I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

The Place Where Dreams Come True | Iowa 2015

Hello hello dear friends!

I hope spring has been treating you right, and that in between the frosts and chilly weather you’ve gotten to see some flowers bloom and enjoy some Minnesota bonfires (those are the best, right?)

I’m still on some sort of high from this past weekend, a weekend I don’t think I could ever forget (plus, it’s all written down in my little diary so I KNOW I won’t forget). It all started about two years ago when I was visiting my mom and dad. I was just about to leave their house when I noticed the most adorable book with the words “English Countryside” on it. (This was just after I started drinking tea so I was a newly claimed anglophile.) I opened it at a random page, saw the most beautiful watercolorings and quotes, and then was told by my mom that this was an author who hand-writes and paints all of her books! What?! I had never heard of such a person!! (Only weeks before, according to my diary, I had just bought my own watercolor set and stated that someday I would write my own book using my own hand-writing and illustrations – I should have known it was fate stepping in.) Mom let me borrow the book and that afternoon, with my pot of tea, I became totally immersed in this new found life of Susan Branch, her love Joe, and their trip through the English Countryside. After finishing the book in just a few hours (it was soooooooogood!!), I wanted to know everything about her. She spoke to me through her book, her quotes, her drawings, and I knew that I had found someone special.

Basically, this lady is my heroine, my inspiration. And really, finding her at the time that I did (thanks mom :)), was fate, I really think. At the time of discovering her, I was in the middle of battling a tough decision. For years I thought I would have lots of children. Being a stay-at-home-mom was my dream job! But life doesn’t always go as planned and sometimes it’s your own mind and heart that can alter life plans, not just mother nature. For me, it was both. After having multiple surgeries in just a couple of years, it became clearer that having children was going to be very unlikely. And at the same time of figuring that out, my mind and heart were both changing too. I was terrified – was I a horrible person for not wanting children?? Wasn’t that my womanly instincts?? Oh gosh friends, if I could tell you the amount of times I battled with my mind…’twas a rough patch of my life. However, long story short, the decision was made and I had to have a pretty big surgery last March and now I am unable to have children. Yes it sounds sad, but my quality of life has dramatically improved and Paul and I are both on the same page. We love children. We love our nieces and nephews like crazy, but for us, we are happy just the two of us (three with Rusty, of course :)). Our dreams are so much different now than when we were just getting married and I’m so very grateful that we’ve grown together, especially having married pretty young. So anyways!

All of this was happening while I was reading more about Susan and how she didn’t have children either! I know this might sound like a no-brainer to some people, but I was very shocked! Everyone I know that is older, with very few exceptions, have children! Could someone be happy later in life without children? I didn’t know. And of course I was terrified. But reading about her and other heroines that she loved (Beatrix Potter, also no children! Jane Austen, no children!) I realized that I could lead a different life than everyone else that I knew and be perfectly happy. It was up to me to make my own happy life.

Fast forward to just a few months ago – Susan posted her book tour dates and of COURSE we had to go. The nearest one was in Iowa so my mom, sister, and I planned for our first roadtrip together to go meet the lovely Susan Branch. And since we were in Iowa, a pit-stop at the Field of Dreams was absolutely necessary. So yes, technically speaking, Iowa is definitely the place where dreams come true. This trip is proof. :) xoxo

After driving for four hours, this was a lovely sight to see. It was empty, it was cold, but to me it was perfect. The only thing that could have made it better was some corn.

The house!! So perfect!!

The walk-up gift shop where we had to buy some souvenirs. :)

I take that back – the only thing that could make this better would be if my dad and brother came along too. Someday. :)

The infamous bleachers!!!

My brother’s idea. If we cross that line, who knows what could happen??

There has only been a handful of times in my adult life where I truly felt like I was an actual child all over again. This was definitely one of those times. :)

We needed proof that we played catch on the field. It really happened. Ahhh!!

If you look closely, maybe you can see Annie and Karen on the swing.

The “corn”!! We’ve decided we HAVE to go back when the corn is tall and we can really see what happens when you enter…

After memorizing every wonderful thing about the Field of Dreams so I won’t forget, we drove another hour to get to our hotel. This was our very first girls road trip and it was so fun being with just my sister and mom. We never do stuff like this! Everything was exciting and new and it’s just something I’ll cherish forever. We had a great time watching TV, lounging around, reading, exploring the tiny city we were in, having breakfast in the cute nook, getting ready together, and of course, attending the Susan Branch book signing!!! :)

I have so many of her books but this my first and one of the most inspiring to me. So this was the book I wanted signed. :)

Every chair had a little pile of goodies! :)

Before she came I was like a toddler in my chair. I couldn’t stop swiveling and looking over my shoulder. I wanted to see her as soon as she got in. And then I saw her and Joe walking to meet us and oh my goodness, my heart skipped a beat!! My eyes watered a little and I couldn’t stop smiling- it was like meeting Santa for the first time as a kid, or going to Disney World for the first time. Absolutely thrilling!!

While Susan chatted with us and answered questions, Joe was taking photographs like the supporter he is.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip so I made sure I didn’t pass up on opportunities. I actually raised my hand (TWICE!!) to ask questions, and I even asked Joe for a photo! Such wonderful people!

There were soooo many people! We were so thankful we got there an hour and a half early (there were people that got there earlier than that!) – the line had only gotten through 3 rows by the time we left and it had already been an hour of her signing books. There were at least 20 rows!!

Mom meeting her for the first time!! :) She has a library book bag that she had Susan sign too – she loved it!

Toni meeting her for the first time!!

Ahh!! My cup runneth over. I even told her she’s like my Beatrix Potter. I had to!

So my dear friends, that is our wonderful trip that I’m still replaying in my head. I didn’t want it to end. It just goes to show you that magic can be anywhere, even in Iowa. ;) Happy Tuesday!!! :) xoxo

  1. Shauna says:

    Wow! It’s like George Clooney stopped by — does life get much better than that?!! I’m a fellow writer and Anglophile. You can do it. JUST START!!

  2. Chy says:

    Ooohhh, you are sooooo lucky! What an incredible experience!!

  3. Janet Magina says:

    I met Susan in my town, Plainville MA at her first stop on her tour. I am still on Cloud Nine. She is just the most wonderful, down to earth person. I just wanted to bring her home with me so we could chat all day. I am so glad that you got to meet her and make her, along with BP, your Muse.

    • Nikki says:

      I totally know you feel, Janet!! I didn’t want it to end – it just went all too fast, like a big blur. Thank goodness for photos and diary-keeping. :) Cheers to new friends! xoxo

  4. matty says:

    I cried reading this! I get to meet her in June in Asheville! I. Can. Not. Wait! Joy joy!

    I so understand your desire for children. I was nearly 30 when I had my son and never had another child…. I wanted a basketball team! LOL But, I’ve learned that I can be “mum” to a lot of other children, too, just by loving and supporting them! What a gift you are to those you love!

    Be happy! :)

    • Nikki says:

      Aww Matty you are so sweet!! Hahaha I used to say I wanted a baseball team – too funny!! But you are so right, my nephews and nieces are my absolute world – I even get homesick for them! Have a wonderful time meeting Susan in Asheville!! xoxoxo

  5. Michelle says:

    You are just too cute for words, and if I were lucky enough to meet our Susan, I would cry too. (And I’m 62 years old)!! In fact, I’m a little teary just reading your oh-so-adorable blog post.

    • Nikki says:

      Hahaha oh Michelle, you are too kind!! I’m glad it touched you and I’m so thankful to have all you wonderful kindred spirits on my blog!! :) Cheers! xoxo

  6. RobinLynn says:

    Hi Nikki, I am here from the Friends Of Susan Branch page. (F.O.S.B.)
    Your words are just beautiful. I loved reading your story of you trip to see Susan and Joe. I have been collecting her books since her very first one (about 25 years now). I already had her first 2 books and then when my daughter was born I knew that I HAD to have her Baby Love journal. And that started it all. I now have ALL of her books and some of her other items as well, although not as much as my friend Sandy. I have 11 Pen Pals through her pen pal idea, all SB fans, and have seen her and Joe several times and have almost all of my books signed now. Sandy and I even had our T-shirts signed at Happy Go Smile in Cayucos, California. Isn’t she just Lovely? And Joe, what an incredible man. I look forward to exploring your blog. You have a way with words and I have no doubt that one day your book will be published and I will purchase it. Blessings to you <3

    • Nikki says:

      You are so sweet Robinlynn!! Thank you so much for visiting my little blog – I wish I had known about Susan earlier but alas, timing is everything I’m learning. :) Thank you so much for the encouragement – that means so much to me!! Sending virtual hugs your way – enjoy seeing Susan again (lucky you!!)!! xoxoxo

  7. Sarah says:

    Nikki, it’s thrilling to know that you and your mom and sister had this wonderful trip together to share this special experience. Susan Branch is a role model for many of us. I happen to be her age, so for me, the perspective in reading her memories resonates with memories of my own. Even traveling the English countryside! I’m eagerly awaiting her Austin visit in a few short weeks.
    Enjoyed reading your post. Enjoy the journey as you follow your dreams. ~ Sarah
    PS ~ no children of my own, but my sister and good friends have always shared their children allowing me to be a significant part of these little lives. Life is good!

    • Nikki says:

      Sarah, thank you so much for your comment! It’s such a treat meeting people who, like me, haven’t had children. I don’t feel like such a loner!! :) I hope you enjoyed meeting her in Austin (if it already happened – if not, ENJOY!!) and cheers to meeting new kindred spirits!! :) xoxo

  8. Carol Lichwala says:

    Hi Nikki,

    You are definitely a kindred spirit. I have followed Susan since her first book. I got the same feeling you did when I first met her many years ago.
    So happy for you that you got to meet Susan and Joe. This is definitely a great memory for you.

    • Nikki says:

      That is so wonderful to hear, Carol. I do LOVE being a kindred spirit – it’s been so wonderful connecting with others in the last couple of years, all because of lovely Susan. :) Cheers!! xoxo

  9. Linda Ishmael says:

    Oh lucky you!!!! I’m hoping to see her in Ashville , NC. But you really sound like my kind of girl, baseball and Susan Branch!!

  10. Christine Morgan says:

    I enjoyed reading your experience meeting Susan. I have followed her for years and finally got to meet her when she did her book signing in St. Charles Missouri. I would not have missed it for the world. I had so much fun talking to everyone in line and sharing stories. When the van came around the corner I felt the same as you did–it was like a child meeting Santa for the first time. Tears in my eyes. Susan is really a special person and brings so much life into our lives through her books and blog.

    • Nikki says:

      It’s so wonderful hearing about your time with her, Christine!! Isn’t it great that us kindred spirits can connect around the world?? Thanks so much for your comment – cheers to new friends!! :)

  11. Nana says:

    Oh sweetie pie,I loved reading all about your adventure to Iowa with your mom and Toni..It brought back memories of some of the trips I took with your mom when she was your age and auntie Janette..Keep following your dream..Love you more.:-)

  12. judi says:

    Came from Susan’s tweet! Loved your story and thank you so much for the fab pictures! A MN native now living in FL. Thanks again for sharing! Judi

    • Nikki says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Judi!! Cheers to being a true Minnesotan!! (Although Florida sounds absolutely lovely, especially in the winter. :)) xoxox

      • Judi says:

        Florida is great Nov thru May. Not in the summer/hurricane season. There is no one perfect place. Love each day?

  13. Judy in Ohio says:

    Hi, Nikki!…I am new here to your site…and came via Susan Branch’s Twitter just today!!

    What a lovely story you tell here. I too am a watercolor artist / illustrator and a would-be children’s book writer…not yet “author”. No children either…but have much fun being an Aunt to all of my nieces, grand niece, nephews and grand nephew! I am likely closer to your mom’s age than yours…but you can be sure that we were all
    (Susan,Beatrix,Walt Disney,you, me…and the other ladies…and don’t forget Tasha Tudor) cut from the same cloth. Isn’t it wonderful!!?

    Keep on dreaming, dear Nikki! And thanks so much for the recounting of your wonderful adventure!! LOVED it!! :)

    Happy Trails!!


    • Nikki says:

      Hi Judy!! Thank you so much for visiting my little blog! It’s so wonderful to meet other kindred spirits, especially since you love watercoloring and soon-to-be author!! That is still my dream – I think it’s been my dream since I was a little girl. I’ve just always had the statement (not even a wonder) that I will be an author someday. And it’s so wonderful to meet someone who has similar experiences – I just LOVE being an auntie. There’s really no better job than that, right? Someday I’ll be taking them to Disney World – oh gosh, the fun we’ll have! Cheers to being cut by the same cloth Judy!! :) xoxo

      PS. When you publish your book, please let me know! I would LOVE to see it!! :)

      • Judy in Ohio says:

        I will let you know when/if I get published…and you too, ok?

        But DO IT!
        Don’t wait!!

        And we will ALL also look forward to your Disney World adventures!

        So nice to “meet” you!

        ONWARD and UPWARD!!


  14. Miss Merry says:

    Followed you from Susan Branch’s tweet! My high school girl friends and I got to meet Susan in Hudson, Ohio. I don’t know how anyone who sees her books can’t help falling in love with her! Isnt’ Joe a sweetie?

    • Nikki says:

      Oh how fun Mary!! What a wonderful time with you and your girlfriend!! Oh gosh, yes! Joe was so kind – I HAD to get a photo with him. And I have some ideas who could play him in the movie – Ryan Gosling with his beard, or John Krasinksi. :) xoxox

  15. Toni Dupey says:

    Nikki! I love you!! You’re my inspiration little lady… I had the most wonderful time with you and Mom! Susan is amazing. I can’t put her book down!! Thank you thank you thank you for driving and putting this trip together!!! I’m so glad I was apart of this experience with you! Love you sister!!!

    • Nikki says:

      Toners!!! Love you!! You’re too kind, Tone. So glad we all went together – I STILL can’t stop replaying it in my head! A week ago I was on my way to pick you up!! Let’s go back please? ;) Or perhaps to NYC someday. ;)

  16. Luanne Coats says:

    So glad that your dream came true! It’s amazing how it can happen. I’d been wanting to go to England since I was 12 years old and a Beatles fan. After 52 years, and now a Benedict Cumberbatch fan, I finally got to England last September for 3 weeks. Saw BC in “Hamlet” in London and even got his autograph. Toured the country by car and train, alone, and had a fab time. Susan’s “A Fine Romance” was just fuel to that fire! Tomorrow I and a girlfriend will get to see Susan in Kansas City—it will be so much fun, though not a true road trip like yours, as we are only 45 miles west of KC. Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us “girlfriends”.

    • Nikki says:

      Thank you so much Luanne!! Oh how wonderful!! Dreams really do come true!! :) England sounds absolutely amazing. I totally agree with you, Susan’s book is the fire for my desire to go to England (even though I’ve always wanted to go – her book has at least caused me to make out a timeline for my husband and me :)). I hope you had a wonderful time in KC!! xoxo

  17. Esther says:

    What a lovely, heartfelt post. So glad you got to meet Susan. She’s in my neck of the woods today, but alas, my night blindness means I will have to be happy with my books ?

    • Nikki says:

      Esther, thank you so much for the kind words!! Books are the next best thing, aren’t they? I already felt like I knew her before actually knowing her, so that is something special with her wonderful books and blog. :) xoxo

  18. Charissa says:

    Hi Nikki I followed Susan’s tweet over here. I love your blog It’s really well done and I love what you wrote about your experience with Susan. I knew I had to comment when you said Susan was like Santa. I think so too. She is Christmas to me. Thanks for all your effort into such a lovely post. You’re adorable.

    • Nikki says:

      You are too kind Charissa!! Thanks so much for visiting me and I’m thrilled someone else feels the same way about Santa and Susan – they really are two of a kind. :) You are too sweet!! xoxo

  19. Hi, Nikki! So many happy dreams came true on this trip! It was amazing that you could share these special memories with your mom and sister, too! So happy for all of you! I remember chatting on IG a while back about our upcoming gatherings of Susan’s Girlfriends. I know just how excited you felt, Nikki! Susan Branch has been my inspiration for 30 years. I loved meeting her again at the tea party in Illinois last week. Celebrating all of the Fairy Tale girls who make our own dreams come true! ?

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Dawn!! Thank you so much for visiting my little blog and for your wonderful words!! It was truly a trip of a lifetime, even though it was for something so simple as a baseball field and a book signing, but it’s those little things that make life worth living, right? :) How fun! We heard another girlfriend talking about how she couldn’t make it to the tea party so she came to Iowa’s – I would have LOVED to go to the tea party! Sipping tea with Susan? Dream come true! I hope you had a wonderful time! xoxo

  20. Karen P. - (Wisconsin) says:

    Hello from Twitterville, Nikki! What a great story you’ve shared from your heart….a journey of discovery of so many things in your life and coming to peace, joy and fulfillment. Great place to be! So glad you were able to make the trip to Iowa! Field of Dreams! Yay! Susan Branch! Yay! How nice to have been abe to share that with your mom and sister! Happy Spring to you and darling hubby! xo….Karen P.

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Karen!! Thank you so much for your kind words – it definitely wasn’t easy sharing my story but it’s so wonderful how it all turned out! And now I’m meeting more girlfriends!! Wonderful! Yes!! The Field of Dreams was so exciting and it was such a wonderful time to spend with my sister and mom. Hopefully someday we can do again – perhaps to another book signing! ;) Thanks so much for visiting my little blog! xoxo

  21. Charlene Burgin says:

    Hi Nikki. Susan Branch tweeted about your post so I came to read it. I loved it! I, too, am a huge Susan Branch fan so I know exactly how you felt. I have been to several of her signings and she is always so lovely. I am thrilled for you. Best wishes.

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Charlene! I’m so thrilled she shared it and now I get to meet other girlfriends!! Thanks so much for your kind words! xoxo

  22. Lynn Marie says:

    Hi Nikki!
    I found my way to your adorable blog by way of Susan’s tweet–no doubt your followers will now overfill a bushel basket. I LOVED reading about your meeting with Susan. I have seen her twice now, the last time being this book tour on May 10 in Wilmette, IL. How you described it when you first saw her is just like it was with me and how it is with all of “us girlfriends”—how could it be any other way? ? Welcome to the pack and I look forward to reading your future blog posts.

    • Nikki says:

      Hello Lynn!! You are so kind! I’m so glad I’m not alone with my little girl giddiness around her! Haha! :) I went over to your blog after seeing your comment and I just loved it! Thanks so much for visiting mine – so glad to have met another girlfriend! :) xoxo

  23. Lisa Hay says:

    Hi from Twitter where Susan posted the link to your blog! Yay!
    This is so awesome! I can’t wait for my turn to meet her in Austin, TX! You are all so adorable!
    Hugs to you,
    Lisa Hay

    • Nikki says:

      Hello Lisa!! Thanks so much for visiting my little blog! Have a wonderful time meeting Susan!! She’s absolutely wonderful!! xoxoxo

  24. Susan Branch says:

    Absolutely adorable Nikki! The Field of Dreams . . . we need to go there! You guys were darling, I loved meeting you ~ thank you for bringing your sweet selves and shedding your light on all of us lucky people!

    • Nikki says:

      Susan!! What a wonderful surprise to see you on my blog! Thank you so much for stopping by and your kind words!! It was truly a pleasure meeting you – dreams do come true. :) Have a wonderful rest of your trip! xoxo