to the Sweet.  It was the very first Susan Branch book I found here in Canada; at a book sale, fifteen years ago.  It was then that I learned of her website: www.susanbranch.com and visited it regularly. When she opened a twitter account back in 2009, I opened an account too, just so I could follow her!  Shortly thereafter, Susan started following me too, and we've been twitter girlfriends ever since!  I have to add that many other kindred friendships have developed with fellow Susan Branch girlfriends online and offline, too!

When I heard that Susan would be making several stops across the United States to promote her latest book, I knew I had to make it out to one of them.  I went through the list of tour dates and found that the book signing event on Saturday, September 7th, in Grand Rapids, Michigan would be the closest stop to my home - a six hour drive through Ontario, across the border and into the state of Michigan.
My darling husband agreed to make the drive there so that I could finally meet Susan in person.  He is such a doll!  After all, it would be fun to visit a new state and squeeze in one more family road trip before the official end of summer.

Come! I'll tell you all about it!

Friday, September 6th


 All packed and ready to hit the road with my favorite polka-dot luggage, shoes, purse, A Fine Romance book, and our personalized name tags!



We left home at about ten-thirty in the morning and stopped over for a quick bite and a stretch at lunch hour.  We got back on the road and arrived at the Canada/USA border in Sarnia, Ontario by three in the afternoon.

Here we are driving across the Blue Water Bridge from Sarnia, Ontario into the state of Michigan.
It was a perfect day for a road trip - sunshine and blue skies all the way there!  We had a gorgeous view of the St. Clair river to either side of us.  If only there was somewhere to stop for a picture!

We arrived at our hotel, The Country Inn & Suites, in Grand Rapids, Michigan by 6:30 that evening.  The entrance was so charming. There was a cozy seating area by the fireplace near the reception. We checked in with the friendly staff (the woman who checked us in had actually visited our city of Barrie a few years ago).  What a small world! We dropped off our luggage in our room and went to find some dinner.  The girls wanted to go to Cracker Barrel (we don't have Cracker Barrel here in Canada), so we drove twenty minutes to the nearest location.  After our tummies were full, we returned to the hotel to get some rest and a good night's sleep.  I counted down, "Only one more sleep till I meet Susan!". 


Saturday, September 7th

We got up early and went downstairs for coffee and hot breakfast (which was included) in the breakfast room.  I cannot say enough about the friendly service this hotel provided. The hotel was clean, comfortable, spacious, and affordable. Free parking, free wi-fi and free breakfast! No wonder it was rated by Trip Advisor as one of the best places to stay in Grand Rapids!

The book signing was at 11 am.  We had some free time before then, so we checked out of our hotel and  hit downtown Grand Rapids to squeeze in a little sight-seeing.  Here are some of the wonderful things we saw there...


View of the Grand River and the pedestrian Blue Bridge; newly renovated and freshly painted this past summer.


This is another view of Grand River and one of its many bridges.  I am not certain, but I believe this one is the Pearl Street Bridge.  


This bronze sculpture of Rosa Louise Parks standing in front of a bus seat (sculptor, Ed Dwight, unveiled in 2010) was an unexpected surprise for me!  I was overjoyed when I came across it accidentally while walking around the downtown streets.  As most of you know, Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus back in 1955.  Because of her heroic action, she was the ultimate cause for a national movement to end legal segregation!  


And yet another surprise!  A Kilwin's ice cream shop just a few steps away.  Do you remember I discovered my first Kilwin's on our visit to St. Augustine, Florida this past June?  And here I found another one!  This was just too much excitement for one day!  The shop was still closed and it was too early for ice cream, but we knew we had to come back; we just had to! 


I was so taken by this beautiful city and its dedication to the historic preservation of the buildings.

This is the Flat Iron Building, Grand Rapids' oldest commercial building. It recently underwent extensive exterior and interior renovations to restore and preserve it.


This is the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, refurbished and reopened in 1981.  The original hotel, The Pantlind, opened in 1913.  This is just another example of the gorgeous buildings you will find in the downtown area.



This is St. Mark's Episcopal Church in downtown Grand Rapids (completed in 1849).
It was built with limestone taken from the Grand River!  The two towers were added in 1851.  Isn't it gorgeous?




Unfortunately, I didn't get the name of this adorable vintage/antique shop.  I had fun window shopping, though.   It was still closed, as were most stores and businesses at that time.  If it had been open, I would have loved to take a peek inside!

Oh, look at the time!  It's just after ten.  Maybe we should head over to Schuler Books now.  We don't want to be late!


My goodness!  I was expecting to find a tiny, little bookstore.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw this huge building!


Here I am standing in front of the display of  Susan's books, waiting patiently for 11:00 am and Susan's arrival!


It's 11:00 and here comes Susan and her sweetie, Joe!



You can hear girlfriends cheering and applauding as Susan enters the room.  She brought along with her a Union Jack bunting to drape across the table, a vase of fresh flowers (do I see some rosemary in there?), her personalized Emma Bridgewater Susan and Joe mug (filled with pens and bookmarks), and last but certainly not least, Petey, the little sailor doll!



There was some book talk and a question and answer period.  At one point, Susan saw me standing there and said "Hello Rosinda!".  I waved and said hello.  She told the others, "She's a twitter girlfriend".  I smiled shyly, at the attention brought on to me.  After everyone's questions and comments were addressed, the book signing began.  Girlfriends lined up in numerical order, according to their ticket number, to greet Susan, one by one.  You could hear chatting, cameras clicking, laughter, hugs,and stories being told.  I stood by and  watched Susan for a while.  Time seemed to stand still.  I was just so happy.  I was here.  I could hardly believe it! I was about to meet Susan, this woman who's been an inspiration for me for so many years; one of the most influential women in my life, aside from my mother, of course.


My girls and I stood in line.  Our ticket numbers were 28, 29, and 30.  I was almost there; feeling more and more excited and more and more nervous, the closer I got to the front.

And then, it was my turn!


We met with a great, big hug!  Notice Anita's expression as she sees us.  She knows how much this encounter means to me.  


We chatted for a little bit.  



She signed my book...and the girls' books too.  She gave Anita, my oldest daughter, some wonderful advice.  She said "Stay twelve forever.  It's the best age to be!".  Nuno came up to greet Susan, as well.


We posed for pictures

and then we had to say so long.  There were many more girlfriends waiting in line to see Susan.

We went over to where Joe was standing and I asked him if he could sign my book, too.  He did! AND he signed the girls' books too! He was just so sweet and darling. It was a dream come true to have met Susan, and meeting Joe, too, was the icing on the cake!  What a lovely, darling couple.  And how fitting to have met Joe, too!  After all, he's the other half of A Fine Romance! 


We left the book store and walked out into the parking lot hoping to find the Fine Romance van and guess who showed up?  It was Joe!  He had his camera with him and asked if he could take a photo of us. 

Of course!  And here it is...

Joe then brought around the Fine Romance van closer to the entrance of the book store, so all the girlfriends could see it.


Joe is right inside, behind the wheel, finding a "proper" spot to park it.


And here I am, standing right next to it!

It was time to go.  We went to have lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Nuno and I ordered a glass of wine with our meal to celebrate this most joyful, unforgettable day.  After lunch, we headed back to Kilwin's for dessert.  I had the toasted coconut ice cream on a sugar cone...my favorite!  It was delicious!

Just after three in the afternoon, we headed back toward home.  Annabel read the first thirty pages of Susan's book on the way home! We crossed the border back into Canada and arrived home sweet home just before ten.  Perfect!

What a wonderful, magical day we had!  Meeting Susan was a dream come true for me. I am so glad that my girls got to meet her, too.  I am especially thankful for my darling husband, Nuno.  Without him, this trip would not have been possible.  He is always there for me, willing to do whatever it takes to make my dreams come true.


"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.  If you can dream it, you can become it." - William Arthur Ward





38 comments:

  1. Your sweet comment about Nuno brought a tear of joy to my eye...you have a precious family, Rosinda...What a memorable time and forever moment to meet sweet Susan!! and her lovely, Joe...thank you for sharing your pics and taking me along..xo

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura. I am truly blessed. Your comments are always appreciated. xoxo

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  2. I love this journey that you've shared, Rosinda! The pictures of Grand Rapids are beautiful! I LOVE that church and the other architecture is simply beautiful. And there you and your family are with Susan! I'm sure Susan was as excited to meet you as you were to meet her! Wonderful memories that you experienced as a family! That Nuno....he's a doll! xo

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    1. Thank you, dear Karen. Susan was a total sweetheart and I am so lucky to have been able to make it out to see her. Soon, it will be your turn! I am so excited for you!! xoxo

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  3. This is the cutest thing ever because I know just how you feel!!!!!!!!!!!! I met her a couple of years ago and it was a thrill. I felt like I met a sister I hadn't seen in awhile....

    She's just a doll; she really is. And Joe? What a sweetie........I'm so happy he signed your books as well!!

    What a treat.........Nuno is such a good man Rosinda....like my darling Rod; they make our lives complete.

    I am so happy for you!!!!!!!!

    xoxo

    Joann

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    1. Thank you, sweetie! We are equally blessed with our darling men. Rod is such a sweetheart, also. What would we do without their love and support? Thank you for sharing in my joy! xoxo

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  4. Rosinda! I Love Love Love Your Blog! & This Post Especially! Thank You For Sharing Your Amazing Adventure with Us! All Your Wonderful Photos Are Sweet Enchantment! You Made Me Feel Like I Was Along on Your Trip! Your Family is Beautiful! I Know You've Been Twirling With Pure Joy Rosinda! xoxo Poof! ♥*¨✫*¸.♥*¨`.✫♥*¨✫*¸.♥*¨`.✫ ♥*¨✫*¸.♥*"" P.S. I Adore How Happy Our Sweet Sue Is When She Meets one of "US" Susan Branch Lights Up! Very Magical Indeed! ♥

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments, Angie! I am still twirling on air this morning. The day I met Sue, was a magical, pixie-dust kind of day! xoxo Poof!

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  5. Honey it really was a great weekend. It was great to se how happy you were to meet Susan, and I now know what you've been talking about for so long, Susan really is a sweetie, and I'm proud to sometimes be called "My Joe" as he is quite the charming gentlemen, it was a pleasure to have met them both. I do have to say though, that the scream of joy and fist pumping that came out of you when you laid your eyes on the Kilwins ice cream shop will FOREVER be engraved in my mind, the cutest thing ever. lol.
    Loved this post.
    Love YOU the most.
    Nuno

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    1. Thank you for your comments, your love, and your constant support. You are my everything. I love you!

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  6. Rosinda you are one lucky lady to have met Susan! I too have followed SB forever and admire her greatly. A Fine Romance is written and illustrated so sweetly. I wish Susan were coming to a town near me. Thank you so much for sharing your special visit. ♥ Martha Ellen aka boogarden on twitter

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    1. Hello Martha Ellen! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving me a comment. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you...hopefully Susan comes to a town near you very soon! xo

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  7. Rosinda! You did it! Your whole family did it! The JOY of the connection is over the moon, beyond belief! Thank you for sharing all about it. I feel as though I'm reaching through the screen and giving you a great big hug!

    Nuno! You and my Joe are now kindred spirits! He drove me all the way to MV to fulfill my dream of meeting Susan. Once we arrived, he realized just how much the journey meant to me.

    You both have such a beautiful family!
    xoxo Georgie

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    1. Thank you so much, Georgie! You know exactly how I feel, don't you? We are so blessed to have such wonderful men to love and support us! Thank you for being there and sharing my joy! xoxo

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  8. Rosinda, I've only just found your blog, but have 'followed' you and many of the other 'girlfriends' via your tweets to & from Susan. While I don't tweet myself, it is such fun to see what's taking place amongst you! I almost feel as though I know you, Angie Tink, Georgie, Erin, and of course Rachel. I'm so happy to see your dream come true with your lovely family sharing your dream. I know firsthand how it feels; in 2000 my husband made my dream come true by adding a trip to QVC studios in Pennsylvania while on vacation from Kentucky to Massachusetts. Susan was such a sweetheart, and I treasure my signed books and photos with her. I was a fan beforehand, but a devoted girlfriend ever since. I will be to-the-moon-and-back-thrilled if she books a signing near me. Maybe this time I'll get to meet Joe, too!

    Thanks so much for sharing,
    Sharon in Alabama

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    1. Hello Sharon! It's so lovely to "meet" you! Thank you for visiting my blog and for telling me a little bit about yourself. I'm glad your husband helped your dream came alive for you as well. Hopefully, Susan will make a stop near you soon. You will love meeting Joe, I just know it! xo

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  9. Ahh what a sweet story. I'm so happy for you that you got to go on this adventure and to enjoy your meeting so much. It really looks wonderful. ♥

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    1. Thanks for sharing in my joy, Nancy! It really was wonderful! xoxo

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  10. Hi darling! What can I say? I had tears & chills as I read this wonderful post! I so loved seeing some of my very favourite people all together!! What a fabulous weekend. Great to have a look round Grand Rapids with you, too. A real dream came true...I'm sure that Susan felt the same way! As for Nuno...well, I've been lucky enough to meet him, and he truly is a honey. You all fit together so perfectly, Antunes family! Love you xoxo

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    1. Hello sweetie, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. It really was a dream come true. Susan and I spoke of you! Thank you for your sweet comments. You are such a dear! Love you, too! xoxo

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  11. Rosinda~so happy to have found your blog! Well, I love your polka dot suitcase {what else can I say, I do love it!} and I was reading along just fine totally ejoying travelling with you as you journeyed across the border with all the lovely photographs and interesting snippets~like I said, reading along just fine until I got to the bit where you met Susan and then the tears just welled up and spilled~Happy Tears, of course! So many happy memories for you of this very special day, and heartfelt gratitude from lil'ol' me Across The Pond for sharing them with us.
    Now all I have to do is make some time to read back on your blog, for you write so beautifully!
    Debs xoxo
    {ShireGardener on Twitter}

    p.s. I think you have a wonderful husband too, for I cannot think of any who would go along. What a gem, you must treasure him dearly.

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    1. Hello Deborah! I'm so glad you stopped in! How lovely to have another friend visiting from across the pond! Thank you for your sweet comments. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! You're right. My hubby IS a gem. I am truly blessed. xoxo

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  12. My dear Rosinda,my Sunshine :)
    I don't know from where to start..
    I loved everything you wrote, all the pictures and the smiles and the happiness you all shared!!!
    I'm so lucky to have you and so proud to be your MOM :)Your dad and I, really did a good job bringing you into this world!!!
    In you I have a daughter, and best friend <3
    I'm also so very lucky to have Nuno, my wonderful Son-in Law. He's adding all the happiness and helping you realize your dreams.
    And I thank God everyday for the BEST gift of a life time ( MY BEAUTIFUL GRANDAUGHTERS )
    Keep up the good work! May God Bless you all!!!
    XOXOXO

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    1. What a WONDERFUL post!! Lucky Mom and daughter!! And granddaughters and son-in-law!

      Elise

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    2. Thank you for your beautiful words, Mom! WE are so lucky to have YOU. You are always there for us, supporting us, and cheering us on every step of the way. You are so loved. We are all so blessed. Love you dearly! xoxo

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    3. Thank you so much for stopping in and leaving a comment, Elise! We are all very blessed. xoxo

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  13. Rosinda, I'm so glad I clicked on your Twitter account which led me to your Blog. I Follow Susan, too, and love that I was able to visit with her through your photos and words. Thank you! I also loved reading your husband's and your mother's comments. You have a lovely family!

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    1. Hello Cathy! I am so glad you stopped by my blog! Thank you for your sweet comments. I really appreciate it and hope to see you here more often! xo

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  14. I'm writing this from the car, so I'll keep it short in case it doesn't go through. My comments have a penchant for vanishing into mid-air! I just wanted to let you know how happy I am to read about you and Sue meeting and to see the pictures. I love them all, but the one of you two hugging and Anita looking on with that smile on her face is my favorite. Thanks for sharing all of this, sweetie. I feel like my heart was right there with you. Love you ... xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments, sweetie! The photo of me hugging Susan is also a favorite of mine. I just love the look on Anita's face. She KNOWS how special this meeting was for me. Love you, too! xoxo

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  15. Nuno's comments above were the sweetest thing I've ever seen. YOU two have a Fine Romance! :) I still haven't met Susan but I would absolutely love to. For now, I'll just live vicariously through you! Thanks for sharing all the details and photos! How sweet that your daughters are loving the books too....I started young as well! :)

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    1. Aww, thank you Cadie!! How sweet of you to say that! I hope that one day you get to meet Susan, too. She is darling! xoxo

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  16. Finally back to my house and a real computer. LOVE you, Rosinda! What a perfect day. Sunshine, blue skies, meeting a "new" old friend, and ice cream--all shared with the people you love best. Perfection. The miracle of Susan is that she is kind to everyone. What longs days she is having. I know she was thrilled to meet you and your family. When I talked to Joe, he said, "Oh, you know Rosinda then? I just met her, and her husband, Nuno, and her daughters Annabel and Anita!" He remembered you ALL--and how lovely YOU are. xoxo

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  17. Aww, I love you, too JoEllen! Susan and Joe are sweethearts. I can't believe Joe still remembered our names! Thank you for sharing that with me! I hope you had lots of fun at the book signing. I'm sure it was a special day for you too. Just one problem...never enough time...right? Love and hugs! xoxo

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  18. Hi Rosinda,
    I just found my way to your blog for the first time. It was so lovely to read about your whole family meeting Susan! I could just feel your anticipation, excitement, and love!! I know that she was so touched that you made the long trip to Michigan. Susan is such a blessing in so many of our lives. Just days later, I was so fortunate to meet Susan twice, at a book store and at a tea party, as she visited the Chicago area. She is making dreams-come-true everywhere she travels!
    Thank you so much, Rosinda, for sharing all of your special moments with us! Dreams do come true!
    Love,
    Dawn
    ♡♡

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    1. Hello Dawn! I'm so glad you found my blog and enjoyed reading about our meeting with Susan. How wonderful that you were able to meet her, too! Susan is an inspiration to so many. I feel blessed to have met her in person. Thank you so much for stopping in and taking the time to leave a comment. You are so right! Dreams do come true! xo

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  19. Rosinda, I finally looked at your blog, which has been a real treat. Your photos, recipes and stories are wonderful. When I see you via Instagram on my phone, the photos are pretty small - I need to see all your photos on my laptop!
    I am also a Susan Branch fan. She is such a talented artist. I don't know why I haven't bought the Fine Romance book yet! I just loved your story about meeting her, including all the photos.
    Happy Holidays, Garci (chandlerguera on Instagram)

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    1. How wonderful it is to find you here, Garci! Thank you for visiting! Your comments make me very happy. You must get your hands on "A Fine Romance"! It's a beautiful book and an absolute treasure! Happy holidays to you, too. Visit again soon! xoxo

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