Christmas Things

We had the perfect December weekend. We spent it with darling people, doing Christmas things, listening to musica and baking cookies.

This is the tree cookie that my niece Eliza made.

I made butter cookie dough before they came and had it chilled and waiting in the fridge.  (I’ll put the recipe at the bottom!)

So all we had to do was roll it out.

And cut out dough boys, birds, hearts, and trees.

 That’s Eliza, age 7 on the left, and her sister Maggie, age 4 on the right.

While the cookies baked, I made Royal Icing . . . this icing, in case you’re not familiar with it, gives the candies something to stick to; the frosting hardens when it dries, which means your decorated cookies can be stacked.  If you break a cookie, this is the thing that glues it back together, it’s also what holds the walls of gingerbread houses; it’s powerful stuff.

Quick recipe . . . it’s 1½ c. powdered sugar to one egg white.  Put both in large bowl and beat 10 to 15 min. with electric mixer until soft peaks form (I tripled this recipe).  Put scoops of the white frosting in different bowls, and color each with food coloring.  Be sure to keep one of the bowls white.  (Yes, you can make this with egg white powder if you prefer, it’s a tiny bit less sticky, but it works.)

The girls made light blue, pale yellow, mint green, and pink.

We made batch after batch, they did a wonderful job!

The girls told us a joke:  Here it is:  Knock-Knock.  Who’s there?  Interrupting starfish.  As the other person begins to repeat back “Interrupting starfish who? — before they get out one syllable a small hand, fingers spread in starfish fashion, like the speed of light, clamps over your mouth, and face.  Because it’s an interrupting starfish!  Try it, we thought it was SO funny and laughed for hours, doing it over and over to each other. Family humor, always the best, always the silliest!

Maggie’s heart cookie. Love matters, joy matters, cookies matter!

 We had cocoa and pancakes with maple syrup, apples and pears, lobsters and oysters; they decorated the tree in front of our house, walked on the beach in Menemsha, did an island tour to Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, opened presents under the tree.  And then it was time to take them back to the boat. Boo Hoo Hoo.






If this is the future, if the way the parents of these two girls interact with their children is the way of the future, we are in safe hands. 

We didn’t want them to leave, but they even made that fun!  Off they go, wearing skirts from Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe!

Before they left, the girl’s parents, Corey and Jessica, swooped through our house and  hooked us up to streaming Netflix and Pandora radio.  THANK YOU!!!!  That’s all I can say.  I love how they just seem to KNOW what they are doing.  All you “kids” out there, you don’t need to spend a penny on gifts, just go hook up a baby boomer.   We will love you!!  (I mean, more!)  What a wonderful gift that was!  The children left behind lovely refrigerator art, Christmas cookies, and echoes of joyous laughter.  Our house is infinitely more blessed. 

We’ll give this to Eliza when she turns 21 — could probably give her the cookies too, they are waaaay too cute to eat!!!


You can color half the dough to twist into candy canes; roll it out for cookie-cutters; drop and powder sugar them, and they taste fabulous! The best butter cookie EVER!

  • 2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4½ c. unbleached flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°.  With an electric mixer (the hand-held kind is fine), cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks & vanilla; mix well.  Sift flour (see How to Sift Flour) and salt together & beat into butter mixture until well mixed.  When ready to bake, place cookies 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 min; but do not brown them. Remove cookies from pans while still warm, cool on waxed paper. Decorate! 

With Love from the Heart of the Home and me, Joe, Jessica, Corey, Eliza and Maggie xoxo

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273 Responses to Christmas Things

  1. Missy M says:

    That sweet parade gave me the giggles!

  2. Pamela Jo says:

    Such sweet little girls. Christmas is always best seen through the eyes of children, and it adds special joy to the season to spend time with a child. Glad you had fun! I really enjoyed the video of the girls being pulled on the luggage. Wonder if I could talk someone into pulling me around the next time I travel? Getting ready for a trip always wears me out and I could use the “down time!” The cookies look yummy! Have a great day! ~xoxo~

  3. Colleen says:

    How much fun! Looks like a great time had by all (and the parents of Eliza and Maggie too!). Wish I would have scooped up those fun Christmas plates and platter, too! Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Carol says:

    Thank you for this post…feeling less stressed now 🙂 so looking forward to baking more goodies this week! Taking time on Friday to share them with friends…so looking forward to a time of refreshment! Cookies really DO matter because they are made with love and joy! I always double those ingredients…it makes them so much sweeter! Thanks again:)

  5. Ann English says:

    Rediscovering you after some years of missing you! Oh, what a blessing to come for a visit in your charming and cozy world! I take comfort in our visits. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  6. Oh my gosh, how darling are those girls? Lit from within.

    Like you, I save all the stuff my kids have written in their original handwriting. I have a magnificent recipe for Spam Soup created by my daughter and stepson when she was 8 and he was 7. Aside from the star-ingredient Spam, it’s got carrots, celery, cream of shroom soup, and a generous amount of cheese. Even at that age, you can tell they have “foodie” parents, because the instructions end with “Heat. Enjoy.” They’re now 19 and 18–she’s a university sophomore, and he’s graduating from Marine Corps boot camp in 8 days. Where did that time go? It was right here a second ago and now it’s gone! One day, I will copy all of their wonderful handwritten treasures and make books for them.

  7. Susan; what precious little girls and 4 and 7 doesn’t look like it did when I was a child?? I just want to say your rolling pin is exactly like the one my Grandmother left me and it reminded me to get it and bring to our new place. The artwork reminded me of some that I have kept over the years from my daughter (now 24) and I will always cherish them. The girls did a great job on decorating their cookies and I’m sure they enjoyed eating and tasting the icing. I want to also say how much we enjoy Pandora on our TV and like magic you just put in an artist that you love and there they are just singing…Wonderful and you are so right a great gift from your family. Thanks for sharing looks like another magical memory for you.

    • I just finished reading all the comments after I sent in my comment above; I am so excited because one girlfriend told us that the Turner Channel will be running The Bishop’s Wife on Friday at 8pm so I exclaim to my hubby Jim “DO WE GET THE TURNER CHANNEL” I think he almost dropped his coffee mug….poor dear man…he’s getting the remote and sure enough there it was and now it is going to be taped!!! Finally, I will see the entire movie and now be in the “club” with all of you who love this film. It doesn’t take much at this point in my life to give me some joy…just a quick comment on Jack and his lack of interest in the girls…NOW he knows how his sister Girl feels about him!!!! haha we have one kitty that hides when anyone comes here and the boy cat Smokee (a lover) just knows that they came to see him and wants to lay on everyone’s shoes?? don’t ask we have no idea his interest in people’s are so right it is just CATS…GOTTA LOVE THEM!!! So excited about the movie…ok I’m done for today have a great Tuesday!!!

  8. What a wonderful, happy, and memorable time you’ve all had! Such lovely girls. Royal Icing is my icing of choice (after buttercream on sponges) and Christmas isn’t Christmas without a rich fruit cake with a thick layer of marzipan sealing the cake underneath a liberal covering of Royal icing ‘snow’ . .
    This post also reminded me of my dear, late friend in Virginia. For weeks before Christmas she would bake and bake and bake, dozens and dozens of batches of thousands of cookies, all frozen. A few days before Christmas they were all defrosted and a mamoth decorating session began. Christmas Eve she would give everyone in her family and the neighbourhood a lovely tin filled with all the scrummyummylicious cookies she had made with love. That is what it is all about. Nadolig Llawen Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Tell me what Nadolig Llawen means, and can you write it phonetically so I could say it correctly? Please? 🙂

      • Nadolig Llawen is Happy Christmas in Welsh (literally Christmas Full as we often phrase backwards in Welsh)
        Pronunciations is something like:
        na-Doll-ig (as in pig) HLA-wen (as in hen)
        For the Ll sound, which is difficult to explain, try putting your tongue flat in the cleft behind your top front teeth and blow gently.
        In Wales, we have the longest place name in the UK (possibly the world) with
        which translates to
        Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave

        • sbranch says:

          That is the most wonderful name I’ve ever heard!!! I want to go there!

          • The name is so long that the plate on the tiny train station platform that serves the village is longer than the platform itself! While you are there, keep and eye out for William and Katherine, for Llanfair PG (as it is called) is on the beautiful isle of Anglesey where they currently live!

          • sbranch says:

            You are making me cry with those names of far away people and places!

  9. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    What precious Christmas angels you have! Besides loving all the beautiful plates, mugs, decorating ideas, etc… I LOVE THE FACT THAT YOU LET THE GIRLS MAKE A MESS WHEN BAKING! When our grandkids come over for baking and craft day at Nana’s its a total mess from one end of the kitchen all the way through the diningroom! Who cares – its only flour and sugar. Look at those smiles! They are so proud to create such delicious art! The love and memory that is forever in their hearts and souls out weigh the inconvenience of a “mess”!!! Once again, Susan, you have shown us what is really important and how to turn a simple task into an exciting adventure that all of us “kids” can enjoy <3

    • sbranch says:

      They could swing from the chandelier if it was OK with their mom is the way I think! Luckily it isn’t! But it’s definitely someone else’s job to tell them how to behave and my job to just love them and say “you are wonderful!” (Love my job.)

  10. Carol Lichwala (gramz) says:

    How cute your nieces are. I am so jealous…LOL! My adorable nieces are in Texas.
    I love the parade to the ferry. What a wonderful weekend you had.
    Now I have to go and make cookies and act like a little kid again decorating them.

  11. Pam says:

    Glad you had a good weekend. I would have loved to join in with the cookie making. Not sure mine would have been up to that standard though!!

  12. pat addison says:

    hello and good morning again Susan and everyone. just popped in to let you know that AMC is running white christmas with bing crosby, danny kaye, rosemary clooney and mary wickes, and dean jagger all this week every night, twice. can never get too much of a great classic. hugs everyone….. 🙂

  13. Nelle Evans says:

    Reminded me of cookie making with my grandchildren. I feel like I was there with you. Christmas blessings to all of you.

  14. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Big happy sigh, and teary eyes. What a great time you had this weekend. I am so happy for you and Joe (and the kittie kids, of course!). Family is so special. I don’t family but I have the most amazing friends in the world (and the kittie kids, of course!). Can’t wait to see who visits you next!! Have a great Tuesday evening, girls!!

  15. Gloria Groza says:

    Loved the cookie making! This is just what I needed! I had to go the Emergency Room and have my appendix removed early Saturday morning:( So my plans for cookie making have been way-laid. So fun to watch the fun happenings at your house, since mine will have to be delayed. The girls did a great job and I know they made lots of good memories along the way! Our daughter, Lisa and Son-in-Law Rick will be coming Friday. We were going to cancel, but they want to come anyway! They are going to do the cooking and we’ll have fun anyway. Plan B might be even better! Loved the plates – are they for sale? Haven’t seen those before. Thank you soooooooo much for sharing your fun times! I had fun too! Love, Gloria in Nevada, Texas:)

  16. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    Susan – I have a question about the spicy pecans. Do I need to store them in the fridge? I have been because of the butter but was wondering if I really needed to – Our family loves them – I can’t keep them around! I just keep making more and more and they are sooooo good in salads. Costco has huge bags of them and they are pretty darned good.

  17. Lisa R says:

    One of my favorite sayings is, “Grandma’s are just antique little girls”….and I say that goes for Aunties too!! You can tell by your beautiful pictures and words your heart was so full of joy!! So glad you had a fun, memorable weekend….and then shared it all with us! ……..about the heart of the home cookie cutter (maybe someone already shared this, so busy I don’t get to read through all the comments, darn it!)…anyway, I have a house cutter almost just like yours, add a small heart, and there you go. I will be doing this on Monday when our cookie decorating begins. 3 little girls, and 2 little boys, can’t wait! Again Susan, thank you for all of your wonderful ideas!

  18. Judy Etsios says:


    The cookies and the girls are adorable! Do you sell the cookie cutter with the “heart of the home”?

    • sbranch says:

      No, that was just a prototype I designed for a company that was subsequently sold — so the things I designed for them were never made!

      • Vicki in Virginia says:

        What a darned shame! And those adorable platters! Please try to find another manufacturer and sell on your website! So, so adorably you! Froliche Weinachten!

    • Judy Etsios says:

      So sorry to hear that! Please let us know if it ever gets manufactured. How handy is Joe with a welder?

  19. Marty says:

    Those cookie platters are to die for! I wish there was a way of getting my hands on them! 🙁

  20. Where can I find that wonderful copper heart in the home cookie cutter?

  21. miriam westover says:

    Hard to top al the comments/sentiments about your Blog, except to say that everything you do and say is SO LOVELY! I agree regarding the “cookie” platters and house cutter…….there HAS to be a way to get them made for Susan Branch!! I can guarantee you would have a hard time keeping them in stock!! 😉 I want several!! My daughter-in-law & I have been your fans for years….we wouldn’t be able to keep track of the days of the years w/o your calendars!! You are loved & appreciated!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so nice Miriam . . . I feel so lucky because people do comment . . . otherwise I would feel very lonely on the other side of this screen! But I LOVE the connection to everyone . . . thanks for writing! And hello to your daughter-in-law!

  22. Jennie Lavezzo says:

    Such fun! Such beautiful little girls! Thank you, it was fun to read and felt like I was right there with you.

  23. Georgie says:

    What sweet wonderful nieces!!! And what a fun weekend of lifetime memories!

    Maggie’s sweet heart cookie just lept off the page (as did her incredibly cute face). IThe cookie looks JUST LIKE YOUR HEART NECKLACE!!!! I love that necklace!

    Wouldn’t it be fun to give the necklace as gifts on Mother’s Day along with a plate of those sugar cookies decorated the same way!!! Precious!

    Georgie from NJ

  24. Cheyenne Renard says:

    Id love to know if you sell the christmas plates the square one and the smaller one for cookies or what ever def christmas plates. Do you sell them . i adore the fur babies so glad u and joe and the gang have them love to you and your Cheyenne still here in Henderson Nevada. Love and miss you just started getting Willard , so thrilled to catch up on those love u Sue n Joe and Happy Birthday to Joe since its Aug 24 Friday today and many more BDs now that he is 60 he has to stay at that age im 24 x3 no just kiddn just almost 58

  25. Georgie says:

    Oh! What a FUN parade and what PRECIOUS children! Isn’t it wonderful to turn an ordinary day into someething special 🙂 That’s the stuff memories are made of!!!

    THanks for making somany days SPECIAL!
    xoxo Georgie
    Yardville, NJ

  26. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Loved revisiting this blog with the darling little girls! Another thing about the cookie recipe, is that the aroma is so good it practically sent me to the moon! xo

  27. Joan Lesmeister says:

    I’m here in the dark & you’re in the light & it’s so fun to be chatting with you across the good ole USofA! I’m sitting here sipping my coffee (that my husband brought me – it’s the little things…) & trying to recover from this blog, and its darlingness, thinking of the years of cookie making with my family – it’s all so precious isn’t it?!! ♥

    • sbranch says:

      Stay right where you are and do a little bit more dreaming!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        :)…thank you, I did! Now I’m off to wrap some BFF’s gifts for a day of fun & frolic & sewing (or chatting, eating, laughing, etc)! Have a wonderful day & weekend! xoxo

  28. Mary Ann says:

    I joined the parade with my coffee this AM. And copied out the recipe to make with my Grandaughter Annika on Monday. we will be baking that day and I am always looking for a good cut cookie recipe. I love this season so much, all the bustle and family, friends, food and laughter. Thanks for sharing your good times!

  29. Diane Harris says:

    There is nothing better than little girls with hair bows and flouncy skirts, making cookies and giggling in the kitchen! My little girls are 26 and 23 and those memories are the best! You were blessed to have the house filled with twirling and children laughing and squealing! It truly makes it more Christmas y!

    Thanks for sharing these sweet moments of your day!


    Diane Marie

  30. Sue Miller says:

    This is what the Holidays mean…love and laughter and hearts bursting <3

  31. Pingback: A Month of Cookies – Day 30 | A Month of Something

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