Ever Wish You Had A Chaperone?

 Sometimes I really wish I had a chaperone.  I’d like someone to say, “no, she can’t go to that party . . . no, she has to stay home.”  I’d like to hear, it’s bedtime honey, put on the warm jammies from the dryer and go brush your teeth; take your vitamins darling; here, sweetheart, I made you some chicken soup — yes, honey, of course there’s garlic bread!; take a nap my angel, I’ll do the laundry.

Things happen when we are crazy busy, this is a photo taken a few years back.  Our fully-decorated tree fell OVER!  I had just called my girlfriend to come look at it, and before she could walk from her house, only one door over, to ours, it crashed to the floor!  It set us back a whole day!!!  We now tie our tree up every year.  This only has to happen once before you learn.

Yes, and cookies burn, kids get sick, the family has a meltdown, you run out of money, the washing machine stops working, and there’s a ticket on your car when you return from shopping in this happiest season of all.  So, as your self-appointed Christmas Elf, having been there myself, I’m here to remind you who the chaperone really is . . . here we go, take a deep breath, close your eyes just for a moment, and Listen . . . then come back and read . . .

Perfect timing, isn’t it?  To talk about stress relief?  Because not only is a huge holiday around the corner, with expectations galore, but tomorrow, December 21, is Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere; the time of year when the days begin to grow longer . . . how exciting! So I thought I would give you some chaperone-like ideas about what to do with all of your new-found time. (you can turn off the meditation if you want, and have some bathtime Musica)

When I’m too busy, I try to make some quiet around me.  And this is about the best place I know of to do that. Sinking deep into a steamy hot bubble bath, taking along a bottle of cold water to drink. And a book.  (And a kitty.) Yum.

I fix it so I only hear the ticking of an old clock, and nature noises, pancake turning noises,  crackling fireplace noises, purring noises, tea kettle bubbling noises, page turning noises, the skidding of the silver car as it passes GO and collects $200 noises.

Because the chaperone that lives inside us and knows what’s good for us, wants us to be happy; and she also remembers this old quote . . .

So maybe it’s time to have pancakes for dinner . . .

. . . or light candles, or make a wood fire, curl up under a comforter and take a nap.  (No fireplace?  This one burns for two hours, and provides perfect ambience.)

Make this amazing hot chocolate with whipped cream; pop in a candy cane swizzle stick if you like, take it to the sofa . . .

. . .  put your feet up, and read a good book; I’m loving this one . . . (which you could buy on-line at a lovely little independent bookstore that could really use the business, like this one),

Or watch a wonderful old movie, like Baby Boom, which you can either get on Netflix, or buy at this great big huge congolmerate that could probably use the business too.  I laugh until I cry at this movie; when she says she’s been “yupped and noped to death” and falls down in the snow in Vermont, I am laughing out loud!  The endorphins have a field day!  Diane Keaton always cheers me up!


Pull out your prettiest glass and fill it with delicious sparkling Prosecco, add a splash of cranberry juice, so it’s pink, and make it “Holly Jolly” with a sprig of  rosemary (the herb of remembrance) and one fresh cranberry. 

Or take your book and go to lunch alone! 

Or take your best friend!

She probably needs you as much as you need her. 

Remember when all the world seems to go mad, repeat to yourself over and over,




. . .  I am the normal one.

People might not be mind readers, and may not see that you need a break, you will have to be your own chaperone, and make it happen for yourself. I promise, believe it or not, no one will notice if you are M.I.A. for a day.  Deep breath.  They will only notice how relaxed and happy you seem. 

The modern rule is that every woman must be her own chaperone.  Amy Vanderbilt

And now, for a quick, pick-me-up-laugh, for soothing endorphins right now, go here.  There are more of these darling “Simon’s Cat” cartoons, all of them worthy of your valuable time! This one with the cat and the fly has been my exact experience this morning, sending a bowl full of kitty water over on my art table, drenching everything.  Uh huh.  Jack had to have that fly. 

 I’m probably no help —  now I’ve just made you extra busy, with everything I’ve put on this blog, all the “things to do,” books to read, cartoons to watch, plus all you have left to do, but please, take some time for yourself, stop in, say hello, bring tea and have it with me  — and be sure to look for your little surprise gift to show up here on Christmas Day.  xoxo

(P.S.  If you’re going to comment, or read comments, or stay on the computer for a while, you might want to let this play in the background while you do, it’s very soothing! xoxo)

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401 Responses to Ever Wish You Had A Chaperone?

  1. Jack says:

    Oh yes those pancakes –Can I have that recipe ? They are he ones I love …..Dad

  2. Ginnie says:

    Wonderful advice, Susan! And those cartoons are so funny – I’ll have to play them for my husband.

  3. Cynthia Krynock says:

    Perfect…I needed this….thank you! Trying not to be stressed out, can make one more stressed out! This is the perfect ending to my day…! Going to take more time to smell the Christmas tree in the morning!


  4. Tammy Wagner says:

    You’re such a great chaperone, Susan! I can’t tell you how many times reading your blog (complete with your “musica” suggestions, which I ALWAYS love!) has soothed my frazzled nerves at the end of a crazy day! I posted a couple far-from-fabulous pics from last December’s calendar page along with a blog entry I wrote last year, and I thought you might enjoy seeing and reading it.

    Here’s my Christmas letter posted for this year, too, so you can better understand how much your soothing words and suggestions are needed in my life right now!

    Thanks again!

    • sbranch says:

      I hope those links go through Tammy . . . sometimes this host removes links in comments! Anyway, my prayers are with you!

  5. Kerry S. says:

    Oh Susan – this is the time of year when we all continually challenge the “God/the universe never gives us more than we can handle” bromide! I’ve taken to muttering “Bring it on!” while I try to smile or chuckle! Didn’t get to bed until midnight a couple nights ago after finishing Christmas cards – then 3 cats each had to use litter box one after another with smelly results! Those little furry darlings!! Great sympathy for the December fly incident! Hope not too much damage! All best wishes for Happy Christmas!

  6. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan..Right on time…as usual!!! What great reading and ideas to decompress.
    So I stayed up late reading my favorite Christmas book..Heart of the Home…My favorite part is the loss of innocence story. If you don’t believe, what else is there? It reminded me of an intriuging story that ran on the front page of our St. Louis Post Dispatch Sunday morning. As you know, Joplin, Missouri was stuck by a devatating horrific F5 tornado on May 22 in which 161 people perished. Since then, stories of human heroics, good deeds, randon acts of kindness have been told and retold. But the stories told by the children who miraculously survived the brunt of the storm are the most endearing. In one particular story, a mother and her 4 year old daughter left their car to try to find shelter. When they couldn’t find a place to hide, the mother laid over her daughter to protect her. As she did, she saw their car being lifted off the ground and headed right for them. She braced for impact, but nothing happened. Both mother and daughter, beyond belief, survived. “Weren’t they pretty? the daughter asks. “Didn’t you see the butterfly people?” Countless stories slowly began to emerge about the butterfly people..only children saw them and all of them can describe them. They tell tales of the butterfly people protecting them. There are those who cast this off as frivolous, but many believe…if you don’t believe..what else is there? (and that includes the tooth ferry!!!!) ……thank you for your perfect timing, your wonderful stories and your hope that we all have a wonderful Christmas..there is so much to be grateful for…..love, cindy

  7. Susan, I needed this more than ever! It’s been one of those days… OK, weeks. Too much to do, too many people asking for more, not enough days until Christmas… I am sure I’m not alone. To top it off, I think I am getting sick… I have cookies to make and stockings to finish and presents to wrap! Glad I’m part of a team… I especially like the part that talks about even good things being a bit too stressful at times… I love Christmas! But, when will it ever end?

    So, thanks for the best-timed post ever. I am sure that with your help, I’ll be fighting fit in no time.

    Take care,


    • sbranch says:

      Feel better Santa-Jake! You have your work cut out for you!

      • My lovely wife, who also loved this post, was my chaperone today and made absolutely sure that I did nothing that wasn’t relaxing and enjoyable. Guess what? I feel 100% better! Just what the doctor ordered! Thanks, Susan. Or, should I say, Dr. Susan?

        • sbranch says:

          It sounds like you are the perfect team, you and your wife!! Me and Joe too, we went to lunch yesterday and then out to the beach . . . lovely and wonderful!! Feels a lot like Christmas!

  8. nicole says:

    Gosh, this is what I needed!
    I came out from the special doctor”ostéopathe”, with these words in my mind… all my body is stressed, even my brains! think of that! My brains!
    So I have to find ways to relax and “let go”… and here you come with your post!
    And you are so right! I managed to have an auto-immune dreadfull sickness that asked for chiméo… I have to learn and your post is just what I needed! Relax…
    ( but the longest I can stay in a bath is 10 minutes!) 🙂
    Thank you for being a little chaperon in our lives!

  9. Christy says:

    What a perfect pick-me-up. I like to think of you more as big sister/Mom. You’re the sweetest Susan. And those Simon cartoons! I’m a new devotee… don’t even have a cat – just a big ol’ doberman, but he can exhibit some of those same crazy antics for sure.

    Thanks for starting my day off right (as per usual),
    Bestest of the Best!

  10. Robin in New Jersey says:

    What a wonderful post. We women just do not take time for ourselves. I am home with my children all the time and I am always saying, “OK, what has to be done next?”

    It is 7:40 a.m., I am sipping English breakfast tea and enjoying reading all the comments. Was that your dad that commented up there?! How very sweet!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that’s him! Love him being here! Hard job, being stay at home mom, most important job in the world . . . thank you!

      • Charlene Hisayasu says:

        I agree with Susan! Stay-at-Home MOM is most important job (and, sometimes, most thankless) in the world! Robin, you go, girl!!!

        • sbranch says:

          My mom was home with us and I am forever grateful. She gave up a lot to do it, but she made it seem like it was just fun for her!!!

          • Laura says:

            I am a stay at home with our girls now, but I used to teach first grade. I completely bow down to all those teachers who teach AND make Christmas magic for their own babies….you are truly amazing…you are the best of the best! Thank you teachers who love our children as their own! Xoxoxo

          • sbranch says:

            Isn’t that the truth!

  11. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Oh Susan, I’m so glad you shared this with all our girlfriends! I do this at least once month on “Massage Day”. On Massage Day I take myself out to lunch before I get my 90 minute massage. Before I leave the house I set up the couch with a nice pillow and my favorite cozy throw and a good book. All is waiting for me to get home. Of course when I get home two little kittie girls are ensconced on the couch and have to be chased off. I’m usually reading and napping for a couple hours. If I’m so inclined I have already prepared dinner in the form of a favorite casserole (mac & cheese or such) and all I have to do is pop it in the oven. All in all it is a day where the phone is turned off and company is discouraged. My very own chaperoned stress relief day. I love it and don’t give it up easily! Have a great Wednesday, girls!! xoxo

  12. Mary says:

    Hi !! Susan what a lovely post I love the musica and it;s just perfect 🙂

    xoxoxox Mary

  13. Judi says:

    Perfect timing….you are my #1 present for Christmas! You always bring a smile to my face and that – is priceless:) Better not leave Jack alone near that bathtub as he just might jump in. Uff da:)

  14. Regina says:

    As I was reading your post, Susan, I was home trying to get over the stomach
    flu. After our family gathering over the weekend, almost half of my family came down with it! I live one state away and brought it home with me! So as I was feeling crummy reading your posts I thought how appropriate! Who has time to be sick right now? But I stayed in bed all day and slept, the only way to get over it, and let the world pass me by for a day. Things will get done before Christmas so I’m not going to worry about it. And if all the presents don’t get wrapped, well that’s the way it is. Feeling better today, but not at full speed, but will be going to work. I work at a school so it’s only 1/2 day today, then winter break. Thanks so much for your uplifting blogs. They always seem to hit the spot. Merry Christmas!

  15. debbie says:

    What a timely post! like so many others I needed to read this. I’ll be soaking in that tub later today.

  16. Tam says:

    I am sooooo jealous of your bathtub! I would LOVE to have an old, deep bathtub. Mine is short and shallow and I have to make do. I go in there with a book and I’m usually not out in less than 2 hours. I just have to keep adding hot water.
    Our tree started to fall over this year – at least it was caught! It wasn’t in the base properly and was leaning and it took just that one little thing to send it over. If you’d like to see my Christmas decorating, you can click my name link and it’ll take you right to the page. 🙂

  17. Jean G says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thanks for the chaperoning! It’s very timely, because I’ve been trying to cut back on the Christmas crazies this year and trying to do a little “Holiday Unwinding”. I actually got that inspiration from a McDonald’s commercial! It shows a woman who is busy, busy, busy – then takes a break with a peppermint mocha. “Enjoy a little holiday unwinding” – and she is magically revived and is laughing, enjoying friends, throwing snowballs, etc. I immediately took out my post note pad and wrote “Holiday Unwinding” – the note still sticks on my end table.

    Thanks, too, for being so open and honest. I like that!

    Happiest of Holidays,

    Jean G.

    • sbranch says:

      Doesn’t it seem it should always be that way? Little gentle things to celebrate the season? Almost worth making a list of them — everyone’s will be different, so that next year we all do exactly what we choose to do.

  18. Pam K says:

    Miss Susan, all I can say is Thank You. I wish I had found your blog long ago. Peace and blessings to you. Merry Christmas. With love and respect, a fellow Girlfriend

    • sbranch says:

      You probably didn’t miss too much — it’s only been up since June, but I’m sooooo glad you are here!

  19. JoE says:

    Had to laugh at the tree falling over (either you laugh or you cry, right?)…but also, if I had somebody to do all those things for me, I probably would jump up to help…thus defeating the purpose. Two hands make light work!!? Lol! Thanks for a great blog…loved especially the bubble bath shot including Jack! I enjoy his antics very much!

  20. When I saw the pic of the tree knocked over I thought…Oh no, Jack finally decided to go in!!! The advice to just stop, breathe, relax, and let the rest of the Season just happen is so appropriate. As I am reading this and just relaxing (my normal morning activity); Jim is vacuuming and preparing for the arrival of our daughter home for the Holidays…..(should I feel guilty I’m not helping..NO)…then it happens just as I’m reading about how to manage stress…sounds from my hubby that I never hear and I know it involves HIS new Vacuum a “Rikkar” (a mans appliance for sure)….I do bother to ask what the problem is…are you ready….he sucked up a kitty “fish” toy and now is wondering if it went inside the bag or clogged up in the vacuum!!! Well, I stopped long enough to find it in the bag and in the trash it went and back to work Jim went!!! So, I think he needs the pampering today…since he has retired I can’t brag enough on how much he helps which makes the chores go a lot faster. One last thing have all of you heard about the secret elves going around to the KMart’s in different cities and paying off people’s lay-a-ways!!! Now, that is what this Season is all about!!!

  21. Diane Byrum says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!! a warm bubbly bath feels soooooooooooooo good~I especially like mine with Baby Majic Lavendar sleepy time bath. Very soothing and so very relaxing. If it’s good for babies, it’s awesome for us. And taking a bath today on the longest day of the year makes for an extra long bath 🙂 as long as the water stays nice and warm. Stay warm and cozy, Susan. You take such good care of your girlfriends and you’ve thought of everything. How about a nice hot cup of chamomile tea with your bath? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      That makes my eyes drift closed just reading about it!

    • Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

      Diane – The Baby Magic Lavendar sleepy time bath is what I use also. Isn’t it fabulous??!! It makes my little cottage smell wonderful. We are definately on the same page with relaxation! Have a great day!!

  22. Treese says:

    Dear Susan
    You have renewed my Christmas Spirit! Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl

  23. Mindy says:

    Oh, Susan… Thank you!!! You’ve reminded me of how important it is to have girlfriends. As much as I love my dear husband, there are just somethings he cannot relate to. A frequent question from him, “What is it with women and bubble baths?” Or, like last night, “You’re kind of getting a late start on bedtime.” while I’ve just finished wrapping more presents, writing more cards and trying to contain the clutter in our small house. A little obtuse at times…
    But your reference to the movie “Baby Boom” was just spot on. It is one of my favorities! Having my dear little 2 year old girl Miette Rose with me has brought back so many of the simple joys of the season. Going to the town tree lighting, riding the trolley around downtown to see all of the holiday lights, making a gingerbread house while not worrying that there are now little green sprinkles all over the floor while she has the royal icing smeared all over her face. She is delighted with the simple (and mainly FREE) events of the season. It is fun to see this often hectic season with fresh eyes!

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful for you. I love her name Miette Rose . . . so pretty. Look at all the wonderful things you get to show her now!

  24. Elisa Guthrie says:

    thank you for showing us how to relax. I can always count on your blog to make me feel better. thank you! I get on here everyday to see what you have wrote and I spent one morning reading everything back to the beginning.Please keep it up! You are doing a great job!

  25. Karen P says:

    Okay, gotta say it….not trying to be a “suck-up” or anything but I think Diane Keaton should be excited about being compared to Susan Branch!!! (Somebody tell her if she doesn’t already know!) 🙂 xoxo….kp

  26. Laura says:

    Oh, girls…I’m trying the annie hall cookies a new way…..cutting out rounds for the bottom and for the top with little hearts cut out of the top and I bought my girls fave Nutella which I am going to put in the middle then dust with powdered sugar….thank you for this sugar cookie recipe, Susan….it works with everything and tastes sooooo yum! It is raining and dark here…good day to stay in and be cozy. Xoxoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I can just picture it! Have fun!

    • Karen P says:

      Oooh…Laura, let us know how that turns out, okay? Would love to try it…like a linzer cookie, right? Is it the same type of dough, I wonder? I have linzer cookie cutters and haven’t tried them yet but was going to this year.

      • Laura says:

        My girls and husband are loving these! Be sure to roll the dough kind of thin as you will have two layers and sprinkle the powdered sugar on the tops before you place on top of the nutella bottoms so the nutella shows thru….and bonus…i dont really like nutella so, one kind of cookie i won’t inhale!!!! Not so with the raspberry nests and kifles…sigh

        • Karen P says:

          Oooohhhh….thanks, Laura! Sounds good. I also have apricot filling to try. The dough is in the fridge so tomorrow I bake!

  27. Laurie Walt says:

    Hi! I read this blog twice-it struck a note for me. Thank you Susan for all you share with us!

  28. Marilyn says:

    Interesting, thought provoking entry today, Susan.

    I think we easily get caught up in the festivities of the holiday season, and then whip ourselves into a frenzy!

    I’m making a conscious effort to turn Christmas into a time of family and friends, gentle reflection and peace. Of fresh evergreens, flickering white votive candles and as you just wrote “ticking of an old clock, and nature noises, pancake turning noises, crackling fireplace noises, purring noises, tea kettle bubbling noises, page turning noises, the skidding of the silver car as it passes GO and collects $200 noises.”

    As always, beautifully expressed!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  29. Missy Moore says:

    I laughed so hard at “Simon’s Cat”! That could be our very own Linguini with me standing there saying, “down, down”. Thank you for the first good laugh I’ve had all week!

  30. Cyndi Harp says:

    When I saw the picture of the tree I thought “Oh no, Jack knocked down the tree!!” Then I thought I remembered that you tied the tree up so that probably wasn’t what happened. You’re right. We get all caught up in rushing around that we forget what is important. I’ve gotten better over the years as I’ve decided if things get done great if not that’s ok too. This year is not going to be our usual Christmas with all the trimmings. I hadn’t put up a tree as we were supposed to fly to Okinawa tomorrow to spend Christmas with our daughter and son in law. But we are not going now. Last week we found out our oldest daughter had to have her gall bladder removed and they were going to do it the 22ND, our flight date. So the tickets are on hold. We couldn’t just leave her. She may be able to have the scope surgery but she had her spleen repaired from a car wreck and may not be able to do that because of old scarring. If she can’t have the scope she will need a lot of help right away and be out of work 6-8 weeks or she may be back to work in 2-3 weeks if she can have the scope. But we just don’t know so we’ll be at the hospital waiting. May other daughter understands but she’s so far away and was hoping for a family Christmas. So it looks like we’ll do it in January. *L* Anyway, I’d appreciate it if you all would keep my daughter in your prayers. I keep all of your in mine and wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas!


    • sbranch says:

      She is in my prayers, and so are you, and your daughter who’s missing you! xoxo

    • Cyndi Harp says:

      Thanks for your prayers. Kelly sailed throught her surgery and was able to have the laprascopic surgery. 45 minutes or so and she was in recovery. 2-3 weeks and she’ll be back at work. We will indeed have a Merry Christmas. May you all have a blessed Christmas and a super 2012!! Thanks again.

  31. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Oh my gosh, Susan, you are my Christmas angel !!! Just last evening, I felt so stressed with all of my unfinished “Christmas to-do list”projects, that I felt like I was going o pop! ( A bit grumpy…you could say.)When I sat down to read your blog, I felt like it was custom written for me……this was actually the best advice coming from a “girlfriend” from so far away. The timing was perfect!Thank you very much for the advice! I will take all of the “chaperone” words to heart, and find some “me” time amongst the hustle and bustle of the season. (I thought I was doing fine thus far, but when I went to my dad’s on Harsen’s Island to make “Christmas magic” decorating his house, and cooking for him…..I must have used up alot of my holiday energy supply.) (P.S. The ferry ride was smooth and delightful, as the snow and slick roads appeared after we had arrived.) God Bless you Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Making Christmas magic for your dad is a pretty elf-like thing to do! xoxo Merry Christmas Carilyn! You deserve it!

  32. melinda w says:

    Having neighbors over for dinner who have been very kind to us since we moved, hmm, the corn chowder sounds perfect. Well-loved copy of Autumn is on the shelf (next to it’s “sisters”, Heart of the Home,…) but lets see if there are new photos of Girl or Jack. Then up comes the new posting and my respose is like that of receiving a “real” letter which a slight jump & an audible “Oooo!” Then once I started reading the post, I slapped my hands to my face and started to sob and repeat “thank-you,….”
    My angel mother LOVED Christmas and made it incredibly special. Now I am blessed with three daughters, and I want Christmas to be incredibly special for them but taking it one step beyond by making it calm and peaceful too. That addition has been easy until this Chistmas-we moved back to our home state and near my husbands extended family. The tendency with this group is to make demands not requests and become increasingly unpleasant if demands on time and appearances aren’t met. My focus in life is to enjoy it & focus on the positives: especially as a full-time mom with two in school and their activities, growing pains, etc, I do everything I can to quickly deal with the negative and leave it behind. But “this group” makes it challenging and when I just hung up from another i-just-talked to-so&so-and-they…-phone-call when I saw yesterdays post. It uplifed me so greatly and beautifully and also gave me permission to say no to several things and say yes to the two things that will be fine (and not result in hurt). There–decisions done, cant & wont worry about who is offended. This morning the girls & I are proceding with daily Christmas delight, starting with a goofy dance to “We Wish You the Merriest” and working toward sharing corn chowder with dear people, and maybe a bubble bath after pretty little girls are tucked in!

    Thank you, dear & kind Susan, for getting me back on the track of Christmas Delight. Blessings & delight to You & Joe and kitties.

  33. Debbie Anderson says:

    You are full of wonderful ideas for this time of year. Too bad I can’t do any of them until we come home again Christmas night. But watch out next week, I need to plan some “me” time and help a girlfriend find time also. She is going thru a very stressful period in her life and I want to help her. Thanks and hope you have a very, very merry Christmas!

  34. Susan Jones (CLBCQ) says:

    Although there is a very high percentage of “swear words” (as my kids would say) and sexual implications in the movie … just in case any FOSB are reading this and avoid such material … my husband and I and our college aged son watched “Bridesmaids” last night after the younger ones had gone to bed… oh my, we laughed so hard… a very well done “chick flick” … laughter is so wonderful, especially with family! xo

    • sbranch says:

      As bad as The Hangover was, as much as I expected, and even wanted, to hate it, it was so funny, I laughed myself silly. I definitely did not tell my mom to see it!! But, I heard Bridesmaids is the same sort of thing, although I haven’t seen it.

      • Doreen Strain says:

        Oh Miss Sue, you have to see Bridesmaids…it is hysterical! I took my daughter with me to see it and I laughed so hard my tummy hurt. You know those kinda movies. I loved your bath tub music. We have one of those sunken tubs. I fill it with bubbles and in I go. All my candles are lit and the music is on low. I just love it! I used to love to go out into the woods when I lived Upstate NY and just listen to the chipmunks running around the woods and the birds chirping. Very stress relieving. BTW….did you know that stressed spelled backwards spells DESSERTS! Merry Christmas from our house to yours and to all of the “girlfriends” home too! FOSB 4~Ever! ~Doreen~
        Oh, I forgot to tell you….I think that cartoon was made at our house the first year we had Kitty! LOL!

        • sbranch says:

          My girlfriend has woods behind her house….her husband put a claw foot tub out there, on a brick platform, ran a hose from the house, hung gauze in the trees around the tub, and she takes bubble baths in the woods!!!

          • Karen P says:

            Wow! Seriously? Sounds heavenly! Hope there is enough tree cover overhead to ward off low-flying airplanes who want to gawk! xoxo….kp

          • sbranch says:

            very deep woods, tons of skinny trees, she’s safe. It’s pretty darn romantic!

          • Doreen Strain says:

            Well ladies…since we are sharing…..years ago I used to go skinny dipping in a wonderful little spot in the woods that used to have a waterfall that emptied into this beautiful little pool like area that was about 20 feet deep. I used to love to go there and just relax and float around listening to the waterfall. I wish I could go back…well…I can but I would need ten strong men to help me up and down the mountain to get there. Hahahahaha! I’m loving how all of us are starting to respond more to each others posts. Wish we has a live chat feed on this site Susan. We would all be addicted to it…I’m sure of it. FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

            BTW….bath tub in the woods is very romantic Susan!!!!! Gonna have to work on that one when we go up to our cabin in Upstate NY. Thanks for the idea! <3

          • Karen P says:

            ** sigh**…..

  35. Linda Wattier says:

    Thanks for all the stress relief info. Nice reminder! Would love the recipe for those pancakes. Maybe for tonites dinner. Thanks again.

  36. I really love reading your posts Susan~they come in my e-mail like little treasures that wait for a particular time in my day so I can really pay attention….Thanks for reminding us all to slow down a bit~you actually reminded me that I have a tub…can you imagine….I have not been in it for ten years….how crazy is that?! Don’t worry~I won’t post pictures…lol! Oh and btw I DO take a shower….ha!

    I took a look at that little girl cozied up under what appears to be a Susan Branch fabric quilt with the wheels of color and I laughed because I am making that very pattern for my sister who is a huge fan of yours….I have your toile for the back…can’t wait to give it to her…she better not be reading all your comments…….♥E (I will post the quilt on my blog when it is finished….)

  37. Kelly J. says:

    Thank you for this awesome post! Just looking at that bathtub relaxes me!

  38. Paula B. says:

    Thanks Susan, I really neded this and the music to go with it! My best class has really been acting up the last two days and it really got to me, they were worse today. I’ve been trying to be really understanding all week because I know it is a stressful time for kids too…but they just have not been good. Doubting myself and griching over Chrstmas all the while I’m trying to put on a happy face and buck up. I know I can do it, I’m in good shape with the holiday prep so I need to take some relaxing time. Time to enjoy and savor some of the blessings of the season, for as you noted, these days will never come again. How do you always seem to have your finger on the pulse of your readers, this is just what we all needed.

  39. Aggie says:

    Thanks for all the great stress relief reminders – so important this time of year. I am a huge fan of massages and bubble baths. Taking time off of work before Christmas certainly helps too, as I have discovered this year. Jack on the carpet is too cute. Can he reach up and peer into the tub or still too small?

  40. Mama Bear says:

    Maybe it comes with age, but I don’t obsess about everything being perfect anymore…..if it gets done, great, if not, no one will notice but me.
    Honey Bear just spilled red wine on the end table and carpet. I didn’t let it phase me and tried to get him to just chill about it.

    • sbranch says:

      What real difference does it make in the long run? Just a bit of sparkling water, and voila, it’s gone.

  41. Sarah Maldonado says:

    Susan, I’m back today with another comment…hope you can stand another. We had our gathering with my brother and his friends last night….went well. Your corn soup was a HIT! i usually don’t make recipes that I haven’t already tried but went with my TRUST in you! Everyone raved. Thanks! Now, I’m reading this blog again, relaxing easily as I see the pictures you’ve drawn and hear your words. I have a question that you don’t have to answer, but thought how great it would be to have ALL of your blogs in a book so I can refer back to them all the time like I do your other books…oh how wonderful that would be. Anyway, just a thought!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a good one, we will have to ponder on it a bit!

      • Martha says:

        I too have something for you to ponder … ever consider having a ‘search’ feature on your blog? So many times I want to go back to re-read a post or look up a recipe. Would be a useful feature. Thanks for your consideration.

  42. Pat says:

    Susan you always have the very best links! I have both the ocean/music and the crackling fire in the background as I write this 🙂

    I celebrated an early Christmas with my children and grandchildren in Colorado and so now that I’m back home in NYC the hustle and bustle of the holidays is basically over for my husband and !. We will have a small Italian style fish dinner on Christmas Eve and go to Mass and then Christmas day we will relax and enjoy the day by walking around to see the decorations around our neighborhood and visiting friends for dessert.

    Your blog is a beautiful gift waiting to be opened whenever you write — I really appreciate all you do and all your wonderful creativity!

    Hope you and Joe have a very Merry Christmas!

    ♥ Pat

  43. Karen L. says:

    Susan, this post is wonderful in so many ways! I forwarded it to my daugher (who has a black/white cat) and am saving in my Bookmarks for future reading.

    May you be warm, cozy and done with Christmas shopping!

    Hugs, Karen

  44. Mary Ann says:

    Oh my I started your plan a few days ago by taking this whole week off. Since we had a big family celebration last Sunday at our house I definitely needed it. Now I am pretty much ready with a few odds and ends so I’ll spend Friday with my granddaughter making cookies and a silly house (rice krispies instead of gingerbread, more foolproof) with lots of icing and candy. Thats what will take me through the weekend! But I am so glad to have you here Susan reminding me!

  45. Nancy says:

    Sounds like a good mommy!

  46. Nancy says:

    Susan, thank you for your wonderful blog today. It has helped me so much. I’ve been so stressed out it took me until 5 o’clock this morning to get to sleep, and then I could only sleep for 2 hours. Too many things on my mind. But after reading your blog, I feel all calmed down and I think I shall be better able to sleep tonight. Also I forwarded The Ink Spots ditty to my son and fiancee. I know they will love it. He is a volunteer firefighter. God bless you.

  47. DonnaRay Evans says:

    Susan, it never fails that your posts somehow relate to what’s going on in my life. My husband and I just gave each other a $700 sewer transfer pump for Christmas! (We’re so romantic!) Santa Plumber just hooked it up this afternoon which means we can stop the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” procedure, I can do laundry and run the dishwasher…….. simple pleasures I take forgranted….and, the best part….. I get to take a hot bubble bath tonight with your musica playing and your sound advice “mellowing” in my mind pushing out all but lovely thoughts and visions. Thank you….and the plumber!
    As always, DonnaRay

  48. joan henry says:

    Love love love Simon the Cat!! Shared with my family the other night!! What a giggle and soooo close to home with cat owners!! Thanks for the chaperone tips.

  49. Arlinda says:


    Thank you. I’m already planning on all these wonderful things to do.

    I too love “Baby Boom” it a warm and fuzzy love good cry laugth and you go girl kind of movie to me. When I first saw this movie at 16 I always dreamt of packing my meager things after college and whisking off to Vermont. Never happened, Yet I don’t know if it will be Vermont but I do yearn for the simpler way.

    By-the-way, Bless you. With both sides of the family coming over for dinner – Saturday dinner, Sunday brunch, Sunday dinner – “I am the normal one” will come in handy. I’ve already used it when shopping today and it works.

    Kisses and Hugs

  50. Vicki Hughes says:

    As always, you prove to be a “kindred spirit” as Anne Shirley would say : ) My Mom and I LOVE Dianne Keaton in Baby Boom, and I have been laughing over those Simon cartoons for the last couple of years, as anyone with felines can relate to their shenanigans! Merry Christmas, and thank you for the reminder to take a little time out : )


  51. Diane says:

    I am late to comment on your blog, but I am exactly like everyone else on here…..how did you know?! I thought I was way ahead of it all and then last minute things to do for Christmas came up….very fun and some exciting things, mind you, but they have zapped my energy right on out of me….and I needed this entire message from you about being my own chaperone. The way you phrased everything just calmed me right down and I feel a bit more “normal”. Sometimes we just get so into something that we totally forget to pace ourselves…or at least I tend to….even if it is wonderful! Thank you soooo much! You are totally the oldest daughter in your fam , I can tell…..lol….you know how to perfectly care for everyone! Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS…and many blessings to you and your loved ones!

  52. deb says:

    Susan, I soooo needed this post today! You remind me So Much of this card my dear Sis gave me about 100 years ago, “Zen cat rides a Rainbow over the Rough Edges of the World” …thats all it said… 🙂

    ~Thank you for reminding me~

    Merry Christmas Sweetie!



  53. My daughter arrived early evening carrying enough clothes etc. and Jim asked her if she was moving back home!!!! HA We went out for pizza and then toured a neighborhood with the most amazing decorations. We giggled and this one house was totally blue with the COLTS Horseshoe on the roof and then there it was…a home that looked like Christmas with the Kranks….and it was set to a radio station and everything in the yard and on the house turned on/off to the radio? It was so cool and they have had traffic jams and I couldn’t help but think what their neighbors must be living through? Oh, the neighbor next to the house decorated like the IN Colts, had a lit up sign in their yard with an arrow that said DITTO!! LOL Well, after my Dr. Appt. today I’m hoping I can start feeling better and get on with the Holidays! Is any one else having Sinus problems out there?? UGH…..Happy Thursday!

    • Lori from Maine says:

      Hi Deborah – My husband and I have had colds since the week after Thanksgiving. Yuk. I lost my voice for a few days, I think he enjoyed that :)! Hope you feel better. Merry Christmas!

      • Hi Lori, thank you and I have sinusitis and my Dr. suggested Mucinex for this time of year? It is never fun to be sick and it sounds like you and your husband have had your fair share. Merry Christmas to you too!

  54. Sandy Richmond says:

    Hi Susan,
    Every January, my friend Pat (Mofjeld) and I decide that we are going to make or purchase a Christmas gift each month, so that come December, we have that many gifts already done! We also decide that we will sit and sign and address our Christmas cards in the summer, while we can sit outside and do them. Then come December, all we have to do is add a Christmas letter or pictures. Every December comes and neither one of us has done either of these, and we laugh and laugh… this year is more quiet for me, as my kids won’t be here (first time) and my family decided no gift exchange this year. I embrace the changes in my life – with the thought that ” to every thing there is a season” I love your blog, and the responses and little Jack!

    • sbranch says:

      Best laid plans, right! Thanks for being here Sandy!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Sandy, you are “telling tales out of class”!!! 🙂 Well, what Sandy didn’t elaborate was that I suggested sitting out on the deck on July 25th with Christmas tapes playing, cut-out Christmas cookies, and a big pitcher of lemonade while we address Christmas cards. Afterall, how many friends change their addresses, etc., between July and December? But she is right, it has yet to have happened. Now that she has confessed it to the world, she and I had better try to mend our ways and be better organized next year, right? (I’m sitting here laughing…) 🙂

  55. Pam says:

    Hi Susan, I won’t have access to a computer until after Christmas so just wanted to wish you and Joe a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2012. Thanks for all the wonderful items you’ve given us on your blog in 2011. xx

  56. Ana says:

    Love this last post and I’m still laughing !!. Coudn’t agree more with you.

    Happy Christmas Susan

  57. Lori from Maine says:

    I had to laugh at the fallen Christmas tree! We had puppies that never touched our tree, but…when our son was three years old he decided to reach for an interesting ornament. Down it came! I scooped him out and his eyes were as big as saucers. No harm to either the tree or the baby! Last night I was tired from mixing cookie dough (when is enough, enough!) and went to bed at 8:00 to watch tv and was asleep by 8:30. My inner chaperone had kicked in! It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I’m all rested up and ready to bake! Time to put the spice cookies in the oven and make it SMELL like Christmas. 🙂

  58. Kirsten Wichert says:

    Dear, dear Susan,

    Thanks for the perfect blog for today!!!! In case ya’ll missed me (lol), my p.c. crashed just around 3 weels ago. Oh,no! Oh, yes! I’m finally back! Faster and better……because some loving people took care of the problem. Right in the middle of my Christmas stress. I’ve been taking my (adult)son to the Dr. and physical therapy 3 days a week. Because of my disability I usually don’t go out often. I’m BEAT and not the dancing kind! Yesterday I spent the day at the Dr. office myself. Soooooooooo, thanks for the relaxing music and sharing just the right words for today! I have genuinely missed you! I held on to the fact that I knew you would still be doing what you do and that when I could I would find you again. So, now I am going to be my own chaperone and catch up on everything I have missed here. Thank you. I really do mean that!

  59. Lisa Nelson-Jones says:

    Baby Boom was my late momma’s favorite movie. How precious a memory for me to remember her right now- at such a stressful time- when my new kitty just DOVE HEAD FIRST into my Christmas tree and it fell to the ground and broke some of my best ornaments! GRRRRR! But I needed that memory and your reminder to know… everything is going to be just fine 🙂

  60. Karen P says:

    I think I’m going to get the “ingredients” for that Holly Jolly cranberry sparkling yumminess today! I even have a rosemary plant in the house that I brought in from outside! Thanks for that little holiday inspiration, Susan.

    AND, we finally have a bit of snow here in northern Wisconsin!!! Hopefully it hangs on through Christmas. Christmas blessings to you all!!! xoxo…kp

    • sbranch says:

      Wait til you see how cute it looks with the cranberry and rosemary . . . the photo didn’t really show it. That plus snow? Lucky you!

      • Laura says:

        I LOVE those glasses, too!!! Somehow our conversations always come around to glassware or jello, or jello in the perfect glass dish…lol!!

        • Karen P says:

          Me too, Laura! I have glasses that are almost just like that that I got from my mother-in-law when she passed away. Never sure if they were supposed to be fancy dessert glasses or what. Now I’m going to use them for this sparkly drink at Christmas!!!

  61. Heidi says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for this. I’m recovering from food poisoning so was home from work the last couple of days. A bit stressed because I’m now behind. My Nicky will not leave the tree alone. The cartoon is so him! He is so full of joy for life that I just can’t be upset with him. Thanks for all of the suggestions – listening to the ocean right now. Your blog is delightful and always cheers me. My mom and I read your Christmas story together – thank you for sharing such a special story. Merry, Merry Christmas!

  62. Beverly says:

    True, true and more true. Susan, this is the perfect post.

    You should link this with us this weekend for Pink Saturday on my blog. Linking begins tomorrow. I know everyone would love your blog.♥

  63. Theresa says:

    …..hearing the sounds of the tide is a peace that surpasses all understanding…thanks for your wonderful blog today

  64. Janice Kay Pipes says:

    Oh just had the chance to catch up on your blog today. Just got to love Jack!
    And to think he taught you to play fetch….. Your Christmas story was just lovely is will make a wonderful book. Can’t wait to buy it as gift next year. It brought back great memories of my childhood Christmass. As I am sure it will for many who read it.
    That great doll store in Shell Beach is called The Alcove you can find them on Facebook and they do have a website to browse. The lovely lady who owns is it a friend of mine. And I to love to go and look around there. Usely right after my daughter and I have had lunch at Mei’s chinse resturant next door. Some of the best homemade chinse food in the five cities if you havn’t had a chance to try it next time in town go! You will not be disappointed.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. And I’m going to make your corn chowder for dinner tonight. It’s been getting done in the 30’s here. Perfect soup weather. Well off to the store a few things I need to make dinner.
    Take care and give Jack a snuggle for me.

  65. Karen P. says:

    Oh my goodness!!! How did I ever miss “The Shop Around The Corner” all these years!!?? It is so sweet. If it’s on yet again this week, it’s a must-see. “You’ve Got Mail” is a remake of this. Love it!!!!

  66. Angela says:

    Hi Susan, we (my husband, son and myself) just gathered around the lap top to watch the Simon’s cat cartoon. Loved it! We were all laughing out loud as we watched. Being cat lover’s ourselves and currently living with one, we have a great understanding of crazy cat behavior. Thank you for sending a group laugh our way, there is nothing better than the sound of laughter.

  67. Melanie E. says:

    Hi Susan..I have been just a little stressed the past few days- baking at night, running around all day..I was sneaking peaks at your blogs yesterday at work to help me de-stress – so thank you! As usual, I’m going right up to the last minute..at least tomorrow I have the day off from work. I plan on painting an ornament for each of my kids, more baking..and finishing up another hand made gift. Oh – and wrap presents..my plan is to have it all done by Dec 24! Thank you for YOU and for sharing your insight. MERRIEST of Christmas’s to YOU!!

  68. Judy1223 says:

    Wow, did I need THAT right about now! As a working mom of four kids, this time of year is SO crazy for all of us that I really need a breather, even if as brief as sitting back at 12:15am on a rainy night (that happens to also be the first few minutes of my birthday!) after laying out clothes for the kids’ last day of school before vacation and listening to the ocean sounds you linked. Ahhh! I have a feeling I’ll be re-reading this post throughout the holidays…it is such a wonderful time but it can be so crazy, too. Thanks so much for this slice of peacefulness!

  69. Gumbo Lily says:

    A hot bubble bath and a nap can fix anything for me!
    I’m a fan of Diane Keaton too! Have you watched the Christmas movie, Family Stone? Funny and heart-wrenching all at the same time.


  70. Nellie says:

    This was just a delightful post and know it took lots of time to put together,
    so I appreciate it all the more……………..loved those kitty cartoons, so cute!
    and everything you said is soooooooooo true. I am happy to report that we
    have had a stressfree Christmas Season for a change, and it has been wonder-
    ful………….every year we keep finding ways to make it less stressful, this year
    instead of putting the icicle lights on the eaves of the house, we just draped
    them in the bushes, and it looks just as festive, and now since our neighbor
    across the street put their icicle lights on the eaves, it gives us a different
    look, and took less than 45 mins, with untangling and testing the lights and all.

    Then my least favorite thing to do, is decorate the Christmas tree ( I really love decorating everything else).
    So for years I have been threatening to just decorate the Christmas tree with snow only, so this year my daughter got married and I gave her all her ornaments I have collected for her all her life to put on her tree…………..so I threw a red
    ribbon with tendrils on top of my tree and stuck a Merry Christmas sign on it,
    and threw plastic snow all over it, and we love it……………….
    This just might become a tradition as we are getting older…………at least until
    there are grandchildren probably. lol

    You have a very blessed and Merry Christmas,
    Blessing galore, Nellie

  71. Joan Lesmeister says:

    I wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year & Happy Holidays to you dear Susan, & Joe, & the Jacks, & GK, & To All! My chaperone is taking over soon, I hope! Sigh!!!! XO

  72. Diana says:

    LOVE your blog. Thank you. I tell my students in my classes to be in the moment, to nurture yourself and others, breathe… and SMILE 😉 Life is NOT SO SERIOUS, and can be fun, if we let it. Your blog embodies my most favorite things… especially cooking. And Baby Boom 😉 And the simple things that connect us, especially our best girl friends.

    Merry Christmas, and thank you for all you do in the world.

  73. Cindy says:

    Oh how I love this post! And Susan, I would LOVE to sit and have tea with you…..how many times have you heard THAT from your readers in the last 10 years? Lol… You have a grateful follower here, I love everything you write and everything you stand for…..and EVERYTHING you share about Christmas! Such simple joy! The best kind…


  74. Susan, WE are wishing you, Joe, Girl, and Jack and all the “Girlfriends/families a Blessed Christmas Eve and Day! This weekend is about our Lord and being around loved ones to celebrate HIS birth. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS…..hope everyone has a wonderful weekend….see everyone on Monday!!!!

  75. Sandra says:

    This was a wonderful post; loved it, loved it, loved it! Lately, my mantra has been

    Keep Calm and Take a Nap

    I’m having a button made for my blog; seems there are a lot of folks who feel the same -smile-.

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