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. Giovanna says:

    Good Morning Susan,
    I need to run off to work, but wanted to quickly tell you I am leaving with a smile in my heart due to this post! I love the quote about Family Faces are Magic Mirrors. I count my blessings that I have some many wonderful faces in my family.
    God bless you today and always,

  2. Oh what a lovely time you had. And they did an excellent job on those cookies. The girls are SO cute.
    And that was the most adorable parade I’ve ever seen. *wink*
    Have a beautiful day Susan!

  3. Country Gal says:

    Wonderful post and photos ! Arent they such pretty girls. Looks like all had so much fun ! Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful day !

  4. Connie Michael says:

    What gorgeous, sweet little girls!!! Kids make it all worth while – Happy week to you! 🙂

  5. Cindy Garner says:

    What a wonderful blessing …. to be a positive influence in the next generation.
    I fear that the wonderfulness of creating and being creative will get lost in the techno….need now….texting generation….
    Good for you for encouraging delight in things like baking, walking and decorating an outdoor tree, and teaching the value of visiting with an “older” generation ( not to imply that you and Joe are “the” older)…….oh and don’t forget the endless amount of icing sugar they applied….LOL

    be blessed

    p.s. so far no success with “the Bishops wife”….our local video store does not carry it…..I will have to wait and see if it comes on satellite…..:0(

    • sbranch says:

      You could order it on Amazon if you wanted. You would get your money’s worth because you will want to watch it ever year for the rest of your life, at least!!

      • Cindy Garner says:

        Maybe I should put it on my “Dear Santa” list….LOL

        • Ann Y. says:

          Yes, DO ! We had it on VHS and just upgraded to DVD and I shared my DVD with a friend. Have you tried your local public library….they are treasure troves for these old movies. But if you buy it, Susan is right – you will watch it every year. We just did last night….it is PERFECT !

    • Giovanna says:

      It is worthy of being added to your video library! I watched it the other night and it is sweet, funny and inspiring. Happy Holidays!

    • Stephanie says:

      My library has it – so check yours. Also – if you have cable the “Turner Classic Movie” channel (TCM) ran it last Sunday morning and I DVR’d it. I’m sure they’ll run it again before Christmas – so see if you have that channel.

    • Vicki says:

      Try Family Video, they have everything!

  6. Ann Y. says:

    Looks like you had the perfect weekend – the girls are adorable ! Got bunches of Christmas sprirt just reading your post and can’t wait to make my cookies. Just had to day LOVED your comment about gifts for boomers being to hook something up….a younger neigbor stopped by on Saturday and hooked up a wireless network in our home ( we were dinosaurs!) and like you said…they just know ! Now Santa is free to bring tech gifts if he so desires ! Thanks for sharing your wonderful weekend….

  7. Linda Trokey says:

    What a great time for all of you! They’re lucky to have you and Joe in their lives and I know you feel blessed to have them in your’s. I must confess though – my eyes lingered on those beautiful SB platters. So special and fun – what a gift you have for life and I thank you again for sharing them. I have my butter cookie dough chilling in the fridge and will cut them out with my grandchildren tomorrow night – if we don’t eat all the dough.


    Linda T

  8. Philippa says:

    Time spent with the children makes for the happiest and longest lasting memories…on both sides. They both look really pretty.

    I love all your cookie plates.

  9. Mary Cunningham says:

    What wonderful nieces…so cute..I still have the cookie my daughter Jackie created one Christmas at my niece Kim’s house…it was a big messy cookie decorating party…so fun! Love Burl Ives too! So glad that you have treasures to come spend time with you and sprinkle delight all around your life! What a wonderful Aunt you are!

  10. Melissa says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful visit! Those girls are too cute!

    I am so happy they “hooked you up” to Pandora. It has THE greatest Christmas music!! All you have to do is seach for “Christmas Carols” and voila it makes you your very own Chrismas music station. Possibly the best music station ever 😉 Me and my kiddos listen to it all day long (just discovered it this year, oh what I have been missing) and really love it.

    Well enjoy your new found technology 🙂 Have a happy Monday!

    Love, Melissa

  11. Kristen says:

    Weekends spent with children at Christmastime are priceless!!! 🙂 I had almost the same weekend fun with my son and husband! Thanks so much for sharing such a sweet weekend story! 🙂

  12. Joan Lesmeister says:

    I Love a Parade! So darling! Young people are amazing, and so are their younger people! I’m happy that you had that wonderful family with you for the weekend (& I love all 4’s names). You sure crammed a lot of fun in, in a short time! And Jack & GK must be resting! The girls will love seeing themselves & their works of art on this blog! Thank you, a happy, happy day & love from the heart of this home too!!!! (!! never can have enough!!) xo

  13. Diane Byrum says:

    What a wonderful weekend! Beautiful girls and I’m sure their hugs kept your warm! You are blessed and a blessing, Susan. Thank you for blessing all your girlfriends, too! Carpe diem 🙂

  14. jeannine leonard says:

    So glad you had a wonderful weekend, isn’t it fun to have girls around? Thanks for the royal icing recipe! My girlfriend and I are having our own baking day tomorrow. Baking is alot more fun with a friend. Have a great day on this very chilly one.

  15. Pamela Jewett says:

    Hi Susan,

    You brightened my day with todays blog. Our family always enjoyed making cookie cutouts at Christmastime. Sometimes we invited neighborhood children to join in. Such fun.
    Have a wonderful Christmas!
    Until next time,

  16. Sarah Maldonado says:

    There’s nothing like children’s laughter and creativity to bring that extra magic to Christmas! Those cookies and plates of smeared frosting reminded me of the little gingerbread houses my students and I made together in years gone by. Lovely memories. Those little girls were so lucky to have your home to visit! I’m sure they felt so special all weekend and will cherish that memory when they are grown.

  17. Karen P says:

    What a beautiful little family. The girls are precious. They will LOVE to see this blog with their beautiful Christmasy cookie creations and gorgeous sweet smiling faces. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Isn’t the Christmas season just the BEST!!!??? Have a wonderful week.

  18. Gert says:

    Dear Susan,

    Oh, what a wonderful post! Love,love,love those sweet little girls! What an amazing time you must have had! Making memories is the best part isn’t it?

    Blessings dear friend!

  19. What precious little girls to enjoy spending time with! How sweet and cute they are and the cookie baking time. I will remember the joke and share it with my grandchildren whom I will be visiting for a few days this week. 🙂
    Have a glorious week! The countdown to Christmas is ticking away, lots to do, and fun to be enjoyed. There’s no time of year like these days before Christmas!

  20. I love that heart of the home cookie cutter. Did you make it yourself? I collect cookie cutters and have several from when I was a small child. It is so much fun. And your blog is such a delight. I tell all of my friends to check it out. It is so real and warm and cozy. Not perfectly produced like someone we know with the initals MS. 🙂 Just real. I love real. And beautiful.

    Your faithful fan since like forever.

    • sbranch says:

      “Since like forever” — I love your command of the English language, it’s just like mine! I designed a whole line of kitchen things for a manufacturer at one time, and this was one of the products they went ahead and made. The company was sold and the kitchen things never made it to the market, but I got to keep this Heart of the Home cookie cutter!

  21. Carol Hesch says:


  22. Trish K says:

    Wow! How blessed you all are to get to spend a weekend together like that. I was thinking when they grow up, how that will be such a cherished memory! Do we remain little girls inside forever? I hope so.

  23. Lori says:

    Don’t know which is sweeter – the cookies or the helpers!

  24. cecelia says:

    Adorable little girls!! Reminds me of my two girls (now in their 30s) when they were little.

  25. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Morning~
    Looks like you had a great weekend! Only snow ( so you could make snow angels ) could have made it better!? Cookie making & making snow angels are a few of my favorite things to do with my kids ( now grown) & now my grandkids! I love looking at their little pink noses & rubbing their little cold hands while they drink their hot cocoa after playing outside.~ Pure bliss~ Hoping for a White Christmas~
    Happy Monday Girlfriends~

  26. Margot says:

    What delicious fun! I miss my sons so much, and your blog has really helped my empty nest syndrome. 🙁 One day I realized that I can still make cookies for my sons. I just have to ship the treats! Some days I think I didn’t get to do enough with them, because time went by so quickly. I know that I did put my heart into our home. Where did you get the house and heart cookie cutter?

    Have a great day!

    • sbranch says:

      I designed that for a company that was sold before the products were ever made. This was the prototype for the Heart of the Home cookie cutter . . . the only one, I’m sorry to say. Because it’s cute! I think people would love it!

      • Margot says:

        I think people would love it too. I saw a copper set in just outside of Exeter, NH about 10 years ago with a house and a heart OR a hand and a heart. I thought I bought it, but I can’t find it. Maybe you could try again to have it made. It looks sturdy too.

        PS I never got your blog today, so I just looked it up on your website.

  27. They have the cutest smiling, pixie faces! What sweeties they are, and how good you are to have them over for such fun times.

  28. Linda H says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful family weekend! The photos of the girls and their cookies brought many smiles to me this morning! It is a good example of what’s truly important during this season of rushing around with our shopping and other errands.

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe!

  29. Gail says:

    Dear Susan,
    What a lovely posting! Children are truly an essential part of Christmas, aren’t they? They make the holiday so magical!

    The cutout cookies bring back childhood memories of my sister and I baking with my Mom. I still have all of her cookie cutters and used them to make cookies with my own children when they were growing up.

    Christmas is fast approaching. Enjoy every moment of this lovely month. Merry Christmas Blessings to you and all the girlfriends out there! Lots of Love, Gail

  30. Claudia says:

    The girls are so beautiful! Making Christmas cookies is magical – they will always remember making cookies at your house.

    And now I’m hungry!


  31. Sara says:

    Those girls are precious! That is what we did this weekend as well, we baked lots and lots and lots of cookies! It is good for the soul 🙂 I think my kids will love the starfish joke. I will have to use that one after dinner tonight!

  32. Priscilla says:

    What fun you created for those darling little nieces. This will be a memory they will have all of their lives. They are blessed to have a wonderful Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe. And I know it was fun for you too!

    • Priscilla says:

      P.S. I LOVE “Harvey” starring Jimmy Stewart. I think Jimmy Stewart was quoted as saying it was his favorite movie.

    • sbranch says:

      Probably more for us than for them! We loved it!

      • Priscilla says:

        I have a question. Made your Christmas Steamed Pudding for my bookclub last Friday and it was a big hit! I have left over Hard Sauce I want to use again at Christmas. I have it stored in a tupperware in the refrigerator. Would it be better to wrap it in plastic wrap put it back it the tupperware and then freeze it????

        • sbranch says:

          Good question, I’ve never frozen it. Today I would take a couple of tablespoons full and freeze it. Let it thaw and see what happens. I think it should be fine in the fridge…eggs keep, probably the cream had a nice long date on it? The butter will keep, it all should last until Christmas without freezing.

  33. Patricia Wehner says:

    All too precious!! That’s what Christmas is all about – homemade LOVE!! And I also love those precious cookie plates! Did you do those? They’re darling – look like something you would make!!

    • sbranch says:

      I did, you probably read by now, I designed them for a company that only made a few of them, and then the company was sold and everything came to a halt.

      • Patricia Wehner says:

        Shame on that company! They’re precious – their loss (and ours – we girlfriends would love to have them and the cookie cutter!)! Hope Jack and Girl Kitty are getting excited about Christmas – my little Buckley (Beagle) is!! They know how to add sparkle to any holiday 🙂

  34. Nellie says:

    Such fun you had! Memories to treasure for a lifetime!

    I’m happy to let you know that we share the very same cookie plates! Wonder how THAT happened?!?!:-)

    Off to bake a Red Velvet Cake today for a gathering of retired teachers tomorrow. Everyone else is bringing salads, and I get to bring the “reward.”:-)

    Sending along lots of hugs and wishes for a wonderful day!


  35. Kathy in Illinois says:

    What a wonderful, Christmasy day you had! Such sweet nieces too!
    God bless, Kathy in Illinois

  36. Barbara (WA) says:


  37. Gigi says:

    So much fun! Can’t wait to go out west next week to spend time with my littles doing Christmassy crafts & cookie making. And isn’t Pandora the greatest?! Steve Tyrell is my favorite station at the moment — lots of good upbeat standards that I think you would like.
    Merry Christmas!

  38. Deb Surman says:

    Good Morning Susan! You are really going to enjoy Pandora! A great Christmas mix is The Carpenters, you’ll get their Christmas music plus similar, like Bing, Perry, Frank, Ella…it’s wonderful. Another favorite mix is Beatles, OMG it’s so nice to listen to and it’s commercial free!

  39. Priscilla says:

    Good Morning Susan … do you still sell the Cookie Plates? … I fell in love with them at first sight this morning! I did look under “Shopping” although could not find them. Happy Holidays!

    • sbranch says:

      That was a product I designed years ago for a company that was sold very soon thereafter. Only a few of those plates were ever actually made.

      • Sweet Mormor says:

        Maybe doing something similar in the future for cookie and serving plates?!? I would even think a hole set of dishes either Christmas or non-holiday designed would be LOVED by your fans! I can see my Christmas “Susan Branch” table now…sigh……:-)

  40. Kathy Phenix says:

    I loved the cookie baking pics. They brought back loads of great memories of “helping” my Aunt Mo make cookies and pies etc. We lived next door so it happened frequently but we didn’t have the excitement of going back and forth via ferry! Speaking of ferries–your video of the trip to the ferry is priceless. As adults (young ones!) my sister and I would go to Nantucket for summer vacation and before suitcases came with wheels (what a marvelous invention) we had a wheeled contraption that you could strap your suitcase to. We used this to get from ferry to guesthouse and I always felt like I was walking a dog. We took to calling this carrier “Tag”, as in ‘me and my dog,Tag!!’ Another example of family humor?? Thanks for the smile to start an otherwise gloomy Monday. (We’ve had rain for 3 days in Central Florida.) Merry Christmas. Kathy

  41. pat addison says:

    good morning Susan, good morning everyone!!! what a wonderful and fun weekend baking cookies with your nieces and decorating the tree outside and just having fun, wonderful reminds me of when i was little and my cousin came over for the weekend and we baked gingerbread men together. the cookies came out great but my cousin made the bluest blue icing ever seen and when we iced the cookies and showed them to mom and grandma…they got sick…didn’t help that they both had the flu. but the sight of that blue icing really made them sick. didn’t bother us, we just ate them and took plates of them to the neighbors and left some for the mailman and the milkman. we also did sugar cookies but nothing like our blue gingerbread men. we still get together and bake cookies, but every now and then we do a batch of blue gingerbread men for giggles. busy day here. have a wonderful day today. Merry christmas Susan. Merry Christmas everyone. happy baking!!! hugs… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Baking . . . I think we had some very blue cookies at our house too — this time we went really easy on the food coloring!

      • pat addison says:

        these gingerbread men were really blue, looking back i can see how it made them both so sick, but like i said having the flu didn’t help any. it was a fun time we had baking and decorating, even if mom and grandma turned green. LOL!!! hugs….. 🙂

  42. Glenda says:


    What a wonderful visit! I love the GT quote too, of course, and your cute cookie serving dishes. How did I miss those? I so enjoyed you making cookies and your story of “saving” them until they are 21. Iced sugar cookies are just my favorites..I have made them and have friends, who know I love them that give them to me for gifts. I know how much work they are so when I get them, I just can’t eat them right away. Sometimes they get upset with me, but laugh and we move on. One friend made little snowflakes for Christmas. They were like a box of gold jewelry to me. I saved them (in my freezer for almost a year). I called her one day and told her I had just eaten several and how really really good they were! 🙂 Such had fun of making them too. I have made them with my girls and my grandchildren. With them gone, one year my husband and I tried to make them as gifts for our neighbors. When we got through we had a lot to eat that weren’t so cute and were unpresentable to give as gifts….our snowmen looked as if we had murdered them as their black buttons “smeared” on their snowy white bodies. 🙂 We had a lot of fun though. I am sure you have just made some lifetime memories for some very cute little girls! It is such a let down though when they leave isn’t it? But oh the peace and quiet can be nice too. 🙂 Hope Jack and Girl Kitty made it ok…..

  43. Nina says:

    O Sue they are to cute! Loved the little parade! Looks like you had great fun thanks again for shareing it made me smile! xx

  44. Jacquelyn Wirthlin says:

    A magical Christmas weekend! Certainly fun to have little ones around to help handle the “heavy lifting” with cut-out cookies, lots of frosting and things to make the cookies beautiful. As an aging baby boomer with very little “tech savy ability” (that’s what grown-up sons are for, right), it is great to have Pandora, etc., available. Thanks for more inspiration as I head into the kitchen for a day of baking and fun. Christmas greetings, Susan, and all the Girlfriends.

  45. Rosanne says:

    Your nieces are adorable Christmas angels. We have our own little 4-year-old angel granddaughter arriving to spend the week with us – her parents too, but they are second-tier now.;) I love your idea of making the cookie dough ahead of time because really, when you’re 4, it’s all about the sprinkles. I bought a gingerbread kit for us (I’m not as clever as your girlfriend, Martha), construction paper and Christmas stickers, there’s a little tree in the dining room ready for our Kaitlyn to decorate with her own creations. New Christmas memories to make together! Thank you for your always-wonderful posts. “Hearts can inspire other hearts with their fire.” You inspire so many hearts! Joy to the world, joy to you, Susan, and Merry Christmas!

  46. debbie says:

    Hi Susan! There is entirely too much cuteness in this post!!! I can hardly stand it!! The girls!!!! The cookies!!! The cookie plates (are they still available??) And the sweet parents getting you and Joe hooked up to Pandora and Netflix. Isn’t Pandora THE best??? Thanks for sharing in all of your FUN!!! 🙂

  47. peg says:

    OK! I will take one of those darling ‘Heart of the Home’ cookie cutters, please! Loved the blog, Sue…..always a treat just when I need it! xoxo

  48. Deborah says:

    Perfection comes in imperfect packages.
    Thank you for sharing, what a lovely time, and a forever memory you made for the girls. Love the skirts~

  49. CindyK says:

    How sweet is that! I think I was smiling the entire time (and I TOOK my time) I read your post! Sweet little girls, doing what sweet little girls do best, making cookies and all the fun sweet things! Sounds like a really fun week-end! Thanks for the smile Susan! Just what I needed to start my day! 🙂

  50. Shana says:

    Oh, how I wish I could have traveled like that as a child…it looks so fun…lol…

  51. zinnia patch says:

    good afternoon susan….. i’m smiling from ear to ear….. what a sweet week-end and oh i would have loved to be in that parade!!!! just tooo cute! thanks for sharing!

  52. Nellie says:

    After reading some of the comments, I find I must have been VERY lucky to find my cookie plates! I also have that “Countdown to Christmas” with the little blocks that are to be changed each day as we “count down” to the 25th! They are on 13 today! I was also able to purchase some Christmas-designed mugs at the same time. My favorite is the one with the Santa face on it.:-) The date imprinted on these items is 2003. I have always treasured them, but now even more so.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I was surprised because hardly anyone has them! Those blocks and mugs came out at the same time, and were on the market for about 5 minutes!

  53. Martha Ellen says:

    What a lovely weekend! Your little nieces –too cute for words! I adore the cookies they made—memories for the future for them for sure!
    My hubby and I are visiting daughter and grandson in NH! What a difference in temps for our VA bones. Our grandson was Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls for his highschool play–How proud we are of him! Totally get how much fun you were having with those two cuties at your home–Our younger grandsons in VA love to make cookies and decorate them also–we’ll soon be doing that with them. Thanks for sharing all your fun! ♥

  54. Stephanie says:

    This post made me so happy – joy! Your niece’s are beautiful – they seem like lovely little girls. They are extraordinary cookie makers too! Such creativity – I loved it!

    I like that Christmas is a SEASON – and I try and celebrate all month – having a neighbor or friend over for Christmas tea, going to see a show (Nutcracker or 2 years ago “White Christmas” on Broadway!) etc. Here you had a perfect Christmas weekend and it’s not even Christmas!

    Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Did the girls love Jack?

    • sbranch says:

      The girls loved Jack of course, but Jack was being a cat and did not love them back the way I wanted him to. He was a little frightened of so many new people at once and hid out alot!

  55. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Thank You Elf~Sue…for Sharing Eliza & Maggie with Us….Beyond Magical…like Two Little Christmas Elves…Spreading Laughter & Christmas Joy Everywhere! I KNow You & Joe are Still smiling giggleling quietly humming….The Love & Joy of Children….& Hooty Hoot that Corey & Jessica…Hooked You Two Up with the Netflix & Pandora Radio… Excellent…Today’s Youth They are Brilliant~Techno Peeps! Yay! as for all Those Scrumptious Christmas Cookies That You &The Girls Made…Beyond Prize~Winning! I Love “Mistletoe~Kisses”….& I’m sending “Fairylicious~Kisses” Too! Be Merry & Bright! Bravo for all this Holiday Joy Sweet Elf~Sue! xoxo Poof! ♫♥♪ 🙂

  56. Ginnie says:

    *big sigh of contentment!*

    Looks like a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

  57. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Loved seeing those cute smiling faces with the cutest baked cookies ever!!!! I will try your icing recipe. (I just put on the sprinkles prior to baking.) I also like your idea of using the empty muffin tins for the decorations… good for possible spills. Your neices are adorable, and how blessed they are to have the two of you…….and to visit an island in the winter is so neat! My elderly father lives on Harsen’s Island, Michigan, and we too will travel by ferry this weekend to visit. We will decorate his home for Christmas. The ferry ride will be fine this time, but thereafter, we never know if it is running when the weather turns bad, or later on in the season when the ice becomes a problem on the water. It’s always an adventure!!! Have a great afternoon….hope you can rest up from your busy weekend!!!!

  58. Wendy says:

    Wow, what a fantastic job you girls did on those cookies! So fun!
    Really nice that they hooked you up to Netflix and Pandora. I could not live without Pandora…..have it on my iPad and listen to to it while I’m browsing the Internet, baking, etc!
    Glad you had a wonderful, Christmas-y weekend, Susan. XOXO!

  59. Francine says:

    I know how much you enjoyed the girl’s visit. Such lovely cookies you made, so festive! And such lovely holiday plates! I know the girls LOVE their new twirly skirts…what girl wouldn’t. And such a fun way to leave! Gave me a laugh. You are right, baby boomers and children go together. I watched each of my two grandkids until they were two. Now I watch them both two days a week. Jack is 4, Charlotte is 2, and they are VERY active, but it gives life to my house, and to me! This morning we painted salt dough ornaments among other things! Now it’s naptime!! Talk about family fun, Jack is going to be Joseph in the pre-school play, and we are figuring out a way for him to sneak in a “hi” to me…we have both been laughing when either of us comes up with a sneaky way to give a “hi” to Nana! Thanks for the visit with the girls, it was much enjoyed!

  60. Terri says:

    Oh they are adorable ! (both the girls AND the cookies!)
    Love those skirts, they look like the best kind for twirling, which every girl needs (big girls too – I wish they made more twirl-y skirts). Our baking day with our grandgirls is next weekend. I can hardly wait after looking at your happy photos.

    I love ‘Harvey’ – and ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ – and every other movie you’ve mentioned. It would be fun to read a whole list of your favorite movies – and favorite books – sometime. Being in the boomer generation too, I have a feeling I would find even more of my own favorites on there – but there are probably lots I’ve forgotten about over the years and maybe some ‘new to me’ ones too.

    Happy Monday!

    • sbranch says:

      If you look at the top of the blog where it says About Me, there’s a list of books. Movies still to come! Stay tuned!

      • Terri says:

        I just read through your book list and did find many of my own favorites, but some new to me ones too. Thanks!
        And will definitely stay tuned…if there were a Susan Branch channel, I think the tuner would be stuck there – I wouldn’t touch that dial, lol.

  61. Karen Saunders says:

    Okay Susan…. did you say that Uncle Joe helped make the girls skirts??!!! He can sew TOO besides cook and fix things and love antiquing and loves animals and ‘stuff’??!! Where did you get him? He’s like ‘Wonder-Guy’! (not to mention he has a sense of humor….) I don’t know, some people have all the luck. (And he hauls the presents back and forth to the post office…with just a little grumbling) Joe, Joe, Joe. You are so nice aren’t you. What a great couple you are.

    • sbranch says:

      We didn’t make the skirts! We bought them at a tiny children’s shop down on Main Street. He can sew on buttons though!!! That’s fairly impressive I would say! He also, hold on to something, sends thank you notes.

      I dreamed him up. Wrote about him in my diary before I met him. I will have him read this, you are so sweet, he will love it.

  62. Jeanette says:

    Susan! What a delightful post!!! They are cute beyond words. Love their skirts from you and Joe and why haven’t I thought about hitching a ride to someone’s suitcase before. Granted it would be a bit harder and take longer to pull it along, but nonetheless…Thanks for the smiles and giggles. By the way, your cookie platters are precious!!!! Do you offer them in the Store??? Darling. Darling, they are. Mistletoe kisses back to you! Jeanette

    • sbranch says:

      The platters are something I designed for a company that was sold very soon after I designed them — only a few were made, and it was a long time ago, so to make a long story short, no. 🙂 I wish we had them!

  63. Marilyn says:

    I love those cookies the girls made! Do you know why?? Because they were made with love and laughter. It’s obvious they were having a great time, and making memories that will stay with them all their life.

    Moments like these ( baking Christmas cookies, dying Easter eggs etc.) are the most precious of all. 🙂

    I can almost smell those cookies baking, and hear the sounds of little girls laughing. Love it!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  64. Ann says:

    There is nothing more special than making Christmas cookies with children. This post brings back so many happy memories. I’m in the “inbetween” stage of children and grandchildren. Looking forward to many more cookie memories in the future.

  65. Gala Wurdeman says:

    I actually like Spotify better than Pandora. Spotify has playlists, but you can also listen to entire albums and create your own playlists. Just a thought–found Spotify on Facebook from friends and I haven’t gone back to Pandora. One of my favorite movies with a wonderful Christmas scene is Desk Set with Hepburn and Tracy. Of course, I’m a librarian by training so that made it all the better.

  66. Mia Sophia says:

    I am now inclined to get out my old cookie cutters and go to town! Nothing could be finer than the smiles on those darling sweet faces. Such an inviting hearth and home. To be inspired is to be living in spirit…thank you for your boundless inspiration always!

  67. Karen W says:

    Oh how lucky to have such a fashion forward Aunt! The skirts look like perfect twirling skirts.
    Has Jack come out yet? Girl Kitty probably paced herself but poor Jack trying to keep up with all that energy could slow him down for a bit.
    Thanks for sharing your Merry Christmas Magic! Got Pandora Christmas Music going now, thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Both Jack and Girl more or less stayed out of the girl’s grasp! Surprised me, but that’s what they did! You never know with cats.

  68. Melissa Olson says:

    Thanks for the cookie inspiration Susan! I prefer the colorful and imperfect cookies the most….they are much easier for me to make, and somehow taste better too 🙂

  69. Kathleen Morearty says:

    Hi Susan,

    Where did those adorable cookie platters come from? Can I buy them somewhere? They are just the cutest! So glad you had a great time with the girls.

    Merry Christmas!


  70. JudyCnNC says:

    Family faces are like magic mirrors … what a wonderful quote as I have never read that before. Thank you so much for sharing your weekend with all of us – looks like everyone had a wonderful time and the memories are so important.
    I am just so excited, my very own First Edition copy of Christmas from the Heart of The Home by Susan Branch just arrived in the mail and I cannot wait to savor every little picture, page and word. It is my wonderful present and I will always treasure it. Such excitment for my afternoon tea time. Thank you for writing and publishing such a wonderful book. Judy C in NC

  71. Jan says:

    Glad you had such a wonderful time AND shared it with us ! What a blessing!
    Loved the pictures of the decorated cookies. How sweet.

  72. Jeanne Hedin says:

    Loved your pictures and family stories! I have my “grandma goodie bag” packed for a day with my little 2, 4 and 6 year old gumdrops. Pine cone Christmas trees, clothespin reindeer, coconut joys . . . This is such a fun and special time of year. I had to laugh about getting “hooked up” — as baby boomers, we are waiting for our two sons-in-law to help us with the same thing this coming weekend. 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

  73. Aggie says:

    Your nieces are absolutely adorable! So lucky to have a wonderful auntie like you. Thanks for the Pandora tip….I had no idea!

  74. Jackie says:

    Dear Susan….

    What a wonderful way to start the day (even if I did not get to it until later today!). After having knitting friends over for holiday lunch and gossip and knitting, I opened your blog post. Heaven! Those girls are just too wonderful. And I am lovin’ those cookies notes! Very special times! The video was priceless…I want one of those skirts to twirl around in!!!

  75. Diana Jenks says:

    You are going to LOVE Netflix! There are so many great old movies. I love to spend my afternoon watching “period pieces”. I’m sure you’re really going to enjoy watching many classic movies!


  76. Dale Worness says:

    How did Jack get along with his two new playmates? I’m sure they all had a great time together. Bet you wished they could’ve stayed longer. Those little girls were too cute. So were the cookies! The first time I made Christmas cookies I had everything all ready till I realized I forgot to buy a rolling pin! A bottle just didn’t work. I noticed “The Bishop’s Wife” will be on TCM (Turner Classic Movie) channel on Fri. Dec 16th at 8PM EST. No commercials either! Looks
    like a good movie. Gotta watch it! Now I’m hungry for Christmas cookies. Thanks a lot!

  77. Kim, Cathedral City, CA says:

    Thanks soooooo much for the icing recipe. We were already planning on making your butter cookies this week and when I woke up this morning I thought “I need to find an icing recipe”. So, you can image how thrilled I was to receive this blog!!!!!! I also purchased a candy themometer and we are going to give the home-made marshmallows a try!!! My son loves hot chocolate and I thought they would make his cocoa extra special during the holidays. Thank you, Susan.

  78. Laura B Jenkins says:

    What beautiful little girls…and how wonderful for you and Joe to fill their memory banks with cookie baking and holiday fun at your house = priceless…xo
    ps. I used to buy from Michel & Co. for a shop I had years ago..same one you designed for? 😉

  79. Lucy de Leeuw ( Miss Lucie) says:

    My daughters now in their 30’s and still talk about weekends like you just had. Now the grandaughter who is seven has been enjoying the bake offs the past few years. It truly does put a “perma-grin” on our faces. Christmas is so magical.
    I have managed to find a copy of “Once on Christmas” it will take a couple of weeks to arrive but I look forward to reading it. Also today I am going to pick up my very special package shipped from your shop? It is Christmas today for me! (Special Books and Magazines) I will share.

    Thank you Susan!

  80. Diane says:

    It sounds and looks like you had a very special time with your little girls! Such beautiful children…they look very sweet too! I am sending hugs and comfort to you for having to send them away! It is a good thing that you have a lot of cookies to eat this week to help you cope……lol. Those cookies looked like I could reach right into the picture and take one and eat it….yum! Has your weather turned much colder yet? I am so curious if you will end up with snow! One of your blogs had the pic of your house whitewashed with snow and it was like a postcard…..I am hoping for that for you again this Christmas! Have a wonderful and happy week!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s cold. 30 degrees in the morning. But clear as a bell and blue sky. So I think maybe not this year. We are still very cozy, and counting our blessings!

  81. Sandy Perry says:

    What fun! My 2 year old and 6 year old granddaughter have both made Annie sugar cookies with me and what a great time they had. Your cute as button nieces are so sweet looking and they are both great cookie decorators. They are sweet and very willing to help at this age. I am so lucky to have my little cooks,one day they might even get my Susan Branch cookbooks. Thank you for sharing that special time with all of us. I have never made the frosting glus but will try it before Christmas.

  82. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Ding~Dong…Me again…did Ya “Miss” Me again on this Blog?…Yikes! just flying by…Nighty Night …While visions of Sugarplums dance in Our Heads! Yay! “White Christmas” On Tonight on AMC…8:00 pm…The Best Things Happen while Your Dancing….♫♥♪ xoxo Poof!

  83. Susan Joy says:

    Those girls are adorable! I also love the cookie plates. I made your Touchdown Chili and your Gingerbread Cake this weekend, both were delicious. The Bishop’s Wife is one of my all time favorite Christmas movie too. I read somewhere that Cary Grant was originally cast as the Bishop and David Niven as Dudley. I’m glad they switched the parts, I can’t imagine it any other way!

  84. Heidi says:

    Lucky girls, and lucky you!! Christmas cookie baking with kids is always extra special! 🙂

  85. Gumbo Lily says:

    What cute bug-a-boos the nieces are! Oh! You must have had fun shopping with and for them — new skirts = fun! Kids and cookies really go together, don’t they. Thanks for sharing your joy.

  86. Joan says:

    Oh gosh I love this story! I have one question though, “Why is your cookbook so clean?” That very page of my book is smudged and smeared after years of baking those cookies for Christmas.

    Have a wonderful evening. =)

  87. Ellen Beeton says:

    Lovely lovely weekend. We have a tradition of decorating cookies each year with our grandchildren. They are all getting older now, but even the 24 year old won’t miss it. Now she has her own little two year old son to bring. Your girls are just adorable. You can tell they had a most wonderful time. It just warms my heart to see things like this. Happy Christmas!

  88. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan..Once again I find myself sitting at the computer smiling ear to ear as I read your lastest post. The girls are adorable and you can tell they absolutely adored their week-end. Cookie making is one of life’s pleasures….especially when it’s with family…you just can’t underestimate the power of the cookie..OR..the gingerbread house for that matter. Our four grandchildren managed to decorate their gingerbread houses this week-end without totally destroying our house!!! The kitchen looked very “lived in” however…I uploaded a picture of them to F.O.S.B….looks cute!!! and… You are so’s the little things…for one day we will look back and realize, they were the big things! Gotta go…cookie exchange tomorrow night…gingerbread people and turtles to make!! Your blog just makes my day..thank you Susan…keep enjoying!!! cindy

  89. Susan L says:

    Oh baking in your kitchen looks like such fun!!! And I love love love the “COOKIES” platter!

  90. Susan says:

    Oh, golly. I literally teared up when I read this post. Not because it was sad, but because it was so beautiful. Those girls are just darling, and I loved how you all had such a wonderful day together making memories they’ll have forever. This IS Christmas. And thanks for sharing it with us.

  91. Debbie Rockholm says:

    Oh how fun it is to have youngin’s in the house. It is so magical. The girls are so lucky to have you and Joe and what memories you are giving those two beautiful girls. Made me smile to see their delicious homemade cookies. How fun.

    Enjoy the rest of the holiday season Susan. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    and most important “Believe” 🙂

  92. Cyndi Harp says:

    How cute are these girls!! Making cookies with the kids was so much fun. Can’t wait for grand kids to make them with. Sounds like everyone had a great time. I love my Netflix. It’s great when you want to see a movie you don’t have and don’t want to run out and buy it…like when it’s cold and snowy! Enjoy your cookies. *S*

  93. So glad you had such a great time with you family! What yummy looking cookies, and beautiful pictures!

  94. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    What doll-babies the two little ones are! They got me so excited to see my little 6 year old granddaughter and my great nieces age 4 and 5. We will be baking cookies and making gingerbread houses. I can hardly wait for them to arrive next week – and – your little ones put a great big lump in my throat. What sweet memories for you and them!

  95. Susan Roubal says:

    Hi Susan, What a cookie baking extravaganza you had! I laughed when you related how the children and the cat/kitty mixed! Our two cats will check out just about anyone entering the house EXCEPT those with tiny, fast footsteps and high pitched voices! Ha! They zoom under the beds for the duration. 🙂
    Your blog is really helping me snap out of a funk from two years of health problems. It helps me reminisce about good times and I want to recreate some: cookies this week! The fruitcakes are already “marinating”. Yes, we love our fruitcake and tea (has to be Constant Comment) here. Thanks for being here to read.
    Yours very truly in the spirit of Christmas, Susan R.

  96. Linda says:

    Mary Englebreit contacted her fans about the possibility of resurrecting her magazine (which I miss so much) in the hopes of showing someone that there was a demand for her magazine again. Since you have so many followers ,maybe you could do the same thing with your kitchen line since we all want it so much!! When money is tight we still spend money on the things that brighten our kitchens so maybe you can get someone else to back you? Here’s hoping. The cookie baking brought back wonderful memories –thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe someday we’ll all send emails to some company and see what they say! I think these days you have to have your own TV show in order for them to do that with you, but you never know!

  97. Lynda Mills says:

    Sue – This has probably been asked and answered…and I apologize in advance for duplication. The Heart/Home cookie cutter available. I looked through the website and didn’t see it offered.


    • sbranch says:

      I designed it for a company that ended up being sold . . . and the cookie cutter was never made. I just have this prototype!

  98. Nancy B says:

    Your nieces are sooo adorable! I’m sure you had a grand time with them. Thanks for the royal icing recipe. I’ll have to try that. Merry Christmas!

  99. Theresa Thayer says:

    Obviously we all love your cookie plates!! They are adorable! I am also in love with the HO, HO, HO mug in the first picture, it looks like Emma Bridgewater, is it? Is it still made? It has been a few years since I have made cut-out cookies. My kids are all now grown and it isn’t quite the same without them. My daughter, son-in-law and new grandbaby will be coming home for Christmas this year, I think I will plan a cookie making party!! I love everything you do, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Actually my HoHoHo cup doesn’t have a name on the bottom . . . I’ve had it for quite a while so I’m not sure where it came from. You have a new grandbaby! Congratulations!

  100. DonnaRay says:

    Hello Susan and girlfriends,
    Loved what you said about the future being in safe hands if this little family is any indication. Some people watch birds…..I watch families and, as often as I bite my tongue when I see some parents misbehave with their children, far more often I see just what you experienced this past weekend…..healthy happy children because their parents are respectful, loving and shouldering the responsibilites of the most important job on earth. It warms my heart to see a darling family and I make a point to tell them. We all need encouragement!
    Thanks for the sturdy frosting recipe. I just bought a six inch candy cane cookie cutter for our 3 yr old granddaughter to make cookies to hang on the tree. Isn’t this just the funnest time of year? Happy Elfing! DonnaRay

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