Making Fairyland

The first thing you must do,” said the fairy, “is go back into the sitting room and find my magic wand.  I’m useless without it.” ♥   H. E. Todd

Of course, the first thing we need is little trees among the Beatrix Potter People.  

While we’re decorating, one of the most magical movies ever made, The Bishop’s Wife, is on TV, and THIS is just one tiny part of it . . . (If you haven’t seen it, you might want to watch this, then play it again and come back here — it’s the perfect background noise for this post as it was for tree decorating!)

One of the nicest discoveries I made when I moved to New England was the concept of the attic.  No attics in the houses I grew up in, but here, every old house has one . . . that’s where all our decorations are kept, box loads that Joe brings down the narrow attic stairs, where kitty promptly builds a home.

Lately, Jack is running around with this red pom pom in his mouth, making him my very favorite decoration!  And PS, basically, he is not attacking the tree! Every so often he will smack at a low hanging ornament, but so far, that’s really all!!!  Fingers crossed.

Out of the boxes come our stockings, hung with care . . . and every day we open another little door on the Advent Calendar sent to us by our girlfriend Siobhan in England.

This old stocking is from Joe’s childhood; it belonged to the pets in their household.  It’s hard to read, but all those crossed out places are pet names; up close you can see them:  Inky, Trisket, Puddikins, Nosey, Georgia, and Susie.  Probably our most valuable Christmas decoration; definitely the most loved, should be insured by Lloyds of London!

We have Old St. Nicolas, in his everyday hat, looking a lot like Heidi’s Grandfather.

Not only did we choose this house because it had a good place for the Christmas tree, but, you may have noticed, I secretly decorate for Christmas year round.  From the wallpaper, to wall paint, to choosing the slipcover fabric … whenever I put something in my house, I say, “Yes, but how will it look at Christmas time?”

My summer hurricane lamp is appleified and turned into Christmas candlelight.

And speaking of apples . . . my absolute favorite dessert this time of year has a festive wreath of fresh cranberries and crunchy top — the recipe’s in my Autumn Book; I know many of you have made it, but I can’t rest in life until everyone has!   So here we go, this recipe serves six (it’s easy to cut it down and make it for two or even for one, especially for one).  The smells of apples and cinnamon fill your house (an invisible but very wonderful Christmas decoration), when you open your oven to pull out this bowl of Christmas cheer, you fall in love with yourself; in love with the whole world.

Cranberry Apple Crisp

  • 4 lg. green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2″
  • 1 c. fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. old fashioned Quaker oats
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 c. softened butter

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Butter a baking dish, approx 9 x 9.  Place apple slices and 3/4 of the cranberries in the dish.  Mix remaining ingredients well (use fingers to get butter into other ingredients) and sprinkle over the apples.  Use the rest of the cranberries to decorate the top.  Bake 30 minutes.  Serve hot with ice cream, or cold with whipped cream.   xoxo

While it bakes, I rearrange the shelf on my stove, which is now fully decked with this tiny creche to go with the miniature house and little tree.

And hang a Christmas hand towel in the guest bathroom.

And then it’s time to decorate the tree!

. . . Light the fire, and Joe starts bringing down decorations. We decided to use both colored lights and white twinkle lights this year. I threw blankets over the furniture to kind of protect it from the boxes of decorations, which always end up lining the back of the sofa.

The chief only thing always on Jack’s mind is PLAY. When do we play next; let’s play now; how about now; could we please play now; what do you mean you have to work; I need to play NOW.  If I tell him to go play by himself, he knocks all my papers off my desk. I’m getting nothing done.  Except bonding with this little cat. ♥  But look, wouldn’t you?  He’s so excited when he sees me coming to play, it’s all worth it!

And now, there it is, our tree, all dressed up, waiting for a snow storm, waiting for Dean to sing Marshmallow World, waiting for Santa.

It’s covered with all our favorite old ornaments; this little paper angel with her gold curls, the delicate glass icicles and gold bead garlands, the rocking horse I bought across from the old Mission in San Luis Obispo in the 1970’s, the red glass hearts tied with ribbon, the pink glitter moon, and white pine cones that fit over the twinkle lights and send off the most wonderful glow.  On top of the tree, like every year, is our golden angel.

All our memories of Christmas gone by come tumbling out of these boxes.

And then of course, as always, I go outside to see the tree through the windows, but the moon, looking down over this small island, says, LOOK AT ME, I’m the MOST beautiful …

 The little peek through the curtains makes me think, “who must be the cozy people who live inside this house?”

Back in to put another log on the fire, which is simply another opportunity to PLAY.

I think we’ll be getting used to this; the weatherman says today is our last day of 55 degrees, he said to “get ready,” because all that cold everyone is feeling in the Midwest, is coming our way!  We are ready!  We’ve brought in wood, the bird feeders are filled to the brim, we have acorn squash, potatoes, onions and good chicken stock; there are clean sheets and heavy down comforters on all the beds; we have family coming this weekend including four and seven-year-old nieces who should be cozy in the Peter Rabbit room, and their darling parents; there’s cookie dough chilling in the fridge, ready to be rolled out and cut into shapes.  I can’t wait until the girls see Jack!

♥          ♥           ♥

I already know you girls are doing pretty much the same thing, making magic in your own houses. Have a wonderful day! xoxo

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378 Responses to Making Fairyland

  1. Laura Croyle says:

    Ok, now I’ll have to look for a copy of “The Bishop’s Wife”. I’ve never seen it, but enjoyed the little clip from it. Nothing compares to some of those old movies! Really enjoyed seeing your house get all decked out for Christmas with Jack in the middle of it all, curious about Everything! Our kitty found a much much smaller puff ball to play with as a kitten and has played with them ever since! (She’s 14 now!) Your Jack is a real charmer and sure to melt your nieces hearts at first glance!

  2. Rosemary says:

    Can we talk? What I love about your house….everything! Your tree is just my style and we have always used the colored lights…the old, dangerous ones and I have lobbied to use the white twinkle lights but been soundly outvoted. THIS year, think I will use your recipe…twinkle and colored! And, the tree reflected in the mirror is so beautiful…and RED, lots of red (year round for me, too). Love the thought of the little ones sleeping in the Peter Rabbit room, snuggled down in. It is magic, I am telling you. I could just pop! And the bird trees from yesterday’s(?) blog. There is a story I used to read to my second graders about 30 years ago called THE BIRD TREE and it was such a sweet book…do not know if it is available any more.
    Will be looking up THE BISHOP’s WIFE as I have never seen it.
    Thanks for Willard and every post. Yes, lots of !!! and …. I use way too many dots for emphasis!!…
    Happy Day!

  3. Laurie says:

    I listened to a radio station that plays Christmas music my whole drive down to the Cape this afternoon. I’ll have to wait until my husband comes down tomorrow to put the tree up, but it’s out on the deck enjoying the good soaking from the rain. Don’t tell him I bought two 40 foot extension cords from Ocean State Job Lot this afternoon so I could put lights on the little pine tree in the far corner of our yard! I just needed to see some Christmas lights on SOMETHING!!

    And I brought my coarse salt to make a little winter-scape with tea lights!! What a good idea!!!! You help put me in the Christmas spirit!


  4. Gill says:

    What a gorgeous entry – made me glow inside. I’ve never seen The Bishop’s Wife, so now it’s gone straight on my wish list. Thank you for giving us all so much pleasure. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  5. Christine Anderson says:

    Love the decorating!!! Our tree goes up this Saturday! Can’t wait.

    Thanks for sharing, as I sit here smiling and truly feeling Christmas surround me!

  6. Susan L says:

    Your house is magic! I can not wait to see your blogs…..Jack makes me laugh so! I have a “kitten” she’s about 1 1/2 years, but Tempe just loved helping put up the tree this year! She was cautious at first, but after she figured it out, up she went, straight to the top and poked her head out the branches! I love the tole tray on your table! It reminds me of one my Mom had while we were growing up and now I want to find it! There are always some kind of memory that your blogs will jog! Stay warm when the snow blows in!
    Hugs and kisses!

  7. Danielle says:

    Hi Susan,
    Love, love, love your tree!!! It’s so FAT and beautiful. All your decorations look amazing – so cozy and homey. We are putting our tree up this weekend and I can hardly wait. Also, thank you for the clip of The Bishop’s Wife. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, it’s still magical every time. Carey Grant can teach me to skate anytime. They don’t make them like that anymore, do they?

    Danielle : )

  8. Jan from Michigan says:

    Your decorating is magical! Thank you so much for sharing your blessed life with us. I love all the decorating ideas and I am ready to get my tree up. I wish we still cut down the real trees but have had artifical the last 10 years. I miss the smell and you are so right about the cold air coming off the tree! Jack & Girl are so beautiful (and very lucky kitties!) In my next life I want to come back as a kitty and be adopted by you and Joe!

  9. Patsy says:

    I saw that recipe in the Autumn book and made it on Sunday for my Mom’s 94th birthday. She absolutely loved it…..knew she would. It was yummy. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful dishes.

  10. Just Cats says:

    Susan your home is so sweet, so inviting. I love your tree and that Jack is ‘all that!’
    Your blog is such a joy to visit. I am commenting with one finger as I have a sleeping kitten across my left arm recuperating from a vaccine. Hugs, Deb

  11. Vicki says:

    Oh, I do love The Bishop’s Wife! Cary Grant and Loretta Young and of course David Niven is a favorite too! I love nostalgia!
    Watched Charlie Brown Christmas last night with granddaughter Julia while we baked sugar cookies and she decorated them with cookie frosting–quite the little eleven year old cookie artist! She cut out such cute shapes– an owl, a star, a tree and best of all the copper Welsh Corgi cutter that had just come in the mail! Her Christmas gift last year was a corgi named “Max”!

  12. Jeanette says:

    Thanks for letting us peak inside your cozy home–yours is what I strive for mine to be, homey with all the touches of things I have made and collected over the years. Your home is just magical! Reading your blog is just like connecting with a good friend–thank you for sharing!

  13. Nellie says:

    Love, love, love this post! It really gives us all a wonderful “dose” of the Christmas spirit! Our tree has multicolored lights on it, too!

    I’ve been busy doing some shopping, and progress on the decorating front is going rather slowly. That is where I need to get busy next!

    Jack just gives things an extra level of fun! He’s certainly a cutie!


  14. Janet says:

    The house looks JUST LOVELY, Susan – and your account of decorating for Christmas has TOTALLY got me in the mood – even though I had originally vowed to keep everything pared down and really simple this year. Just fresh evergreens, crimson [not red] velvet bows, white candles of all sizes, nuts and candies in bowls, cranberries tucked it among the greens and a few other must-haves such as my childhood stocking… which I’m happy to say I’ve had with me every Christmas since my first at age 5 months. Very kinda “Amish” – tis a gift to be simple. Oh well – it’s Christmas and like that song in “Auntie Mame” – We Need a Little Christmas This Year! Wish I had a Jack at my house to “help.” He is TOO CUTE – I just love his little white kitten mittens.
    A few questions IF you have time. 1 – Did I spot a Longaberger basket on your Thanksgiving table? 2 – Are you addicted to them? I am – 29 and counting! 3 – Does the snow last on the Vineyard? I’ve heard from friends that it snows on the Cape and Islands but usually melts away really fast [a day or so]. But your pictures sure look as though the snow sticks around when it comes.
    PS – loved your cranberry sauce and you are so right – couldn’t be easier to make. Well, thanks, take care & have a wonderful holiday season!

    PS –

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I love to make little scenes with them . . . I have a few of the small ones tucked around, perfect for the top of my stove and on my pantry shelves . . . but you’ve probably noticed how into vintage I am…so most of my baskets are old.

      Mostly the snow will last around 3 days, but the way the weather is these days, it’s isn’t consistent. One year it’s a whiteout around here, and the next year, nothing. This entire December we’ve had almost 60 degrees every day. That never happens, so it’s a hard question to answer.

      Glad the cranberry sauce was a success . . . be sure to try mixing it half and half with orange marmalade sometime, soooo good!!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        I’ll second that re the mix of “Susan Branch Cranberries” and orange marmalade! We LOVE it on toastedEnglish muffins!!!

  15. Tamar Weaver says:


    I know you must get this question much, so I am sorry for requesting that you repeat yourself butt……how can I get ahold of a stove like yours? Would you mind telling us what it is called and what year? How did you find it? We are about to move and I will have to buy a new stove anyway so…why not buy one I truly love? Unless it costs an insane amount of money which I know most of the reproductions do.

    The decor you have on the face of your fireplace is really original and beautiful. It took me years to teach myself that it dosent matter if something is “in style” or not. If it is beautiful to me….that’s all that matters. I love being 41.

    Be YOU tiful!

    • sbranch says:

      And guess what, it gets even better. Braver. 🙂

      I got my stove from a place on Melrose in Los Angeles called, the perfect name, Stove Heaven. It’s an O’Keefe and Merritt, and I think it’s about 1956. My mom had the exact same one when I was growing up, so I just wanted what she had. They are so wonderful, heavy and strong and don’t take up near as much space as some of the new ones. It has a shelf you can decorate. For that alone it’s worth it. 🙂

  16. Kathy R says:

    The Bishops Wife is one of my most favorite movies to watch at Christmas! I have always loved Loretta Young and used to watch her TV show when I was a kid (I’m dating myself here) and wanted to grow up to be just as lovely as her.
    Thank you for all of the photos of your Christmas House. It makes me all warm inside. I told my husband I wanted to live in your house and he asked me, “don’t you think she would mind?”. You inspire me to make my home as cozy as possible for my family. Thank you!

  17. All the little touches make Christmas time so lovely; so special. I’m getting at mine, little by little (minus the cat). I recently bought a little tree with a switch to turn on the changing coloured lights inside. As the colours change, the light shines and sparkles on the glitter floating inside this clear tree. It delights me as much now as it would have when I was five.

  18. DonnaRay says:

    Hello Cozy Person who lives in that adorably homey house,
    Loved seeing your tree. I watched The Bishop’s Wife on Sunday, also. Love TCM! Have you seen the recent version with Denzel Washington…….good, but not wonderful Carey Grant, but does any man even come close? And, I love Loretta Young…….does anyone remember how she made such a lovely entrance through the double french doors at the beginning of her TV show……. or, am I dating myself? Jack, Jack, Jack! Your little nieces are going to squeal. They will be in kitty heaven. Jack will probably be wearing doll clothes before the weekend is over! When I was a child I lost one of my favorite doll nightgowns when our barn cat finally had enough of playing house and ran off only to return days later gownless. Happy ohhing and ahhing as you walk past the tree and discover it’s beauty all over again. DonnaRay

  19. Lisa R says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely post Susan. The Beatrix Potter people, little Jack running around, the dishes, the roaring fire, and that big, beautiful tree! What’s not to love!! I even love the stack of logs! Your posts are gifts, that we all unwrap layer by layer, and ooh and ahh over. Thanks again, Susan! And by the way, I think an American Girl doll would look really cute sitting under your tree. ☺ Us girls are never too old for dolls!

    • sbranch says:

      Believe me, I stop myself from getting them. I gave my mom a baby doll a couple of Christmas’s ago, because, being the mom of eight, I thought she might enjoy holding this adorable real-sized, real-feeling baby. I thought this gift could go either way, maybe she would like it, and maybe she would look at me like I was crazy. It was in a big special doll box, under the tree; watching her open it was so exciting. Her eyes got as wide as a four year old’s when she pulled back the tissue! She LOVED it. She even got more clothes for it. Named him. Her girlfriends ask to baby sit him when she goes away! The only reason I don’t get dolls for myself is because I would definitely end up with a house full of dolls! I already have a house full of too much right now!!! I love dolls.

      • Lori says:

        So glad to hear that you love dolls too! It just doesn’t seem like Christmas without a doll or teddy bear under the tree. By the way, I saw on the news that the snow may be coming your way. Enjoy!

      • Lisa R says:

        I LOVE it Susan, that you gave your mom a doll!! How sweet is that! Such a cute, cute story. And that her girlfriends want to babysit! That would be my girlfriends too. I am down to one American Girl in my house. My girls have taken them as they’ve moved out. I’m really thinking when “Kirsten” leaves, I will HAVE to get one, or two of my own. By the way, guess what I’m sewing for Christmas for my 6 year old granddaughter?….Clothes for her Molly doll! With 4 granddaughters, I don’t think our world will ever be without these dolls!! Yay for me!

        • sbranch says:

          Yay for you is right! A way to have your cake and eat it too!! 🙂 My mom sewed clothes for my dolls and I will love her forever for doing it!!! (Come to think of it, she probably loved it even more than me!)

  20. jennifer says:

    Hi Susan.
    I’ve just settled down for the night after spending the last several hours rearranging my house to fit the Christmas tree in it’s corner. (how does that always happen??? or is it just me?)
    Tomorrow morning I decorate. And now you know, during and after all that rearranging and decorating….it’s cleaning time too. But when it’s all done… spirit is so so happy. 🙂
    Love the stocking for pets. Reading the names…..I had a ‘Nosey’ too. 🙂
    He was black and white….and on his back was a large black spot in the shape of a saddle. I still miss him.
    Goodness, for a late night I am rattling on.
    Thanks for all the Christmas inspiration!!

  21. CindyK says:

    Your house is soooo Christmasy now! Very pretty and cozy! Cute little Jack always makes me smile and laugh out loud! We have 3 cats currently, but they are all grown. It’s so fun when one of them temporarily forgets they aren’t kittens anymore, and starts to play! They grow up so fast. Your little Jack makes me want another kitty, but hubby says “isn’t 3 enough?????” 🙂 I love all your decorations!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, Girl Kitty just doesn’t play very much any more, although every so often a spark of her kitten-self shows up! Love it when that happens. Thanks Cindy!

      • Doreen Strain says:

        Girl kitty is up stairs laying on your bed Susan saying to herself ” Boy, that Jack is such a show-off! That Chirstmas Tree climbing thing is so over rated…been there done that Jackie Boy! I’m rather spend my time up here on the bed getting my beauty sleep. Oh…and BTW…that tree is keeping you from disturbing my nap! “. ~ Doreen ~

  22. Stephanie says:

    I DVR’d “The Bishop’s Wife” this weekend on TCM – and will watch it this weekend with some tea after I put up my tree! I’ve never seen it – but Cary Grant is delicious – can’t wait and thanks for the movie tip!

    This blog is just the BEST EVER. I read it twice today and it makes me so happy. Your tree is STUNNING! Jack’s red toy is perfection. Now you have family with little girls coming to share in all the Christmas joy? What could be better? It will be a wonderland for them! Enjoy!

  23. sondra fox says:

    I keep thinking that you & I have sooooo much in common that we are really good friends. I feel like I did when I had a pen pal, (around nine years old), sharing feelings, ideas, & general friendship. Jack is just too, too cute. We also have a Jack, but he’s a Wire Haired Terrior. His interest in play is similar to your Jack’s interest. Your Christmas house is marvelous. What wonderful pictures, although I kept wondering where Girl Kitty was. Merry, merry Christmas. Sondra

    • sbranch says:

      She’s on our bed, in the lap of luxury. She doesn’t have quite the interest in play as Jack does. Wouldn’t our two Jacks make a Pair? Danger! Have a wonderful day Sondra!

  24. Tamsen says:

    That’s funny about mixing your lights because I did too! Even my daughter noticed and said “both”? (w/a cute head tilt) It just always seemed like it was an unofficial one or the other, right? I have an old house but no fire place (huh?)- yes, I know…there is a spot for a woodstove….it’s on my someday list. Thanks for inspiring me ( all of us actually) to keep dreaming that up!

    • sbranch says:

      My house in California doesn’t have one either. . . but that’s just sometimes the way the cookie crumbles! My first house on the island didn’t have one, after a few years I was able to put one in — it does happen! Keep dreaming Tamsen!

  25. Charlene Hisayasu says:

    I may not comment each time, but I soak up EACH of your blog postings. I just LOVE your expressive writing, your delightful photos, and your warm invitations into your home and artistic life. TOTALLY LOVE IT. ‘Nuff said. <3

  26. I can remember our “Big” tree as a child always had the large colored lights (no minatures) and the bubble lights….do they still make the large lights for outdoors maybe? I was in a store recently and saw some bubble lights which was a blast from my past. This is my first Christmas living in the city and a community and the people with lights on their homes leave them on all night? I just find that unusual because in the country no one would see that you had them on. I had a sleepless night and was up at 4am and did enjoy seeing the bright lights on. Pearl Harbor Day (70 yrs.) God Bless Our Veterans!

    • sbranch says:

      How interesting, the contrast! Yes, God Bless Our Veterans!! My dad wasn’t there for Pearl Harbor, but he was stationed there, a Navy flyer.

      • My Dad (91) was home on leave when Pearl Harbor happened, and this summer when he came home to go on an Honor Flight for WWII Veterans to Washington, DC with my daughter as his guardian he revealed to her that he felt like a failure not being there? I found that so sad, he was part of the Berlin Airlift and while in Washington so many came up to all the Vets to thank them for their service. My Dad was in the Air Force for 20 years…..if anyone has a family member who is a Veteran please have them look into going on an Honor Flight it is 100% free for the Vets and their Guardians pay a fee so they can continue this for years to come. They are about done with the WWII Vets because they are passing away at a rate of a 1,000 a day and they will work down to each group of Veterans I do believe the Korean Vets are next. They take them to visit memorials especially their own, my Dad got to see the WWII Memorial and the Air Force and he will never forget the experience. I know this doesn’t pertain to Christmas; but I thought it was fitting because of today. There is a website ( for anyone interested in looking into this program for a friend or family member. Thanks

  27. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Your house is beautiful!

    Our cat loves to play with red pompoms too! He carries them around in his mouth, drops them and bats them around. We have to keep a supply of them because he drops them in his water bowl and they get all wet. Or he chews on them and they get all yucky.

    Have a wonderful day!

  28. Kay says:

    Dear Susan,

    I LOVE coming to your blog. It’s like a slice of happy each time I visit. Thank you for your reminders of how lovely life at home can be.

  29. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Mornin’! My friends llllloved the warm, Cranberry Apple Crisp I served at our meeting last night! Thank you for the delicious recipe! xo Joan

  30. Sandra says:

    Love those cheerful Christmas stockings; how AAAdorable!

  31. Juliana says:

    Thank you Susan for inspiring me today with your warm, wonderful blog! (Not that I’m not always inspired by you!!) It’s warm and rainy here and not at all Christmas-like for December. Funny how you mentioned that you think about decorating for Christmas year round, my son came home from college and saw new slipcovers on our furniture and said “Do you just always think about how things will look at Christmas when you pick stuff out?” I guess we do. I also love “The Bishop’s Wife”, as many other girls have said, those old movies are the best! My husband tries to find a new one to add to our collection every year. “Christmas in Connecticut” is one of my old favorites, with Barbara Stanwyck. Too cute! Enjoy your time spent with family, I’m sure you will help make wonderful memories for all those at your cozy home!

  32. Pollyanna Leggett says:

    Dear Susan,
    You have mentioned The Bishop’s Wife so many times on your blog or website or Willards. So I planned on watching it for ages, and finally made it happen last night. I cant believe I have gone through my whole life (39 years of it) and never watched that!! My husband, 6 year old daughter and I sat all cozied up together just entranced. One of my favorites is Miracle on 34th Street and I aLways watch it every Christmas….now we have another to add! Thank you for planting the seed, it truly blessed my little family! You are such a bright light!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours! Pollyanna:):):):)

    • sbranch says:

      Love your name! SO happy you saw that magical movie! Have you seen Christmas in Connecticut? Oh yes, with Barbara Stanwyck. If you haven’t, that should be next. xoxo

      • Pollyanna Leggett says:

        Speaking of names….my very own mom’s name is Suzee Branch! And you 2 were born on the same magic elf planet. Its uncanny how similar you are. my step father got her your Christmas recipe book years ago because he couldnt believe the same name thing, but also if my mother had ever written a cook book, it would have been very near what you created! She is ,in fact, writing a book about the 60’s through her eyes and the incredible journey it took her on. You should check out her website. She is just a newbie at the whole ” blog ” thing, but I think it would tickle you to meet her?!?! And maybe see what I mean! I love that you take the time to write us all back. Just blogging must take up your whole day! However do you find the time to do everything else!!!!!!!! I know! I Said it myself! You ARE magic!! Like Santa!! Xoxoxo Pollyanna

        • sbranch says:

          What I like most about your spirited mom is that she named you Pollyanna! Not very many people have done that. . . shows her spritely heart. xoxo

          • Pollyanna Leggett says:

            Thank you for liking my name. That doesnt surprize me at all! Although It took me until about 3 years ago to like it! most people just give me this pitying look when I introduce myself…but I have learned to embrace it and live out the meaning of it the best I can! Im off to practice our annual Christmas play. My mom and I, along with a few special “chosen” friends or husbands (much to their chagrin, but also willing lovely men!) entertain 28 people or so every year at my Moms huge sit down Christmas dinner party! Its usually a play we write. They are silly to the max, but also really fun and everyone looks forward to finding out how the crazy Blues Sisters are saving Christmas this year! I thought I would share this little note with you as I know you love to hear what us girlfriends are out here doing with ourselves! Have a fabulous day in your awesome Christmassy love nest! 🙂 Pollyanna

          • sbranch says:

            Thanks again Pollyanna!

  33. Terry says:

    Hello Susan,
    Your tree is just beautiful and your home is all cozy and charming! I am looking forward to trying the cranberry and apple crisp recipe! Mmmm… I can’t wait to taste it and have that wonderful smell floating through our house!
    Have a blessed day and a wondeful visit with your family!
    Terry from Maryland

  34. Barbara (WA) says:

    Jack isn’t going to know what hit him when two little girls show up ~ and he’ll be even more adored for sure! I love the pet stocking from Joe’s childhood, so darling with the names crossed out. Question: are your couch and chairs wearing slip covers? The reason I ask is that their shape looks so similar to mine which are upholstered in blue and have wood trim. I wasn’t sure slip covers would work on arched backed furniture so now I am curious about yours. Thank you for all the joy you share with us. And I love reading as many comments from the girlfriends as I can.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, those are slipcovers on the sofa and matching chair, but not the yellow flowered wing chairs. I really think slipcover people are so great, they can figure out how to do anything!

  35. Margot says:

    Thank you for the wallpaper of the girl with presents. Thanks for the cranberry apple crisp recipe. I am working hard in the kitchen today. You have inspired me to dig out my Christmas books. I have one old Charles Dickens book that was my mom’s when she was a young girl.
    I hope we get a dusting of snow down here.

  36. Patricia Wehner says:

    I absolutely LOVE all your decorations, and those precious little black and white furry decorations are the cutest ever!! This time of year is my favorite – it’s finally cool here in Texas and it’s a hot tea, quilt snuggling, sparkling fire, moon glowing, vanilla candle, candy cane munching time of year!!! I’m so blessed to have all of my grandmothers’ (both) and mom’s quilts to dream under!! Hugs coming your way!!

  37. Sarah Anne says:

    Here in Little Rock (AR) we woke up to snow this morning…a white fluffy frosting on everything! What a wonderful surprise! Christmas is definitely in the air here. Bailey is posted at the kitchen window keeping his eyes on the birds and squirrels at the feeders. That’s his job and he takes it VERY seriously…as do Jack and Girl Kitty I’m sure! Have a cozy Wednesday all my friends out there!

    • sbranch says:

      You too! I’m off to our downtown where my girlfriend Martha is doing a gingerbread-house-making demonstration!

  38. Aggie says:

    Thank you for your Christmas decorating inspiration! You got me fired up to dig through a lot of old stuff I left stored. Now I realize I am missing an old book of Christmas carols….got to find it to add to my other Christmas books. Thanks for the recipe and love the Jack pics.

  39. “The Bishop’s Wife” is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies (just watched it last week) – right up there with “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Bells of St Mary’s”. Old Christmas movies just give me the warm fuzzies. 🙂

    And OMG, I thought I was the only one who secretly considered Christmas in the year-round decor! Early in our married life, I once chose a more expensive, further-from-work apartment because it had parquet floors and forest green carpet, rather than an apartment with grey berber throughout (which wouldn’t go with my decorations at all). Hubby thought I was crazy when I explained my reasoning, hehe.

    Jack is just the cutest!! There’s nothing more adorable than a kitten at Christmas. We adopted our third kitty Guinevere (a long haired tortoiseshell) last November, and it made the holidays even more special…

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
    ♥ Carolee

  40. Hi Susan! It is amazing how much Girl Kitty and Jack resemble each other … maybe two reunited siblings! Oh my…hard to know where to begin when commenting, everything is just so beautiful. I am liking your idea of using both colored lights and the twinkling white ones, too. The tree turned out beautifully and your house so warm and inviting. Yesterday I was reading something and saw the “feel good” phrase used, so many treasures in your home reek of a Christmasy “feel good” feeling ♥

  41. Lynn says:

    I just love your pictures of Jack. Your posts always make me smile. You home looks lovely – so warm and inviting. This is such a special time of the year and it is fun to enjoy it with all your wonderful ideas. I found a couple of fun books that were my Mom’s – 1917 & 1929 – Altemus’ Peter Rabbit Series (his Christmas) by Duff Graham and Jack Frost Arrives at Butternut Hill by Harrison Cady. Can’t wait to share with my grandchildren – better than leaving them in a bookcase. So many of my decorations bring back family memories adn I am always sad to put them away – – but then there is another year.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes and when you love them, there’s a good chance they will love them too! We need all the book lovers we can get! 🙂

  42. Diane says:

    There is so much I want to comment on that I dont even know where to begin…I hope I can remember it all! lol. First of all, your home looks so beautiful….very casual-elegant, which is my favorite “style” of all. Your tree is picture perfect , and in the perfect setting! Everything looks so cosy and inviting and lovely….and so clean and neat and tidy! I also ADORE the pics of Jack….he is just too cute for words, and he looks so happy. I never get tired of your pics with him in them….very entertaining! I also laughed hard at the way you phrase things sometimes, and it especially cracked me up about the pic of “Heidi’s Grandfather”….if anyone has ever seen the movie with the actor who actually does resemble your pic, they would totally crack up over it too. lol. It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful time with some special people and I hope you have a lot of fun!

  43. Diane says:

    I forgot to mention the stockings! I loved them! Did you make them or find them somewhere?…they are very unique and lovely. I was very blessed because my Grandmother hand-made and decorated mine and my daughter’s. My husband has one that an old friend made him….only she accidently sewed it so that the reindeer is upside down. We also have stockings for our cats, Prince and Muffin and we hang them every year with a pkg of tuna in them! lol. Everyone in a family needs a stocking for Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      I have had those stockings forever. I don’t remember where I got them, but I didn’t make them. I still have the stocking my mom made for me, that hangs on the post of the bed.

  44. Robin Smith says:

    Beautiful decorations!! We also have white and multi-colored fairy lights on our tree this year! And we also had a mixture of sleet and snow this morning; the boys had a wonderful time waiting for the bus and trying to catch a taste on their tongues – sweet babies! We are wishing for a snow that actually sticks during the Christmas season; even though we live in the deep south we sometimes get enough snow to even build a snowman 🙂

    Happy decorating and baking!!


  45. Doreen Strain says:

    Hi Sue…I saw your picture of Jack with the red pom pom in his mouth and had to laugh. Our Kitty likes to run around with a “binky” in his mouth…oh, some people call them know…a pacifier! Yup, ten years ago my first grandson was walking around with it hanging down in his little hand and Kitty grabbed it from him and from then on..if a child enters our house with one….he doesn’t leave with it. Kitty will steal it and he loves to chew off the rubber end of the binky itself. Then he’ll run around with the thing in his mouth and it looks so silly seeing a cat with a pacifier in its mouth. I should really take a picutre some day when I catch him doing it. He loves to throw it up in the air and run after it..when he tires out…he lays down and just holds it in his mouth. Too funny! Happy your having fun decorating. I’m going to have to make more of your Wreath Cookies…took some to work and they were gobbled up. They really are cute should try them, there in Susan’s Christmas Joy book! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  46. Barbara Belcher says:

    Good Afternoon:
    I LOVE your stockings, so charming. Well, your entire house is charming … why don’t you make the stockings and have them for sale I would buy two! 🙂
    (One of each.) I am trying to buy all the Peter Rabbit decorations you have in your window, I do not know where to begin … 🙂 The Bishop’s Wife is one of my favorite old movies as well. I also enjoy “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
    Have a great day, your tree is beautiful, you have a gift that most people do not.
    Take care and keep up all your wonderful, charming work.

  47. Lori H. says:

    The photo of your living room and tree all done is magazine worthy…wow!

    Love the Beatrix Potter characters….our nursery was Beatrix Potter and each of our 4 girls has their own character. At our baby shower, my cousin gave us the Beatrix Potter lamp of Peter and his sisters reading in Mother Rabbit’s lap…adorable!

    I also have collected heart shaped rocks for many years 🙂

    And our china is Johnson Bro’s Rose Chintz which shows up on your blog every so often!

    It’s that sisters-of-the-heart thing 🙂

  48. julie says:

    thank you for the willard and the cookie jar full of treats 🙂
    i want to come to your house and play and snuggle by the fire 🙂
    happy, happy holidays 🙂

  49. Tina says:

    I’m partial to tuxedo and black kitties (I have a sweet tuxedo and an all-black bundle of love and an opinionated calico), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a cute nose on a cat before. Jack is so adorable! The first Christmas we had our all-black Georgie, he would nap at the top of the Christmas tree. Of course all the branches at the top drooped and ornaments fell off, but it was so funny that we never objected, just made sure to tie the tree to the wall with string and thumbtacks. Now he just knocks all the ornaments at the bottom off and sleeps on the tree skirt.

  50. tracy says:

    oh the Bishop’s Wife! … required watching in my house every year (i’ve got my own copy :-)) along with other Christmas favorites we must watch: Holiday Inn, Pocketful of Miracles, White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut, It’s a Wonderful Life, Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s (i could go on…) – wonderful accompaniment for decorating and wrapping gifts.
    I love how you share your home on your blog. Thank you so very much!

  51. Linda Wattier says:

    As I,m reading your blog I can,t believe how this is the first year I,ve added the clear lights with my old fashioned colored lights. I just had to stop and look at my tree! I,ve never seen the Bishop’s Wife. Will have to see if I can get it. Your tree looks great. The warmth is felt like magic. Thanks and blessings to you.

  52. Lynn McMahon says:

    Hi Susan~
    I got my Willard today. You are too clever my dear! Cookie recipes in a cookie jar
    I especially love the Christmas Nut Cookie dialogue from your grandma… Maybe should say just for “Christmas nuts”! Just plain nuts maybe??? Like me!
    xoxo Lynn

  53. Pamela Jo says:

    Sure looks like Jack is enjoying the holiday season! Love Joe’s pet stocking. Very sentimental and sweet. No wonder it’s a favorite! Raining like mad here tonight, so I’m going to enjoy a cozy evening of reading. A friend just gave me Barbara Sinatra’s autobiography. Can’t wait to start the book and it’s a perfect night for staying in to do just that. Thank you for sharing all of the photos. Puts me in a festive mood!

  54. Judy Mattson says:

    Susan, I had bookmarked your Cranberry Apple Crisp recipe a few days ago and bought the ingredients, reading your posts made me get on the ball. I just took it out of the over and can’t wait to it to cool a bit to have some, you’re welcome to a piece too! TY

  55. Holly says:

    Hello everybody! Someone sent me the cutest Christmas ad. It’s from Brooks Brothers and contains one of my favorite creatures — sheep!
    The ad reminded me of when my children were very little and I read a lot & told them stories. One was about all of God’s creatures being able to sing praises on Christmas eve. It was their very favorite Christmas story, and they always waited up to hear the cats, goats and sheep sing. But sadly, they always fell asleep, but perhaps had dreams of vocal animals, because they had tales of singing cats inn the morning. I miss those days, but have proof now that sheep can sing! 🙂
    Susan, thank you for the wonderful cookie recipes. I just bought my cookie tins for gifting cookies, so now I’m ready to bake.
    p.s. –the picture of Jack on the back of a chair with the red pom-pom in his mouth is priceless. You must paint him like that! He is adorable.

  56. maybaby says:

    Oh goodness, I feel like I was there helping you decorate! Our tree is still in the back yard, having been picked out at our favorite tree farm a few days ago in the Midwestern cold-hoping to decorate it tomorrow while we drink cocoa and watch Charlie Brown. Loved seeing your tree, and adore your sweet new kitty. Our ancient cat is over 20 and no longer likes to play, but he sure likes to cuddle.

  57. Cynthia Krynock says:

    Reading this just now, and one day late, was just what I needed…yep! It has been some day…thank you Susan, for sharing this….makes me feel better just reading it!


  58. Betsy Brunette (and guess what....I am blonde!) says:

    When our days feel crowded and a bit frazzled, it is such a comfort to peek into your life and heave a sigh because you remind us how to get to the heart of home. I share your blog with a few of my girlfriends and they are now glad to be receiving your wonderful and creative letters.
    How did you and Joe meet? Was it love at first sight…..he sure picked a goody when he found you! Glad you are both able to have focus on so many of the simple joys in life.
    Merry Christmas! You are a blessing to all.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s such a fun story, I’m going to put it in a book someday . . . but really, I was the lucky one! 🙂

  59. Mary says:

    I just love Jack! I can see that he’s a real stinker! Your house is so beautiful and warm. Oh my gosh, the stocking from Joe’s childhood….those kinds of things are what makes putting up the tree and decorating so much more special. I love that you still have a traditional tree with the ornaments that you have collected through the years. I still do that too, and have to go up the narrow stairway to the attic to get them!
    I’m going to be announcing a Susan Branch giveaway on my blog soon, since I’m obsessed with your calendars, I thought it would be fun to let someone else start out the new year with one too!

  60. Aggie says:

    Hi Susan – question for you. I spotted next to your fireplace a small wooden table which looks to be holding a large book – dictionary maybe. I believe I spotted something similar recently at a local resale shop. They are calling it a desk. It has an edge at the top of the flat piece, a shelf underneath and an opening in front so that you could slide a chair in. Is it possible to see a larger picture of yours?

  61. Karen says:

    Your house looks so cozy….. lovely! Enjoy the holidays!

  62. Thank You for the Cookie Jar I just received mine this morning…I knew it was coming from all the “girlfriends”…very nice of you to do that for us (love the recipes in the jar)…all the comments can really bring back memories….does anyone remember the video about the Barnyard Animals talking it was a Christmas Video?? I’m sure it is packed away and it was a VHS (now there is an antique)….I have my fudge ingredients purchased and will make it next week, now trying to figure out which cookies to make….I have a recipe that my daughter mentioned this week (hint..hint) they are called Angel Pillows and have a choice of apricot, peach, or pineapple preserves (in cookie and icing) and I think pineapple sounds good this year? They are a nutty base and then have a butter icing topped with coconut. Double recipe for sure otherwise all the effort just not worth only 1 doz. Hope everyone is taking time out of your busy schedules to just sit back, breathe, and enjoy the Season and all your hard work of decorating. Is there anything better on a cold Winter evening or early morning with the tree lights aglow (which makes the dimly lit room look so special) to just sit and take it all in? I have always loved how the lights make a shadow of the tree/wreath branches on the ceiling/walls!!! Enjoy!

    • Susan, I read earlier from a “girlfriend” where The Bishop’s Wife could be watched on so I went there and watched some clips and just know I will love this movie…I saw the skating rink portion and the movie has the same feel as Wonderful Life? It is sad to think the actors are no longer with us; but, because of movies they will always be remembered…I also agree they don’t make movies/actors like they once did…no computer imaging just talent! Thank you for info. and allowing me to see a glimpse of this movie.

  63. Jolene says:

    I am a fan of old movies, especially Christmas movies..however….(clearing my throat)….I am a BIGGER fan of Denzel Washington and I think “The Preacher’s Wife” is an equal substitute, if any of the Girlfriends can’t find “The Bishop’s Wife”…just my 2 cents 🙂 But, what I really wanted to ask is….If someone is not a fan of cranberries…would they still enjoy the Cranberry Apple Crisp recipe? It looks sooooooo pretty and festive, I’d like to try making it. Any opinions are happily welcomed. PS: Another movie I love this time of year but can hardly ever find on TV is “Christmas In Connecticut” with Barbara Stanwyck….Ohhh she was so beautiful! Have a festive day Susan & all the Girlfriends! <3

    • sbranch says:

      You can make it without the Cranberries! I think you wouldn’t know they were in there really, and they do make it look pretty.

  64. Margot says:

    What a fantastic idea for an email!!! I love Willard’s cookie jar. I have been looking up cookie recipes. I hope to make Ginger Crisp Hearts for my Hunny. 🙂

  65. Lori C. says:

    Your home is so wonderfully warm and inviting! Just lovely!
    Susan, I have a question about the beautiful black chair (by your desk) – do you know much about it?
    I have a set of 4 chairs that are very similar – I know the owner purchased them from an antique shop and that they originally came from England but that is all – (I got them at a garage sale). The two front legs look like a folded up umbrella and the cut out insert in the back of the chair is oval with carved flowers in it – very art deco, but overall it has the same swayed front and back legs. I was excited to see your chairs, as I haven’t seen pictures of your chairs or mine anywhere before.

    • sbranch says:

      Next to the table with the framed picture of Santa on it? If that’s the one, it’s not black, just dark wood. I got mine at an auction too — sorry, I think I’m no help — I don’t know very much about them.

  66. Joan says:

    Ummmm – are you still going to print the “Onion Casserole” recipe?
    Thank you!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Soon! 🙂 I do like you to remind me!

      • Joan says:

        I didn’t want to nag, but with all you have going on, thought perhaps it slipped your ????mind???? – LOL. I realize you don’t just sit around all day drinking tea and eating crumpets – hee hee.

        • sbranch says:

          You’re not a nag, it’ll fit in a blog one of these days, maybe after Christmas . . . I do drink tea and eat crumpets all day though! 🙂

  67. Gumbo Lily says:

    Your Cranberry Apple Crisp is one of our family’s favorite desserts, topped with fresh-whipped cream. YUM! Hubs and I just watched The Bishop’s wife last week. A good ol’ movie.

    Happy Elving!

  68. Angie says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I love the color green and I notice you have a particularly lovely shade of green
    on your walls. Not too minty and not lime-y! Can you (or do you mind?) telling me what the name of your paint is?
    Merry Christmas and Blessings to you and Joe (and Girl Kitty and Jack) 🙂

  69. Mary says:

    I think I’m comment #375, so I don’t think you’ll ever see this, but I wanted to say that I love your tree, it’s beautiful! I also use colored and white lights on my tree, I’ve been doing it since I was 27! I love the look! It reminds me of being a young girl!

    Have a happy weekend!

  70. sondra fox says:

    I thought for certain that you’d have a picture of your nieces playing with Jack. Were your cats hiding while your nieces were visiting? Sondra

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