Mystical Temples and Bridges to the Future . . .

“My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me.  It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future.”  Pearl Bailey

Here I am in my “temple,” making “Curried Pumpkin Pots” from my Autumn Book.  I look like a mountain in Vermont in that apron, but I love it . . . I am a fall festival all by myself in my kitchen!  The third best place for me after we got home.  Number one, was of course, seeing my kitty; number two, we needed to go out on our walk and see how everything was doing out at the pond; and number 3, into the kitchen to nest like crazy and get ready for the holidays.

When I pull a card from my recipe box, where there are recipes from my mom, my dad, and my grandma inside, (and chocolates I saved from the QEII and a note from my girlfriend Sarah) and pick up one of my old wooden cooking spoons, I go right into that “significance,” where the “past bridges to the future.”

There’s no better time of year to feel that connection and all the traditions that come along with it, than now.  And there is no better time for the nesting part of it, than when you are home (home!) from a long journey; you’re alone in your kitchen, with your birds scurrying around the feeders just outside the windows; your guy is making hammering noises outside on the rose arbor (men making hammer noises, or lawn mowing noises is an aphrodisiac to me), because right that moment you know that all is right with the world. 

But all is not quite right if your cutting board looks like this, not really!  I promised you I would write about keeping your wooden things looking healthy, so this is the day; and here is the “before” photo!  Because #1, I love my cutting boards and old spoons and #2, I really couldn’t be making beautiful fall food with dried up wooden things . . . it’s really just not done! 🙂        (I’m nesting, leave me alone.)

I’ll show you the cutting board first, because it’s basically the same method for the spoons . . . the thing that solves the problem is Mineral Oil.  Because, unlike other kinds of oil, it will not go rancid.  You can get it at the supermarket, or at the drug store, and keep it under your kitchen sink.

You can already see how much better the wood looks under the puddle of oil!

I use a pastry brush to paint the oil on.  And since it has a wooden handle too, I soak the brush part in a bowl of hot water and dish soap when I’m done . . . no dishwasher for wooden things, it dries them out, takes all the color out of them, removes the patina of chicken soup and creamed butter and sugar, all those cookie juices you worked so hard to instill into these things.  Just a quick hand washing for them is fine.

The cutting board is done; now here is the “before” picture for one of my favorite spoons  . . . a spoon that knows all my cooking secrets and the inside story of every dinner party I’ve ever given.  A very good girl.

And now, she is oiled.  We let her sit, absorbing, while we do the others.

This takes no time at all.  After they’re all done I let everything soak up the oil for a couple of hours; it will all disappear.  See the “Sue” spoon in the middle?  My dad made that with his own two hands. ♥  You can also find old wooden spoons, even handmade ones, sometimes in antique stores, and all they need is a good soapy washing and some mineral oil to bring them back to life, carrying all their cooking history with them, adding more “mystical” to your kitchen.

This pig board is another thing that’s been with me through thick and thin and cheese parties and sparerib servings too.  I got him when I was in my early twenties and he’s followed me everywhere, from California to Martha’s Vineyard, from small apartment to New England house, through cookbook writing and Joe-meeting too. ♥ 

I never use wooden cutting boards for raw meat or fish, I have a plastic one for that.  But every once in a while I will clean my wooden boards by sprinkling salt on them, rubbing them with lemon juice, then drying them well before I oil them.

Deep dark and delicious, that’s what they look like when they’re done.  Ready to return to their spot next to the stove, ready for the holidays, ready to help bring the past, through favorite old recipes (my grandma’s Turkey Stuffing!), into the future, again, for another holiday season. 

Now your turn.  I have a very special wooden thing that I think fits right into the realm of mystical-kitchen making, although, in the end, it will be up to you to complete the picture.  It’s a starter kit, and truly one-of-a-kind, a little original piece of art in my mind . . .

Would you like to have this?  I’m a big rescuer of old wooden recipe boxes.  I can’t bear to leave them behind when I see them in antique stores, especially if they have some family’s collection of recipes in them. So I give them for gifts. When I found this one, it had divider cards in it and a few recipes; of course I have no idea where it came from, because like quilts, recipe boxes aren’t signed. 🙁  I made it a little more homey by writing words on the divider cards; I added my recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole (it’s used, as you will see; it came out of my box) . . . I also put in the words to the song Cinderella sang, a dream is a wish your heart makes, that I keep in my own box.   One of you should have this box is what I think.  It has plenty of extra cards in it for your own recipes.  I wish I could do one for all of you, but I don’t have that many!  It’s a way to say thank you for giving me such a wonderful welcome home!  It’s so fun doing this blog and knowing you’re out there!!!  As soon as I find out the name of the winner I will write a note on the little gift card that you see under the box, and tuck it inside. 

All you have to do to enter the drawing for this box is leave me a comment telling all of us about your favorite holiday tradition. Or, even just say hi, and you’re entered!  You may already have a recipe box, but maybe you want to add your own recipes to this one for your daughter, son, niece or nephew.  (If you’re one of the Daring Girls Club, tell your moms about this so they can enter and do it for you! :-))  And then be sure to sign the box with your name and the year.  xoxo

It will fly off Martha’s Vineyard into your hands — we’ll wait a couple of days for everyone to have a chance to see this posting, then we’ll draw the winner and the wooden box will come, from my mystical kitchen to yours . . .

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1,323 Responses to Mystical Temples and Bridges to the Future . . .

  1. Diana Jean Hall says:

    Hi Susan: So glad that you are back safe and sound from your adventure! We just had a vacation in Door County (the Martha’s Vinyard of the Midwest! LOL) and though we enjoyed it soo much, coming home is part of the adventure because it gives us the perfect ending!!! My favorite tradition is just being with my family on holidays, birthdays and any celebrations that we come up with. As I get older (57!! YIKES, how did that happen???? LOL) and having lost my Dad a few years ago, just BEING with my loved ones is all I really need. I have three sons and have been contemplating making recipe boxes/books for them as presents for Christmas. I too LOVE LOVE older/antique things..I would count myself truly lucky to win this beautiful recipe box that blessed soneone’s home long ago!

    Thanks again for all you do! You truly are an inspiration!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s all I need too, that and maybe a good snow storm and a warm fire, and something in the oven. Thank you Diana!

  2. Donna says:

    My favorite Christmas tradition started 42 years ago when I bought my newborn daughter a Christmas ornament. Every Christmas I added an ornament for her and then another for my second daughter when she was born. Shortly after DD#1 got married she came over and we went through the boxes of ornaments. She collected hers while we laughed and/or shed tears over each one. Most of them were handmade by me or family members. She had 27 ornaments to put on her first tree that Christmas. Now I’m doing the same thing for my two grandchildren!

  3. Dorinda Turner says:


    I have wanted to write to you for a long time now, but I never have time. I have to read your blog at work since we don’t have internet at my house and I never have time to write a comment. I live on a farm in rural eastern Pulaski County, Kentucky. We have 2 goats, some cows, chickens, dogs and cats of course…2 big fat cats to be exact. I want to tell you all about them. My goats are named Princess and Spot, they are both nanny goats and very nosy. I have not named the cows as I try not to name the animals I will be eating. Now as for my chickens we have about 33 chickens. Some are white, some are red, some we don’t know what kind they are, some have feathers on their legs, so you get the point they are all different. The majority of them have names too…names like Anabelle, Louise, Madeline, Big Momma and Little Momma are just a few of the names. Your post from several weeks ago about Nancy Luce really struck a chord with me. I felt so bad for her that her only friends were chickens. My chickens are a lot like her’s were I image…when they see me coming they run to meet me…partly because they know I am going to feed them, but I also like to think they enjoy my company.  We have 5 dogs, all various breeds (we aren’t picky), most of dogs we have rescued. My dog is a boxer that someone just dumped on the side of the road by our house. She is been the best dog ever. Her name is Belle. I wish I could post some pictures for you. Now as for my kitties I have a girl kitty…named Noel because I got her on December 23rd and a boy kitty named Tristan whose mom decided to have her kittens on my back porch when I lived in Florida, which is how I got him. The picture you posted of your Mo kitty reminded me so much of Tristan. Tristan was 25 pounds last year when he started having some medical problems and he had to go on a diet….shhh don’t tell him that though. He has lost a little bit of weight but we can’t get him under 18/19 pounds. Now Noel she is a little heavy too, but not as bad as Tristan. Noel is a Blue Russian and Tristan is a Tabby.

    Ok so now that I have told you all about my animals I will tell you about my farm. We are about 25 min from the nearest town which is Somerset which is where I work. I love our little farm. We aren’t very big and mostly it is just a hobby for us. We grow a huge vegetable garden…we grow yellow squash…Which reminds me I have a yellow squash casserole recipe for you; I will leave it at the end of this post. We also grow corn, mini pumpkins and gourds, tomatoes, lettuce and spinach, carrots, onions, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, potatoes and pumpkins. We don’t always do really well but we like having fresh veggies. Where we live there are wild blackberry bushes so this summer I canned fresh blackberries and made my own pickles from the cucumbers I grew. We try to preserve as much as we can so nothing goes to waste. As you know we have our chickens who provide us many eggs and we also have a few bee hives on the back of our property and we get about 12 pints of honey a year which is just enough for us. I love your little garden set up and it has inspired me. I am going to try building a garden area similar around my raised vegetable beds and hopefully then I will be able to transplant my herbs and they will all be in one spot. If you ever come to Kentucky you need to come see our farm…my description does not do it justice.

    You talk about how you and Joe love to go visit antique store and flea markets. My husband and I love to do that especially in the winter when it is cold outside. In Kentucky we have what is called a peddlers mall or vendor’s mall. Vendors set up their booths inside, kind of like an indoor flea market. You can find all sorts of wonderful things…it’s like a big treasure hunt. If you ever come to Kentucky you have to go to one…I know you will love it!! Speaking of treasure hunts my husband, Chris and I took a trip to Franklin, TN not too long ago. They are known for their antique stores. They had 15 stores listed in their guide and we were only able to get through 4 in the one day we were there. We had a blast. You should go there too. I found all sorts of things like jars, hankies, baskets, tea cups, and quilts of course.

    Ok here is the recipe for Squash Casserole: take a med to large yellow squash and cut it up into chunks (no need to peel), put it in a pot of water, Add a med yellow onion cut into small pieces put it in the pot as well. Let them cook until they are soft (you want them soft enough to mash up) once the squash is soft take out and mash up like you would potatoes. Once it is all mashed up put into your greased casserole dish, add some shredded cheddar cheese (I add a whole 4 cup bag), a little salt and pepper to taste, then take some Ritz crackers and crumble up all over the top, either pour a little bit of melted butter or buy the spray butter and moisten the crackers with some melted butter, put in the over for about 30 min at 350 just to get warm and melt the cheese. It is so good and you get to use the squash and onions you grow.  Which reminds me I made your chocolate sauce recipe and everyone who has ever tasted it loves it. I am going to make a bunch and give it away at Christmas time. 

    So I started this post to comment on my favorite holiday tradition and get entered in the give away, but I took the roundabout way of getting there. It is so hard to choose just one favorite tradition, do I choose making my own cards, or do I choose baking all my favorite dishes, or do I choose going out with my family to cut down our very own handpicked Christmas tree. I think I have to say my favorite holiday tradition is going to look at Christmas lights with my mom. We use to drive around when I was little looking at the displays that people would set up in the yards and we still try to get together at least once during the holiday season to go look at light displays. 

    Dorinda Turner

    PS. Sorry for writing a book.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s OK, one thing the internet seems to have plenty of, and that’s space! 🙂 Just loved all your animals!! Your garden sounds wonderful! Thank you Dorinda!

  4. Melanie says:

    We always, always, ALWAYS get together with my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. ALWAYS. I also do my share of baking – homemade cinnamon rolls, cookies, cookies and more cookies!

  5. Kelli says:

    As of this moment all of my recipe cards are tied together with a very frayed piece of ribbon that used to be part of my grandmothers apron. A little box to put them in would be wonderful!! It is a great idea to get one for my daughter and my 2 nieces for Christmas! No wonder I love your blog and website so much!! Thank you!!

  6. Debra Gibbs says:

    I am on a restricted diet, so I drool a lot when I read your recipes! But I still love to handwrite my favorite dishes on fun recipe cards…. and how fun it would be to have a special place to keep them!

  7. Hi Susan,
    I really enjoyed this post and learned something too – I didn’t know about oiling the wooden spoons. I just got your “Autumn” book yesterday and am enjoying as always your recipes and illustrations. thanks for sharing your beautiful work with the world.

  8. What an enjoyable read! When I saw the recipe box, I recognized it right away as being identical to one I all ready own…no need to add my name to the drawing pot – I hope someone else can add your recipe box to their treasures.
    Just had to say that my own recipe box came to me intact with the manufacturer’s paper in the inside top of the lid – like yours. Foolish me – before I knew better, I removed it :o( I tend to learn the hard way!

    • sbranch says:

      Well it does look like something that should be removed . . . but now that it’s so old, I sorta guess we better hang on to it!

  9. Erika Laing says:

    This is so great! I just love it! There weren’t really “traditions” in my family, but I have started traditions in my home with my daughter… the pumpkin patch, baking & cooking certain things for the holidays…. this makes me so happy : ) We always make a sweet potatoe bake with the crunchy brown sugary nutty top, choc chip cinnamon cookies, pumpkin bread and new things that we each find we love are being added yearly! I will have a great recipe box to leave for my daughter and when she has children, I just know she will hand it down. These are some of the reasons I love your website and blogs, you inspire family, me and my BFF hope to inspire the next generation…. XOS~ Erika Laing

  10. Lynn Sause says:

    When I found my mothers recipe box that included recipes from Aunts, Grandmothes and some that I could not decipher. It was like finding a treasure chest. I hope my daughter will feel the same someday, when she finds my recipes.

  11. Linda Stenzel says:

    I have a small ceramic candy dish that looks like a miniature pie. At Christmas it’s filled with Christmas M&Ms and is in a different place in the living room every year. The kids come in and surreptitiously look around for it and then eat the candies when they think the adults aren’t looking. Most of them are now adults but they still look for the candy dish 😀

  12. Becky says:

    I can’t decide which holiday I like the best. I love them all and have fun with all the different things each one brings. The decorating, the cooking and family drawing close together.

  13. Carol Pfeiffer says:

    Hi Susan, welcome home! I love the holidays and we have lots of traditions. One of my favorites is our “Pumpkin Carving Parties”. We furnish the pumpkins, 30 to 40 most years. Family an
    d friends gather for the big event. Everone carves a pumpkin their own design or we have patterns available. when all is done, we put them in rows on tables (out side) and light them up. What a sight, young and old all love and enjoy this very special event. And of course we have wonderful pot luck dinner to end the evening. Thanks again for being you!!!

  14. MoeWest says:

    Thanks for the reminder to oil my wooden things. I’ll do that this weekend. Even though most of my recipes are now in a computer file, I love to keep some favourite ones on recipe cards. It’s so nice of you to have a giveaway for this lovely recipe box. Thanks.

  15. Barbara says:

    What a lovely wooden box–love the dove-tailing at the corners. My favorite holiday tradition, among many, is making my Dad’s recipe for Holiday Wassail. Over the years he perfected the recipe given to him by some Texaco ladies who made it for every Christmas Open House at their office. After he aged and was unable to get out to shop, every fall holiday it was my privilege to buy the ingredients for him and help put the recipe together in a big percolator that would serve a crowd. Daddy passed away six years ago in January and ever since, the making of the wassail is like a sacred ceremony to me. I have the recipe written in his own beautiful script and I would truly enjoy keeping it in your lovely wooden box. Thanks for the chance to remember again some special moments with my Dad.

  16. Beth Purcell says:

    Favorite holiday tradition? Getting out all the decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving!

  17. Pamela Seitz says:

    Thank you for the tip on how to oil wooden cutting boards. My daughter and my new son-in-law just brought one back from their Honeymoon drive through New England. I told them to use olive oil, not knowing it might get rancid. Oops! I also love to collect recipes and this would make a perfect keepsake to pass along to them. Please enter me and keep on blogging. I Love It 😀

  18. Raynore Jones says:

    My favorite holiday tradition? That would be that we always stop our hubbub and chaos and attend Christmas Eve services. We don’t have to dress up, it’s always come as you are. I love that we always end with a candlelit Silent Night. Whenever my family is in town (from North Carolina) we all go there.

  19. Hi Susan,
    I have been a minister for 41 years, and my favorite holiday tradition, hands down, is the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service where I stand with my lighted candle in front of my congregation and watch them light their candles from the one I am holding. No matter what has gone on during the year I feel filled with love for each person there.

    • sbranch says:

      That sounds so wonderful!!! I’m so happy you can do that, for them, and for you! I think I know a little of how you feel!

  20. Cindy Mitchell says:

    We always bought each of our daughters an ornament that they could have when the tree went up. Something to commemorate the year just finished or a special theme they liked. They always looked forward to having the “early” Christmas and I carried on the tradition with my grandchildren. I would love to win the recipe box as I don’t have one! It would be a wonderful start for collection of cards. Thank you!

  21. Teresa says:

    I love reading your blog. It is reminiscent of the simple times. It is just like a walk down memory lane with my mom and grandmothers still alive giving me advice that I can’t ask them any longer. I just love baking and recipes and, well, just cookbooks in general. I can sit down and read like a book. I have had a desire to organize my hand-written recipes and think I will do that soon. Thank you for sharing your giftings with us.

  22. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Oh my, I just loved visiting you in your kitchen with you in your Fall apron, was a wee bit crowded with all our GF’s though! Great wood 101! I too treasure old recipes handwritten by generations of family cooks. So many simple things in life that make us soooooooo happy, and grateful, aren’t there?! A wonderful family Christmas tradition started by my mother (who is now 96), was to make candy – lots of fudge, divinity, penuche & whatever else sounded good to her (& was always good to us!). Yumm, homemade candy! Mom is no longer able to make candy, but she did supervise me in my attempts last year! I’ll be trying again this year, with her supervision, until I get it right! Love the wooden recipe box with the old and new recipes, what a wonderful, generous gift from you! Happy homemaking! Hugs!

  23. Diane S says:

    I love getting your blog post, Willards & any email are a bright spot in my day. Love reading about your train journey, that is on my to do list, a train trip. My traditions have changed a bit as both my daughters are married now. Still bake their favorites, Frosted Sour Cream Sugar cookies, Pumpkin Pie, Bars & cheesecake. I love to bake & love any old kitchen item. We have my DH Grandmothers kitchen wood cookstove , we use it as a decoration, don’t have a flu. Set lots of neat kitchen vintage items on it, cookbooks by season, your Autumn book is setting there now. We rescued it from the old home place that was being cleaned out. We get lots of comments on it. The old wooden recipe box would look neat on there also. I decorate a lot for holidays & if I mention I might cut back the girls don’t want me too. We have 4 grandsons, one we just got last week. My grandmothers both died when I was young, wish I had lots of memories of them. Try to create that with the Grands. The girls & all their families gather at our home every Sun. for lunch after church. Love all your beautiful artwork & writing.

  24. Elaine Hull says:

    First I must tell you Susan, I love your artwork and your website as well as all your precious books. My favorite tradition is just the getting together of family. The excitement that is everywhere during the holidays. The smells of baking desserts, hams, turkeys etc. The laughing and recalling of past holidays shared with my precious family. Oh and stacking all my favorite cookbooks on the counter looking back through them for yummy recipes to make. :o) YOURS are always included. Thank you.

  25. Hello Susan:) I am sorry to say my parents are no longer living.
    One brother that I make The Cranberry congealed salad for and he always ask , is this Mommy’s bowl ? But, My Thanksgiving Blessing is my Daughter born on Nov. 24, so it comes around to be on Thanksgiving every couple of years.
    Have a wonderful fall and Thanksgiving with your Sweetie and family.
    Sweet Hugs from Texas, Mary:)

  26. ChristieB says:

    Thank you so much for the lesson on “oiling” my wooden cutting boards – I’m going to go home and do that right away! So glad you are home and nesting again. “There’s no place like home, Dorothy – I mean: Susan!” : >)
    I absolutely love the hand written recipes that I do have that I have gotten from my two Grannies who are no longer with us. This wooden box would be a perfect place for them. Thank you so much for the chance to be chosen. HUGS… and stitches

  27. Lori H. says:

    I have some recipe cards in my grandmother’s handwriting, too, plus her cute doughnut cutter with a removal “hole” maker (aluminum with red painted handle). I have her cookie spatula which is not allowed to go in the dishwasher since the wooden handle is losing it’s red paint. I never knew her but these things of hers warm my heart when I use them 🙂

  28. Kathy says:

    Eating lefsa (Norwegian deliciousness!) which we only had/have at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m 50% Norwegian and love the stuff, but must need to be 100% Norwegian to be able to make it; it can be a real challenge……..but oh so worth it when it comes out right!!

    • sbranch says:

      Never had it, but it sounds interesting!

    • Karen P says:

      Love lefse! We used to have it at my Swedish in-laws (along with lutefisk….ugh!) at Christmas. Served warm with butter and sugar and rolled up, right?

      • sbranch says:

        Loving the sound of that!! 🙂

      • Kathy says:

        Yes, our family eats lefsa with butter and sugar and rolled up!! I’ve heard that others eat theirs with jelly/jams?! Have never tried it that way. And I second the “ugh” on the lutefisk! It doesn’t even smell good to me! It was always served on Christmas Eve, but I opted for the Norwegian meatballs, which are very good, and lots of lefsa!

  29. Nancy says:

    My own recipe box is overflowing!! I would love to have another one with all that history and love!! I would fill it up, and like you did, I will add some momentos as well!!

  30. Beth says:

    My favorite Christmas tradition from childhood and still now, is when everyone in my family bundles up in our warm, fuzzy pairs of sweats, winter coats, scarves, hats, boots and mittens we head out into the cold night for a long drive to look at Christmas lights. I love how my dad heats up the car so it’s already warm when we get in, and off we go! I always bring my favorite Christmas c.d. and we sing Christmas carols all night long from Bing Crosby, Neil Diamond, to the Chipmunks! We drive along the country roads and watch to our hearts content as the twinkling lights pass us by! The togetherness in the cozy car on a dark Winter’s night cannot be beat. I will always treasure this memory and hope to continue it one day when I have my own kids!

  31. DeniseLynn says:

    Oh Susan, just reading along brought smiles to my heart as I can remember watching Grandma and my mom both in their kitchens oiling up their lovely wooden tools of the trade. It sure did my heart some good to stop by today. A favorite tradition at Thanksgiving time is having family members of all ages to write what they are thankful for in an old journal I have. It seems that many of them roll their eyes a bit, but just wait a few more years and they’ll be really grateful for that special book filled with the handwriting of loved ones. *and I might add I am giggling at the very thought of winning that precious recipe box. What a treasure for whomever wins. Be still my heart; could it be me?!

  32. nancy says:

    Thanks for sharing your daily life. I look forward to each new ‘share’.
    Thanks again.

  33. Tonya Burns says:

    Favorite tradition is homemade cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate before bed on Christmas Eve—while opening one present!

  34. Barbara Stillman says:

    Hi Susan!
    Thank you for your wonderful blog–I read it everyday! It lifts me up to see you write so positively and I feel you are talking directly to me! My husband had open heart surgery a week and half ago and is doing well. Reading your blog is my get-a-way to happy land!! Thank you for all you do. Oh and please enter my name in the drawing for the cute receipe box. Thank you.
    Barbara S.
    Cumming, GA

    • sbranch says:

      So happy to hear your husband is on the mend! Will make exceptionally wonderful holidays this year!! Thank you Barbara!

  35. Karyn Gardner says:

    Thanks for the tips on oiling the wooden cutting boards, I really needed that! As for traditions, I can honestly say that I am an extreme traditionalist (is that a word)! I think it definitely comes from my mom but it is being continued as we speak through my two daughters. So as not to bore you, I will do this quickly. We start decorating the day after Thanksgiving and have two full size trees, one with all of our ornaments that we’ve collected over the years and the other is all Disney ornaments we have collected! We have two smaller trees and greenery garlands galore! We hang a pickle in our Christmas tree every year that gets hidden on Christmas Eve and the person who finds it first on Christmas morning gets to open a family gift (usually a game or new Christmas Book/Movie). Every Christmas Eve we have dinner at our home and then go out to look at Christmas lights and then when my girls are done with showers, two early presents appear with new pj’s to wear to bed and then to Mema & Papa’s house in the morning (my parents) ~ and my daughters are 20 & 22, in college and they would just have a fit if we tried to change anything.
    I could go on and on…but I had planned on just saying Hi and Welcome Home! I’m in California so I can’t say Welcome Back! 😉 I’ve been following your blog religiously for several months now and just love it (and you)…thank you for inviting us into your life! Oh, and I’d love to win the recipe box as I have all of my grandmother’s handwritten recipes and recipe cards that she had saved and that would compliment them wonderfully!!!

  36. Tammy says:

    Welcome Home Susan and Joe! I was thrilled to read about the last of your trip home — how exhausted you must have been when you finally arrived.

    I love your blog! It’s such fun and almost like having you as a best friend! I’ve always wanted to hear more about your daily life and such, so this is just wonderful! But how do you do it all? You are AWESOME! Actually, I would say that your blog is the best thing about the internet! Seriously!

    Keep on posting! We love you!

    • sbranch says:

      That is so nice Tammy . . . I love doing it. Being home, just as you say, is wonderful. Back in my spot.

  37. Barbara Stillman says:


  38. Barbara Stillman says:

    What does awaiting moderation mean?

    • sbranch says:

      It means it’s waiting for me to read it and approve it, because you wouldn’t believe all the spam that comes in here too…I’m sure you wouldn’t want to read when they write “you make blogging glance great” — that’s how they write, sometimes I just want to laugh!

  39. Susan L says:

    BAKING!! and DECORATING!!! and SHOPPING AND WRAPPING GIFTS!!! The best three months of the year! But my daughter is now working on her own “favorite” receipes and I got her a Susan Branch book in which I put all her favorites from MY cookbook. It is fun to see her all our “traditional” menus being passed on to another generation 🙂

  40. Dawn says:

    Baking Christmas cookies…Giving Christmas cookies…EATING Christmas cookies! It’s like a little time capsule full of memories. It brings my family (past, present & future) all together in my heart!

  41. Becky H says:

    Cinnabons and coffee while opening stockings and watching the littlest find Santa’s gift with wide eyes and great delight! Magical!
    Thanks for all you do that adds to the magic in all our lives! We can never get enough!

  42. Terry Lummer says:

    Hi, Susan!
    I will never again put my wooden spoons into the dishwasher.
    My favorite holiday tradition, and this may sound odd, but it is Christmas Eve when my husband and I take our children out to dinner. We have been doing this for many years. The reason we started this was because I always cook for a large group on Christmas Day, so it was a treat for me. It has turned out to be my favorite holiday tradition. Oh, yes, when we get home my children exchange gifts with each other and then they give their gifts to my husband and me. This way Christmas morning is all for their gifts. Fun! Fun! Fun!

  43. Donna Valentine says:

    Dear Susan…First of all, welcome home! I imagine how wonderful it must have felt to finally come home after your long trip. There is something about being home in the fall; that nesting instinct to get ready for fall and winter seems to kick in more than any other time of year, I think. Being right there at home with your family, including pets 🙂 , and being sure everyone is well cared for and secure. Being cozy while the wind starts to blow, the leaves begin to swirl, and you are almost ready for that day when you pull open the curtains and see that first snow! As for some holiday traditions, there is not one specific thing I can mark, but gathering as much family together as possible for Thanksgiving and having my daughters, whichever ones can be here, since they are a little scattered now( I will have 2 out of 4 home this year) make our traditional cranberry punch and nibble on the stuffing as it gets ready, and then gather around after dinner with our close neighbors and exchange deer and elk hunting stories with them and our boys. Sometimes we have out of state friends visiting, and then the stories really get exciting! ( This is Montana!) I love Thanksgiving because it always makes me think of the early days of America and how much more simple life was back then… Thank you , Susan, for helping us all to appreciate life’s simple joys, in your artwork and books. They are much more than precious… God bless you…Donna Valentine

  44. Connie M. says:

    My favorite tradition for Thanksgiving for years has been fixing either the gravy or stuffing with a little liver hidden in there 🙂 My daughter always hovers over me when I make either – she totally enjoys both but is always on the lookout for that “dreaded liver” I sneak into it! She is a wonderful cook as well – and believe it or not – she now likes the “dreaded LIVER” and brussell sprouts! Ha! Thank you so much for sharing with us all!

  45. Sue Giljum says:

    Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for my family. I use a lot of recipes handed down to me from my aunt and mom. We use a Turkey platter given to me by my husband’s grandma, so it is very special and very old.

  46. Buzz'n Bea says:

    Our family celebrates together on Christmas Eve with dinner and then we open presents. We started out years ago with “Snow on the Mountain”, then found out our DIL didn’t really care for it., (after about 5 years). Traditions at our house are not set in stone. We switched to Spaghetti, another 5 years pass. About 6 years ago I learned how to make whole Beef Tenderloin served with Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa sauce. It was proclaimed the new tradition forever. Actually, I think that it is the sauce they really love, there is nothing it does not taste good with it on. lol

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure! We used to have spaghetti on Christmas Eve — for years, that my grandma made, which, unfortunately had corn and olives in. We kids did not like it at all. No corn please and especially, no hot olives. I guess it’s always good to go light on the “traditions” until everyone is truly happy! 🙂

  47. Melanie says:

    My favor-TIST holiday tradition is making turkey cookies for Thanksgiving. I make them every year and cannot remember a Thanksgiving without them. I have my mom’s 1960’s era turkey cookie cutter (red plastic) that I MUST use. I also MUST use the “Ethel’s Sugar Cookie” recipe from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book and buttercream frosting – but I substitute rum flavoring for the vanilla – YUM! -and spread the frosting over the ‘feathers’, and then sprinkle fall colored jimmies over the frosting. I like having a cup of tea and eating a cookie after dinner and dessert is’s something I used to do with my mom.. I miss her. My teenage daughter does the decorating on the cookies now – and someday she’ll have the red turkey cutter so she can make them with her kids…

  48. downthelanegirl says:

    The holidays are a little hard for me since I lost my best friend almost two years ago. My mom.

  49. Karen says:

    Dear Susan,
    Very important…your blog brightens my days, frequently while at work! Holiday tradition: Every Christmas my friend-like-a-sister-since 6th grade and I put on our mother’s well worn aprons and bake cookies from their handwritten recipes. We make a mess, drink some wine, laugh and reminisce knowing their spirits are with us 🙂

  50. Karen says:

    Very Important: Your blogs brighten my days, frequently while I’m at work! Holiday tradition: My friend-like-a-sister since the 6th grade and I put on our mother’s well worn aprons and bake cookies from their handwritten recipes. We make a mess, get silly, drink some wine and reminisce knowing they’re with us in spirit!

  51. Marilyn says:

    My 21 year old daughter has graduated from college and has moved back to Texas. She will be renting her first big-person apartment and I would love to give her a recipe boz with my family recipes and yours !!!! 😉

  52. Angie says:

    One of my favorite holiday tradition is spending a whole day making all kinds of holiday cookie, and then spend a whole day making fruitcake.

  53. Janie Hall says:

    NY cheesecake and eggnog on Christmas Eve!!!

  54. Pamela Jo says:

    Thank you for the info about using mineral oil on old wooden spoons. I have a collection which is looking very dry, so will look for the oil the next time I shop.
    My favorite holiday tradition is always spending Christmas Eve with family. Sadly, our family is much smaller than it once was. After my grandparents died, my mom and I went through boxes of old 8mm films of our home movies. We chose the ones which included all of our loved ones who are no longer with us (especially holiday gatherings), had them transferred to DVD’s, and now our Christmas Eve tradition is watching those movies, laughing and crying, and cherishing so many wonderful memories. Seeing all of those familiar and beloved faces makes the holiday feel just a little bit like it used to in “the good old days” when our entire family was together.
    So nice of you to want to share the lovely recipe box with one of us. You know that whoever receives it will treasure it…because we all treasure you!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Pamela Jo . . . and aren’t we lucky to live in these times of home movies! I just did the same thing with my mom at home, watched an old Christmas together, it was so fun.

  55. nancy says:

    I have just re-read your Fall Book, as I do every fall. You really inspire me!!! I so enjoy your blogs and willards, it certainly brightens my day. Hugs to you.

  56. Debbie says:

    Favorite Holiday Memories…making my favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe and giving it away to family and friends, then hearing how much they enjoyed it!

  57. Julie says:

    I have a snowman collection. Most are vintage and I fill my mantels with them. I love them.

  58. Lynn Rue says:

    Hi Susan,

    Love the recipe box and how special you’ve made it 🙂 My favorite holiday memory is of my grandmother making chili beans every christmas eve……one year she mistakenly added cinnamon instead of chili powder!! She called them “cinnabeans”
    We all got a kick out of it!

    Take care,

  59. Kathy J says:

    My favorite holiday tradition when I was little was going to my Nana’s on Christmas Eve. All my aunts and uncles, cousin would be there all dressed up for the holiday. Down in the living room on the marble coffeetable was a wooden lazy susan with ceramic dividers and all the special things my nana made only at christmastime were always there..bugle mix, meat tarts, shrimp, tomato aspic, and her famous chip dip. I would always sneak upstairs to my grandmas bedroom, where all the gifts everyone brought for each other would be in piles according to family. I loved to go in there in the dark, with only the hall light illuminating the room, looking at all the coats piled on the bed, the gifts on the floor, the snow falling outside the window, the room smelling of my nana’s perfume…I would snuggle into my moms fur coat that she only wore on special occasions and fall asleep….dreaming of what was to come….

  60. Linda says:

    The recipe box and its’ collection make for interesting reading. I have often gone into my Mom’s box hunting for those special recipes she made for our family and find myself reminiscing about her kitchen and all the goodness that came from it ~ good memories of the past to be treasured ❤ ❤ ❤

  61. Priscilla says:

    Thank you for sharing with us. I love your blog it is so much fun to hear from you. We have alot of Christmas traditions for decorating the Christmas tree and the meals we eat, but my favorite when the kids were little and we returned home from Christmas Eve service was to cuddle in front of the fire in the fireplace with all the glittery starry lights from the Christmas tree and the garlands in the room and watch “The Bishop’s Wife” starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young. Christmas Eve is a magical night, full of hope and anticipation, and this movie always touches my heart just like Christmas does.

    • sbranch says:

      I always thought I had seen every movie in the world done from the 1930’s to the 1950’s — because I just adore them. It was probably around 12 years ago The Bishops Wife showed up on TV and I saw it for the first time . . . I was so surprised and happy . . . where had I been all my life!!!? One of my very favorites too!

      • Priscilla says:

        I have been watching “the Bishop’s Wife” since I was a teenager in the mid 1960’s and I think I know every line by heart! Even a bit of the film that was lost to deterioration where the professor is buying a Christmas tree and he asks Julia if she could ever imagine him as a child and she answers no. I am an old movie buff too and saw alot of these old movies during the 60’s on the “Ben Hunter Matinee” show that was on every weekday afternoon. Do you remember that show?

        • sbranch says:

          I was in the LA area growing up and that doesn’t sound familiar to me. I remember Million Dollar Movie, but I don’t remember any names of afternoon movies, although I’m sure we had them.

  62. Gala Wurdeman says:

    One of my favorite traditions is lighting the candles in the Advent wreath.
    (I feel the same way about old recipe boxes….they just seem to need a home.)

  63. Mary Ann says:

    Thank you for the tutorial on caring for our wooden boards and utensils. I have several handwritten recipes form my Grandmother and an old tin box that has no significance, I bought it from one of the neighbor kid’s fund raisers years ago. I think my recipes would love to live in a new/old wooden box. Thanks Susan.

  64. Brenda says:

    Susan, I just love reading your blog each day. I look forward to the beautiful pictures, yummy recipes and day to day adventures. It feels like home!

  65. Pamala Black says:

    Susan, I love reading your blog. It makes me feel warm snuggly…. My family started a new tradition in 2007, when my son and daughter in law bought their home. We now have Thanksgiving dinner in the home and it is lovingly and beautifully decorated for the season…..
    Keep doing “that thing you do” and I will keep enjoying and spreading the word…..Happy Holidays

  66. Shannon Carroll says:

    My favorite holiday tradition has to be opening stockings with my family in the wee hours of Christmas morning! None of us can sleep (me being the biggest kid!) so we usually start with a fire in the woodstove, hot chocolate, Nat King Cole and then we open stockings one tiny gift at a time…Savoring the moment!

  67. Marianne says:

    Thank-you for your blog. It is such a blessing. I made your Cranberry Apple Crisp this week! That’s my new Fall Tradition. My favorite holiday tradition is the sour cream coffee cake I make for our Christmas morning. I have made it since the first year Bob and I were married – 30 years ago! We put it in right before we open stockings and it’s ready to serve with coffee when we are done.
    It is the smell of Christmas!! Please, enter me in your recipe box drawing.

    • sbranch says:

      You are entered Marianne, thanks for writing! Haven’t made Cranberry apple crisp yet, but must do it asap!!

  68. Mary R says:

    My favorite family tradition was Daddy cooking on Christmas Eve. The only day he did. It was always chili and divinity. The only things he could make I think. But oh could he do them well. I wish he had written his recipes down. Thank you for the chance.

  69. Christl says:

    One of my favorite traditions- I ask everyone who gives me their recipes to please write it in their own handwriting on any old recipe card. I have many recipes from great grandparents, grandparents, friends and old neighbors to name a few. It is so charming to see their recipes, in their handwriting, and I can keep them forever—even after they are gone.

  70. Stephanie T says:

    My favorite holiday tradition is making and baking all the holiday recipes that my family looks forward to enjoying. I’m out to buy mineral oil tomorrow! Thank you, Susan.

  71. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Susan, I wanted to suggest that your trick of oiling the cutting boards and wooden spoons also works good for the wooden handles of steak knives if you are so careless or lazy as to run them through the dishwasher (not that I would ever do that–tee-hee…) 🙂 It makes them like new! Also, would you share Sarah’s recipe for the peanut brittle that she sent you?–I could use a good recipe for that, too! Thanks! 🙂

  72. Bonnie Alexander says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thanks for the wonderful tip on restoring your wood. I have a beautiful rolling pin that someone made for me years ago, and I’m oiling it tomorrow! Also love the recipe box! I’m collecting recipes right now for my daughter who just got married in September. Hope she will love her little kitchen like you do!
    Bonnie in Colorado Springs, CO

  73. Kathy J says:

    Hanging the leather lengths of sleigh bells made by my friend Sharon who is a Colorado rancher mean the holidays are near. I also have collected over many years Spode’s Christmas Tree earthenware. Through some of my late fall moves, I’ve always managed to find the Spode in time for Christmas. One year, some of my boxes were lost, and I was beside myself at having lost of all my hand made ornaments (from friend’s children, those I’d madebover the years myself) as well as the Spode. I remember just sobbing over the phone to my friend. The ornaments never were found but the Spode boxes eventually materialized under old tax returns.
    Keep up the updates. They are so cheery and I do so look forward to hearing the next installment in the Continuing Adventures of Susan and Joe.
    P.S. I hear you on the hammering noises. I, myself, was always partial to a well used tool belt.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, tool-belt man was my favorite Village People! 🙂 Everybody now . . . Y M C A ! Thank goodness you found the Spode!

  74. Andrea says:

    Hi there, pink diamond girl (and all the other diamond girls out there)! Glad to see you are nesting… I love nesting. Am I the only one who LOVES to iron sheets? Especially pillowcases… with a squirt of lavender-scented water, maybe? : )
    Now… my favorite holiday tradition involves my dad: Growing up in southwestern PA the first snowfall usually came in mid-November to late December. When I would get home from school, I would do my homework as fast as I could because I knew that after dinner, dad and I had PLANS!
    We would get into the car grinning like idiots and he would play some Christmas music on the tape player in the car. We would go shopping for my mom or my brothers or whatever. He would always ask me what I wanted for Christmas and I would always ask him. For some reason we always ended up at Sears to look at the Craftsman tools. (What is it with men and Craftsman tools?) Then we headed to our favorite Italian Market store, DeLallo’s and buy ingredients for pizzalles and baccala (and a chocolate éclair for mom!). Last and not least we would end up at Dick’s Diner for pie and hot chocolate. We would take the long way home so we could look at the colored lights our neighbors had put in their windows.
    It didn’t matter what day of the week it was, but we always did our thing the night of the first snowfall every year. Dad has been gone for almost exactly 22 years this year and every year, the night of the first snowfall I stop somewhere for pie and hot chocolate.
    I loved reading all the responses to this post, ladies. Thank you for your traditions. I hope everyone is enjoying their fall and their nests.

    • sbranch says:

      Makes tears in my eyes. The first snow is special all by itself, but this tradition would make it unforgettable!

  75. Carolyn says:

    On the week before Christmas, I love to gather with my friends, and travel around town to sing carols to those in the community who are ill or physically unable to come along with us. I also love rolling out cookie dough with my children and lining up all the sparkles, candy sprinkles, and sugar pearls we can find, to make the cheeriest Christmas cookies ever. Most of all, I love the beauty of Christmas Eve. We gather with family, neighbors, and friends for dinner where everyone is welcome and the door is open. After dinner, we caravan to church to join the children in reliving the story of Christmas in the children’s Christmas pageant. Then, we all head back to the house for dessert. So beautiful!

  76. Linda S. says:

    Susan, I LOVE your blog and Willard ! It brightens each day and season.
    Your fall cookbook is displayed on my kitchen counter on a plate stand along with 2 vintage bowls ( HALL bowls with the orange/gold/brown leaf & flower pattern on them) that I fill with fall fruits and vegetables. (I can imagine the recipe box there also).
    I started a Christmas morning tradition that both our daughters have carried on in their homes. After Christmas Eve services when everyone has quieted down I prepared our breakfast for Christmas morning—Christmas morning sticky buns in a bundt pan that rise over night on the counter, a breakfast casserole of ham,eggs, hashbrowns, cheese, dried mustard and mushroom soup that is refrigerated over night, and sliced star fruit to put on the edges of our juice glasses. With all this done the night before all you have to do is pop it in the oven and enjoy! So, now we are invited to watch our grandchildren open their presents and enjoy this yummy breakfast 🙂 at their home.
    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful recipes, art work, and traditions, I’ve shared them with family and friends and they love it all as much as I do!

    • sbranch says:

      Would look adorable with those Hall dishes!!! I can picture it! And a great make ahead breakfast idea! Thank you Linda!!

  77. Alison Eisinger says:

    This is my first post ever on your site, but I have been a fan for 20 years!! My best friend’s name is Susan, so just your name makes me think of friendship and fun times! I so enjoy reading your blog and “traveling with you” to all the fun places I can’t go. I love your excitment about all things “antique”. I love to visit antique stores as well (along with my husband) and thinking about the stories behind the objects. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, as the world prepares to “sleep” for a while. As the days get cooler and we start to think cosy thoughts, I take the time to think back to the carefree days of summer and the fun times with family. Thank you so much for giving of yourself and your time to make our days a little brighter with your vivid stories and artwork! You are wonderful!!

  78. Alison Eisinger says:

    Ooops! I comletely forgot to thank you for the opportunity to receive the recipe box. It makes me think of my grandmother and the fun times i had in the kitchen with her!

  79. Charlene says:

    Susan I just had to tell you this funny story. I have written to you before to tell you about my cousin Lynne that has a home on MV. She passed away two years ago and I have not been back to the Vineyard since. Well this past summer my family and I went for a weekend to see some of my cousins family. It poured all weekend ! But we still enjoyed ourselves very much just being together with them on your cozy island! When it was time to leave we discovered the boats were not running because of the weather but were told that the Patriot could take us! as we sat at the dock watching the boat “bob” its’s way in I started to get green at the thought of riding back to the cape on it. Needless to say we stayed another night!You are a
    very brave soul coming home on that boat ! Glad you made and are back!

    • sbranch says:

      You used the perfect word, “bob.” I’m sure on a sunny perfect day, it would be fine; and for sure, the most competent people run it, h o w e v e r . . . when the big boat isn’t running is probably not the time to reach out to the Patriot! 😉 Thanks for the laugh!

  80. Brenda says:

    My favorite holiday tradition is putting up my 3 Christmas trees especially the silver one that once belonged to my Gramma. It just puts a smile on my face. It is in a stand that plays music and twirls around. I just love it!
    Then it’s baking all the special recipes that have been passed down through the family and contimue to be passed down to my daughters and my granddaughter. Ooh, I can imagine the yummy smells coming from the holiday cooking now!

  81. Pam says:

    Ooh Susan, I love the recipe box. I have recipes on bits of paper everywhere. I have one written in my dad’s handwriting and one in my mum’s, sadly they are no longer with us so they are treasures. I have recipes my daughter did when she was in infant school, written in pencil with funny spelling mistakes, great aren’t they. We will be moving into a new home in the middle of December so Christmas will be very busy this year, but we will stick to our traditions. Pork pie for breakfast with bread and butter (an English Midlands tradition). Present opening which is supposed to be before dinner but always seems to run late. Christmas dinner which is supposed to be finished before the Queen’s speech at 3.00 pm but always runs late, then a quick walk for some exercise and fresh air followed by tea, salmon sandwiches, salad, cakes and if anyone is hungry enough for supper later, cold turkey and pickled onions!

    • sbranch says:

      They are great, my mom even saved some of my letters from when I was little, and I’ve so happy to have them. Your Christmas sounds delicious!

  82. Natalie says:

    Our favorite tradition is going to see Santa Claus “light up” downtown in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s a huge Santa display that was first lit in 1940 on the side of a building. It went into storage for a few years and is back. It’s lit the night before Thanksgiving and hundreds of people flock downtown to countdown and watch it light up!! Then you go to Coney Island Hot Dogs right next door and eat Coney dogs and drink Coke in little glass bottles. My oldest is 23 and we started the year he was born!!

  83. christine says:

    I love to learn new things and this was a good lesson for me.
    I too, collect recipe boxes and would love to win this one.

  84. Debbie says:

    Hi Susan,
    One of my favorite holiday traditions is to bake. Grandma’s recipes are the best, tried and true! I would love to store her recipes in an old recipe box like yours!
    Happy Friday 🙂

  85. Darlene says:

    Hi Susan and everyone! Such great traditions you all have shared! For me, Christmas Eve is the most special and Holy night of the year. I have been blessed to share this night with my entire family as it is the one night that we are all twenty five of us together. We share a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner, play games, laugh together and have fun! I love this time of year so very much. What has become a part of this tradition is something called the WPIX Yule Log. It has been a part of our Christma Eve’s for as long as I can remember. It is a NYC tri-state area tradition now shown only on Christmas morning but in the past was shown on the Eve as well as the morning. It began in 1966 up until 1989 when it was taken off the air but since 2001 has been brought back Christmas morning only. Luckily, one of my sister’s had taped it that last year it was shown and surprised us all with a copy so that we could continue having it as part of our tradition during the time period it was off the air. The Yule Log is a warm glowing fire with the sounds of the most beautiful Christmas music. The concept was from a man named Fred Thrower who worked for wpix and thought of the idea to share a burning fire with Christmas music for those who were not fortunate to have a fireplace. It truely is cherished by so many and the history of how it began, why it was taken away and how it was brought back and so much more is on it’s website, The Yule I have so many special memories about the Yule Log. As children, myself, three sisters and my brother would watch the Yule Log on Christmas Eve while falling asleep on my mom and dads bed all together with the excitement of knowing Santa was arriving the next morning. As I became older it was a part of our Christmas Eve dinner, there in the backround glowing and playing the familiar and most beautiful Christmas music. From the point that I have been married and have my own family, I have a special tradition of my own with the Yule Log. After the evening ends and everyone has gone home, I wrap the last of my presents and place them under the Christmas tree. I put the Yule Log on and climb into bed feeling warm and glowing inside at the thought of this most precious night. The sight of the Yule Log’s glowing flames reflect the same and while listening to the most beautiful Christma music, I gently drift off to the most peaceful sleep. As soon as I see the glowing crackling flames and hear the first few notes of Percy Faith’s rendition of “Joy to the world” I feel Christmas in my heart. Amazing how powerful a joyous past connection can be!! On Christmas morning while opening our gifts the Yule Log is again with us and as to keep it just for this special time not watched again until the next year. The Yule Log and it’s presence in all that has been what I hold dear to me about Christmas, is what sets the spark for my happy and cherished life long memories. xoxo

  86. Nicole says:

    Hi Susan,

    My favorite tradition is being in the kitchen with my mom and my grandma helping make dinner to bring to my aunts house, or whoever was having it that year. I would love to hear the stories my mom and my Nanny(grandma) would tell about their holidays when they were growing up. My great grandma would have a tamale making party and all the aunts and cousins would come together. It was magic for me to hear the those stories. My beautiful Nanny passed away a few years ago and I love to have these memories. I miss her so. I love your Blog, Susan! Thanks for being such an inspiration.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Nicole, I lost my grandma a few years ago and your memory just put a tear in my eye! Tear of love and happiness though, she was so great.

  87. Barbara says:

    Susan….how I love that wooden spoon your father made. It’s the best! I wish I had one with my name on it:)
    Listing a favorite holiday tradition is always hard because there are so many but I’ll share with you a little tradition that belongs only to me. Every Thanksgiving, after all the prep and cooking and eating and clean up, after the visiting and laughing, when the house is all quiet and everyone has collapsed from full bellies in their beds, I like to make myself a nice big leftover turkey sandwich on toast with lettuce and mayo and maybe some chips and sit down with the giant Black Friday newspaper that came earlier in the day and PLAN!! There is no peeking into that paper until then…there are too many other things to do anyway. I enjoy the quiet (and my yummy leftover cold turkey sandwich) as I check out all the holiday deals and try to decide whether I will go out at the crack of dawn and join in on the madness or sleep in and enjoy a day off from work. This takes careful planning….dinner needs to be early enough that by 10 or 11PM, I’m hungry again, but late enough that everyone else is tired. It’s a one woman show with paper and colored pens and a napkin, but nice and quiet, before the mayhem of the holidays erupts. I’ve been doing it every year for about 15 years now and highly recommend it….at least the sandwich part because really, is anything more satisfying than a real turkey sandwich leftover from the feast after a summer of burgers and dogs? I think not.

  88. Barbara K. says:

    I have followed you for years and I so love your blog. I have all your books and some of you gift items. Just gave the Mom’s to daughters cookbooks to my twins for their 34th birthday. We have a tradition (started when the girls were 1 year old) on Halloween, we always make a big pot of chili and have cornbread. This has been carried on with my daughters families and it is nice to have something carried on that you started way back when. 🙂

  89. Grace says:

    We have so many holiday traditions that we have a hard time fitting them all in! One of our favorites is reading “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. My three daughters, husband, mom, and two dogs all gather on our couches and take turns reading a page…yes, even the dogs whom, thanks to my middle daughter, have their own distinct voices! Once the story has been read everyone is allowed to go to sleep. : )

  90. Kathy Phenix says:

    Susan, That took a minute to scroll on down to leave this message. I’ve just returned home to FL from CT where I attended my mother’s funeral. Not too sad because she had a long(age 92) and good life until about 5 yrs ago when she became trapped in a world of dementia. So in many ways it is truly a blessing that she is happily being welcomed to her heavenly home by my father who preceded her in death by 33yrs. While in CT I stayed with my husband’s sister and she relayed several old Phenix family recipes to add to my recipe box. Would love to slip them into this lovely old box you are offering. Love, Kathy

  91. sarah maldonado says:

    Life is giving me a storm right now so what comes to my heart is thinking of having all of us together, that was slways the most important thing…..then we would open those English crackers with the paper hats and take turns reading our jokes. Sad to think our table might be one less…..prayers please.

  92. Cindy Berry says:

    Our little family of 26 years has a few traditions of our own – buying a themed ornament each year for each of my 3 kids is probably the most continued one- to commemorate a graduation,a religious milestone, a new pet, driving permits, Scouting, etc. When they leave home and have a house and tree of their own, they will take memories with them to add onto. Have a wonderful holiday season. Look forward to “spending” it with you.

  93. Linda says:

    Oh my, Susan. I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time–but I’ve just lurked on your blog enjoying all the wonderfulness of it and the comments from all of the other wonderful women who hang out here, too. But when I saw this wooden recipe box, I tumbled. I’ve gotta have it! It needs to come to Texas and live with me.

    Otherwise, I’m going to have to start my own search at antique shops for one of my own. (But it would be so much more fun to have yours.)

    Thanks for years of enjoying your art and your unique view of life. I love the sunny side. –Linda

  94. Cynthia Krynock says:

    Autumn….it brings out the best in you, Susan! Our traditions are what we look forward to…roasted turkey with sage dressing (my mother’s recipe…she died when I was 10, but I never forgot the taste…so when I set up housekeeping as a new bride, I experimented till I got it right….(then my aunt sent me my mom’s recipe, and it really was right!) green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy, black olives (my kids loved them so we added them to the feast!) and pumpkin pie and my dear mother-in-law’s (she is the BEST one in the whole entire world!) Thanksgiving Cake…yum! It was interesting that you are giving away a recipe box. I have one that I got as a hostess gift back in the ’70’s from a Rubbermaid home party…it no longer has a lid, the dividers are blank (my son removed them to “help” me one day) but it contains priceless recipes, so I keep it, thinking that I will get a new one sometime…whoever gets this one, will be getting a treasure….thanks for thinking of us all the way that you do…oh yes….and welcome home!

  95. Janet Conn says:

    We have many Christmas traditions, all of them very special and handed down by my parents, who are now both gone. We lost my darling mother a month ago so this Christmas will be a little difficult, but I told my precious 8 year old daughter that we will be doing all our family traditions and it is especially important this year to honor her grandparents who both loved Christmas very much. I want my daugther to grow up learning to love Christmas and other holidays the same way I learned from my parents. So, I guess our best Christmas tradition is to keep passing on our love of Christmas to the next generation. P.S. Glad you are back safe and sound in Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy the upcoming holiday season. : )

    Janet Conn
    Aliquippa, PA

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Janet, happy to be here! Very sorry about your Mom; I’m sure she would love the way you’re looking at the future for her grandaughter.♥

  96. Kristine John says:

    How I would love a little wooden recipe box to collect my favorite recipes. Your blog posts make me miss my grandmother and all I learned from her. I want to turn back the clock and record all of the precious memories I have of her in a notebook or journal so I will never forget all she taught me. I need to ensure I leave a legacy for my children. I can’t think of a better way to start than having a special box straight from your heart to my home. I would treasure such a thing forever. Thank you for your blog posts, and for sharing your heart with us so completely.
    With love,
    Kristine John

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Kristine … when you said that about your grandmother and turning back time I thought of the movie Peggy Sue Got Married . . . really good, if you haven’t seen it (even if you have!) and need something fun to watch.

  97. Rebecca Corley says:

    I love getting my old casserole dishes from the cupboard and giving them a good cleanup before they are filled with good things. I love when my grandmother comes down and helps us with the cornbread dressing. The kitchen smells heavenly!

    • sbranch says:

      Casseroles are still the best! Love Corn Pudding for one thing, and Scalloped Potatoes with Sausages! Mmmm Cornbread Dressing sounds good too! 🙂 Must be dinnertime!

  98. MaryAnn says:

    Looking at the recipe box makes me think of my mom’s. Full of recipes, obvious which were used most, some on scraps of paper, and other “stuff” tucked in, too! Kind of a history of sorts. Makes me think of when we were kids and in the Fall about now Mom would get the recipe box out and we would go through it and start thinking of what we were going to make during the holidays. There is the recipe for “Hunter’s Cake” that she got out of our local newspaper. The first step is to boil the raisins until they are plump and then add all the other ingredients, including lots of spices. She would make it every year for dad to take hunting. A family favorite! And of course there are recipes from our grandmothers, aunts and neighbors. Wish mom were still with us to look through the recipe box again. As far as choosing one tradition, it would be hard, like choosing a favorite child! They all add up to the most wonderful time of year! Whoever gets the recipe box will have treasure to begin a tradition with. I love that you have the word from the Cinderella song in yours. I must do the same! A favorite song from a favorite movie! And thank you for responding last week when I wrote about my dad and his fall. He is doing better, the stitches came out yesterday. You brighten my day!

  99. JennO says:

    Love the wooden recipe box…your personal touches make it that much sweeter. Holiday traditions mean family and the closest of friends around me. We truly love each others company and my home is filled with laughter and warmth…and memory making moments…whenever we are together.

  100. Teresa Jensen, CA says:

    Loved learning about how to care for wooden cutting boards. I have avoided them because they dry out… I know, and can start one.
    One of my favorite holiday traditions growing up was making gingerbread men with my mom. We would bake them with a hole in the top of their heads and then decorate them with frosting, candies and raisins, string them with ribbon and hang them on the tree. There would always be several with missing limbs before Christmas (just couldn’t resist). I’ve been looking for a large gingerbread man cookie cutter to start the tradition with my own daughters.

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