I’ve been decorating for a whimsical Christmas — lots of inspiration for it! Starting with MUSICA . . .


I thought you might like a “Life of Jack” update — and I know everyone thinks their cat is the smartest in the world, but this is actually the smartest kitty in the world. He just is.  You know how cats rub against your legs?  Now every time Jacks walks by me, he doesn’t just rub against my leg, he JUMPS up, his front paws leave the ground, so he can rub against me. He jumps up, then curls around me and comes back and jumps up from the other side.  Do I love it?  Yes!   Then he stretches out on the floor in front of me, full length, so I can rub his belly.

He’s also not as interested in ball-retrieval these days, now he likes rubber band retrieval . . . the thick elastic kind you use on a pony tail.  I shoot them, and he leaps into the air and catches them, or chases them, and brings them back to me.  I tell you he is brilliant! I will be reading a book, feel something come up into my lap, look down, there’s a rubber band.  He’s little too.  Not growing very big, so far, for a 16-month old. He’s a little, smart cat.

He adores the fire.  Curls up in front of it, stares at it, rolls around next to it, naps as close to it as possible . . . to the point where I have to stay there with him, he loves it so much that I’m not too sure yet that he is aware that it is HOT in there.

But, just so you know, Joe and I do leave the house sometimes … we’ve been getting the house ready for Yankee Magazine who, if you read Willard or have been hanging out on this blog, you know, is coming to take photographs of our house!   Here we are at one of our garden centers called Eden.  They always do the cutest things at their entry way!  Nice “roping,” don’t you think?

And we found our tree!  At Vineyard Garden Center.  Thar she blows.  Now to get her home!

I started my paper whites — I save the rocks from year to year; I also found a bag full of moss when we were shopping off-island …  thought it would be pretty to mix in a little bit of green.

Speaking of green, for a while there we could not see a speck of it outside, our lawn was wall-to-wall leaves . . . But Joe made compost out of them . . . and while he was out there raking, he, got an idea, inspired by the roping at Eden. . .

And made this with the bushes in our yard!  Isn’t that great?  I was very impressed!  Who knew that, #1, we had the stuff to make this — even though I should know, I see it every day …. or, #2, Joe would be able to do it! (Although I should know, he can do anything!)

While he was doing that in the yard, I was baking cookies — and, by the way, this recipe is SO Delicious, I’ll put in the next post (this one is already too long!) . . . It’s a chocolate chip cookie different from any other — Joe loved them and so did I!  Good Housekeeping is what we were doing . . . here on Christmas Island.

And then Joe, even more inspired now … came in and surprised me with this!  We usually buy wreaths and put our own bows on them . . . but he got the urge to try making one; went out there and cut more Chinese and English Boxwood, Holly, Ivy and Pine — and look how cute it turned out, all fresh and perky!  I hope he realizes what he has gotten himself into.  One is seriously not enough.

My job was to add the toys, the bow, bird, and pears!

So he went back out and brought in a whole box of greens for me to play with!  I love whimsy; a little decorating-sense-of-humor is a good thing at the holidays, but I also love tradition.  When you google Decorating Whimsical Christmas, there are lots of white trees, bright pink, turquoise, and silver ornaments.  I love looking at the pictures of this . . .

. . . because they are full of creativity and joy … BUT I’ve never quite gotten over the old-fashioned traditional things, and need to have them!  When I think of Christmas, I remember how I saw it as a child when I was at my most personally whimsical (believing with all my heart in the magic) . . .   sparkle, and lights, candles, color, stories, singing, cookies …  pure magic!  That’s still what I love.  I want whimsy, but now I’m grown up, I know about tradition, and I need my old things too. 

Like wreaths and roping made from traditional greens that are green, my little trees in the window sills, or my bird tree on the table . . .  I had fun playing with the leaves and branches over the windows — I just poked everything under the curtain rod!

And talk about whimsy, these were the “men” sitting in the “yard” of a gingerbread house on display in a coffee shop downtown!  Aren’t they adorable?  I think it’s marzipan … my favorite part is the tiny chocolate shots stuck in the top of the heads!  With whimsy, the sky is the limit!

But this probably as traditionally whimsical as I get . . . my bird tree.  I’ve had it for years and years, and guess what?  It’s been up for a week, and Jack hasn’t touched it yet!  It’s on the kitchen table, just over his food bowl, and he just isn’t interested. Knock on wood.

Rachel, my English girlfriend, gave me this tiny precious cup; I brought home leaves from our walk, another little bird and voila! Nature whimsy!

Plus of course my little old house that I found at an island flea market, it goes on top of the stove, like every year …

I’ve also been setting out my old quilts, which Girl loves . . .

 I took this picture last year . . . it’s the ornament I got the year I move to the island.  Now that’s a tradition!

And of course I have to do my shelf-scape of Beatrix Potter People; they needed a few trees and pears. 

And there’s not too much more traditional than Christmas apples and old books . . .

Yesterday Joe and I carried the tree down the driveway and around to the front door, which is the best way to bring in a tree at our house, through the front hall, causing the least amount of damage, both to us, and to the house, and there she is!  She smells wonderful!!!  When we get her trimmed and ready for prime time, I’ll be sure to show you!

I am not done decorating by any stretch of the imagination, I have the fireplace to do, the Peter Rabbit room, and lots of other spots.  Which is where I’m going now.  But first off, I remember how much you liked the picture of the beautiful cardinal on the feeder outside my kitchen window, and was thinking, what would the girlfriends like for a Holiday Giveaway . . . ???  Something whimsical would be just right, I think!

And I thought, maybe this little notebook, of the boy bird feeding the girl bird, the way it should be in real life at all times!  And then, of course, because I love mine so much, you really must have one of these darling new mugs we just got in.  They are just like the bird cup . . .  four pieces, the cup, the lid, a mesh basket inside for loose tea, and a saucer for your cookie!  So cute …

So yours.  And the little pad opens up, is perfect purse-size for little winter notes . . .

And one more thing.  Joe says he will make you

One of these!  And I will decorate it!  And we will send it along with the mug and the cardinal notepad, so we can wish you a Merry Everything girlfriends, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Soltice, or as Jerry Seinfeld called it, “Festivus!”

 To be entered in the drawing, just leave me a little message in the comment section (if this blog is being emailed to you, you have to click here, www.; scroll to the bottom of this post, click on the tiny word “comments”); in a few days, our Winning Name will be pulled by the wonderful and beautiful Vanna . . . and I will announce it here.  Joe will make that wreath at the last moment so it will be fresh! 

We say Bye for now!  We would jump up and rub your legs if you were here!  xoxo

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3,031 Responses to WHIMSICAL CHRISTMAS

  1. Nancy says:

    I love your website and books,you are an inspiration to me everyday

  2. Arlene Siepel says:

    What a delight you are!! I purchased a can of B&M brown bread 2 weeks ago and my husband asked why? Have you had this before? No, I don’t know it just called me. NOW I know why, I have it toasting as I type, Thanks. I also share your appreciation for the black & white movies, I just watched Remember the Night with Barbara Stanwyck & Fred MacMurray, Oh my I just exhale and sigh when that quirky actor Sterling Holloway sings “At the End of a Perfect Day” reminds me of snuggling with my precious MoM, Dad and siblings in our small cozy home with the world shut outside.
    Thank you for keeping such Home Fires burning for us all. Arlene

  3. Diane Aakre says:

    Oh my gosh,Susan, your blog with all of the wreath making,garlands and decorating was just like a magical moment for me. We too, like at your house, have been decorating with our 5 Shelties running all around us as your kitties have been doing & it is absolutely wonderful. We are so blessed & then the magic began when we looked outside & it was snowing!!! Beautiful flakes that are still coming down…Instantly it felt like Christmas & I love it…So my husband ran out & took pictures of our lights in the snow & we are sending pictures to my brother & sister-in-law in Mississippi!!!! I too,like you, so enjoy the little things in life,so many wonderful little things that mean so much to me…. By the way, I sure would love to win your wonderful give-away!!! A wreath made by Joe would be over the top!!! So love everything you do,keep it up. Diane P.S. Love your books, shopping on your website & seeing the look on the face of my best friend when I give her something that is “Susan Branch”…..

  4. Kelly says:

    I love, love, love your style! Getting the updates always puts a smile on my face and inspires me to putter around my house. Thank you for the inspiration! Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas to you, Joe and the kitties!

  5. Colleen says:

    Merry Christmas Susan! Love reading your blog especially at this time of year. Thank you for sharing your life with us! I think I am going to have to try some of that brown bread 🙂

  6. Cassie A. says:

    Thank you for the Christmas inspirations. I especially loved seeing the word banner you made and I’ve made several for my family and mailed to them already! Your words and pictures and art are so special. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Melinda says:

    Oh the brown bread! My mom used to buy it. She would slice it up and we would make sandwiches with cream cheese in the middle. Love reading your blog. Thank you for a great memory. I must look for a can of bread next time I go to the store. 🙂

  8. Janice Micke says:

    I love your Christmas decorating. I can’t wait to see the Peter Rabbit room! I believe it’s my favorite room in your house. Please hurry and get it decorated and displayed.

  9. Your home is starting to look very festive. And Joe is so talented – and handy we all know! What lovely wreaths! It looks like Jack is enjoying the festivities as well. My sweetness – my white ragdoll cat, Manny, is having a trying holiday season having to contend with my brother’s huskie who is visiting for the holidays! I think I will go make some little whimsical banners, per your intructions on the previous post. So cute!

  10. Carol S. says:

    Please pick ME! I would love a wreath made by you and Joe for my unadorned front door…need your help with putting a charming piece of artwork on my house!
    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

  11. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan, Love the decorations you and Joe have made, just beautiful. You’re a great inspiration to my decorating this year. I’ve enjoyed your 2012 calender all year, but I remember I had trouble finding it. A little calender shop in our mall had one and I grabbed it fast. For 2013 I’m taking no chances and bought it a while back. Bet you’re getting excited about the big photo shoot. Your house is going to look very festive and warm and inviting when they get there! Good Luck and have a great week!

  12. Theresa says:

    Hello, love reading your blogs, your ideas are great. The bread
    in the can looks interesting. Will be looking for it in the grocery
    store. Can’t wait to hang your new calendar. Have a very merry Christmas!

  13. Ashley says:

    Every year for the past couple of years, I have gotten your calendar- oh how I love it! Every month I look forward to new inspiration, ideas, recipes, and happiness! My very favorite thing though, is your “Homemade Recipes” cookbook! I’m only 26, but I have started to fill it with my favorite recipes and hope that one day my children and grandchildren will be able to look at it and enjoy the deliciousness & love that only a homemade recipe can bring! Who knew a recipe could have such a special place in someone’s heart? It’s these grand things I am finding out as I get older- it truly is the simple things that matter most! Thank you for your wonderful blog & inspiration to lead a happy, creative, loving & thoughtful life!

  14. Mona says:

    I so enjoy seeing the many ways you make your home a warm comfy place as well as seeing the places you visit. I feel like I am there with you. You inspire me to enjoy life’s little pleasures.

  15. Toni says:

    Thanks for the chance to win your sweet Christmas treats. I would love to see that beautiful wreath on my front door here in Oregon. Thank You for such lovely photos, happy news and of course – Jack!

  16. Susan Stefani says:

    Love the cat! Christmas is approaching too quickly but browsing your beautiful sight has given me the inspiration needed to embellish my home. Your blogs are so comforting. I always order your calendars in September to make sure to have your treasure. Thank you for creating such cozy comforts. Merry Christmas!
    Susan Stefani

  17. Susan Mettetal says:

    Oh, each time I browse your site and read your blog I’m immediately transported to a place far, far away from my little nest here in Bakersfield, California. Snow is found only on December calendars and Christmas cards. But, we do have the magical Tule fog that rolls in and makes my cup of tea all the more comfy. I would just love to be the blessed recipient of the contest. Merry Christmas to you!

  18. Suzanne Nelson says:

    Am always amazed how our lives have so many parallels from SoCal childhood to New England. I’m now back in NorCal. Love your Jack stories & photos of beautiful Girl. I have 2 cats also. Thanks for your memories & recipes. Have all your cookbooks.

  19. Jane McCarthy says:

    Every time there is a blog post from you, I wait until evening and then take my computer and sit in front of the lighted tree, turn on the MUSICA – thank you very much – and absorb all the Christmas essence you send our way! Thank you Susan, for enriching my holidays and expressing so beautifully how it’s the little things that make the Season special.

  20. Jean D. says:

    Isn’t Christmas just the most wonderful time of the year?! Bejeweled trees, great old xmas movies, carols, yummy treats (including the blast from the past B&M BB), cards arriving snail mail, the smells of evergreen and peppermint, I could go on and on. I simply love all that the Christmas season brings. Thank you for sharing all of your fun holiday decorating ideas – so inspiring! Your house looks so festive – time for me to get the rest of my decorating done. 🙂

  21. MoeWest says:

    Joe did a wonderful job on the greenery! Your house will look fabulous for the magazine shoot. Thanks for the giveaway.

  22. Gloriajean Penny says:

    This is my first visit to the blog. What a lovely treat. I’ve been getting the newsletter for years but I didn’t know about the blog.

    Thank you so much for all the insperation.

    Best wishes,
    Aunt Bea

  23. Candy says:

    I don’t know what it is about your blog that is so calming and inspirational. I think your love of things that are sweet and meaningful to you come across to all of us. Thank you for sharing your home, ideas and dreams and for creating a haven for your readers. Having your blog to read is like a little gift to myself that I save until my husband and kiddos are in bed. Then it’s just me and MY black & white kitty, Violet, who enjoy your creativity and appreciation of life.

  24. Annie Rathbun says:

    About 30 years ago I decorated a tabletop tree with all kinds of Beatrix Potter
    figurines, miniatures of her books, and multi-colored mini lights. The books are tied on in a way that allows them to be removed and read to anyone who will listen! We have loved it dearly, and now that we no longer want to put up a large tree, it is our Christmas tree. After seeing your bird tree, I think I just must have one like it! Good thing I have two tables!

  25. Leigh says:

    You had me at “And Joe said he would make you one of these ….”

    And remember Date Nut Bread in a can? My Mom would serve me a slice of that with cream cheese (thinned with a bit of milk) slathered on top.

    Who knew such good memories could be found in a can?

  26. Sharon says:

    Always a joy to experience your beautiful blog. The sweet blessings of the season are always displayed. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Annie says:

    Oh how warm and inviting everything looks. The wreath is beautiful! Blessings and a very Merry Christmas to you and Joe.

  28. Judy Frank says:

    Thank you! for all the inspiration to get im the decorating spirit. Really enjoy your blog so much. Such wonderful ideas. Joe did a spectacular job on the wreaths. Good job, Joe. Have a great December.

  29. Teresa BAker says:

    I read every last bit of Willard and loved it! Your house is darling and our Sam kitty has just discovered those ponytail hair thingies, too!

    Merry Christmas!

  30. Judith Ruan says:

    So much inspiration….love this blog

  31. Nancy in PA says:

    Love seeing your ‘whimsy’ decorating, and Joe’s handmade wreaths are beautiful! Can’t wait to see the Yankee magazine article. Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

  32. Nicole Alvarez says:

    Come on Vanna!! I would love a “Joe” wreath! I love looking at your life through your blog and books.

    Nicole in MD

  33. Linda N says:

    B&M Brown raisen bread is on my Saturday grocery list!

  34. Rebecca says:

    Just had to get on early this morning for some inspiration to start my day. Merry Christmas!

  35. Joyce Remley says:

    Dear Susan, You inspire so many of us, your girlfriends, and I want to thank you for all your work (or play). Merry Christmas to you and your family. Love from my hearth, J.B.

  36. judy from Connecticut says:

    Hello everyone !
    Life has been so busy, I have been reading all the blogs , but not writing lately until today !

    First of all , Jack is just beyond adorable. What is better than a perfect cat in front of a fireplace ! I must add that I also LOVE Girl. When I see her with her palest of pink nose, my heart melts. I am always most drawn to the one that is a little more shy.

    How lucky am I to have been raised in Connecticut on a Christmas tree farm !!! Such wonderful memories, people coming to choose their tree and my mother inside baking Christmas cookies. That must be why at 59(yikes!) I still love Christmas so much!!! I have been using every spare moment to decorate so that our house is like living in an old-fashioned Christmas in New England. I am almost done, now I have to start baking !!

    The reason I have been so busy is that I started a new job a few months ago(I had not worked for years) Anyway, my neighbor was living in a retirement home and had to be moved permanently into the Health Center. Her two children live far away so they hired me as a companion five days a week to do whatever she needs. Right now that is things like cutting greens in her yard and bringing them to her so that she can make things for Christmas, or setting up a table in her room so that she can paint. I was not so sure about working with older people, but it has become such a blessing in my life. I not only love her, but all the other people there. They all have so much wisdom and I think they bring me more joy than I could have ever dreamed of. A couple of examples- one woman was calling for someone to help her and no one seemed to respond. I asked her what she needed and she said she didn’t know, but that she was having a bad day. I told her how pretty she looked in her sweater with pink roses and she said “I look pretty?” She was just so happy over such a simple compliment. I taught her to look around and see the beauty in the Health Center, there was a lovely bouquet in a vase nearby. Her whole day was brightened. Sometimes someone there just needs a smile or a hug, or a few minutes of conversation. In the dining room ,I noticed that no one spoke, they just ate their food. At our table, I now have everyone talking. I ask them to share a Christmas memory or what their favorite Christmas cookie is, or what was their favorite Christmas decoration. We are always the last table to leave and we have such fun ! The woman who sits beside me is 99 and so smart ! She now calls me Pollyanna ! Soon I will bring everyone Christmas cookies to share.

    Why am I sharing all of this with all of you? Because this Christmas I thought it would be nice for everyone to think about taking a little time and going to visit some older people in a nursing home. They are such treasures, and just need a little joy in their lives. It feels so good to make them smile. It doesn’t have to be for very long. By blessing them, you will find you will be blessed as well. Merry Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      She is so lucky to have you Judy, such a loving person, to come into her life! This is the most wonderful thing! Thank you for this perfect Christmas (and all year long) message!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        There are two things in this world that can absolutely cut me off at the knees. Mistreatment of animals – and neglect of the elderly. Judy, your comment has me streaming tears – but thank you for writing something that SO needs to be said. I think it takes a very, very special kind of person to work with/care for the elderly. A lot of people do it, but it’s strictly a job to them. They go through the motions and may provide for physical needs, but do nothing for hearts or souls. Most older people are so very grateful to be listened to, to have someone who wants to spend time with them, read to them, ask them questions, play a card game or a jigsaw puzzle, help them learn something they mastered long ago etc. What the activity is – is secondary. Just the gift of time and interest means so much to them. Something we might consider Nothing At All may absolutely make their days. How very lucky the people are that you’re working with, Judy. Hopefully others in your facility – and everywhere – will follow the sterling example you’re providing. God bless you and have a wonderful Christmas season!

        You may never see this because I am reading through all the “giveaway” comments and there were a lot – but I just had to write back in case you do. Take care. :>)

  37. Nancy Farris says:

    I love your website and your decorating ideas! Talk about getting into the Christmas spirit………I’ve got it now!

  38. Rosemary says:

    Good Morning,
    hope i am not to late to add my name to the pick..I forgot about the brown bread it has been along time.. So went to the grocery store yesterday to purchase some..Of course had to toast up two slices with loads of butter.. soooo good.. thank you for the reminder..
    have a joyful holiday season.. blessings..

  39. Debbie Palmiscno says:

    I look forward to each new post…..and have been a fan of you, your books and calendars for many years. This summer I came upon 3 of your books at a tag sale–lucky me!!!

    Merry Christmas

  40. Lori Staurovsky says:

    Hi there! Ive been collecting your books for about 20 years and I treasure each and every one of them! Being an artist myself, I thoroughly enjoy your artwork and realize your passion for art, as well as the spirit of the Holidays and traditions! Thank you for making such beautiful artwork and I look forward to every new addition! :)Lori

  41. Debbie says:

    Been so busy these last few days I haven’t checked the blog. So glad I checked in this morning. I would have been so sad to miss the chance to enter this wonderful drawing! It looks like you are having fun getting ready for Yankee magazine and Christmas. Today is the day to start making magic happen around here. Wish me luck!

  42. Senda Guertzgen says:

    I remember brown bread from many years ago and have not seen it for many years. Perhaps I needed a friendly reminder to look for it….thanks! Your home looks beautiful and your kittys are precious! Just hung up your 2013 calendar and now ready to begin my decorating for Christmas. Your blogg is a great way to start my day! Thanks and Happy Holidays!!.
    Senda from MO

  43. linda says:

    am i too late for this ,love your books and recipes so good thanks !!

  44. Linda says:

    Your blog has meant so much to me over the years and your books and your stickers and your …. You are a gift to all of us who crave beauty, kindness, gentleness and creativity! Bless you, Susan and your sweet Joe. Thank you for continuing to let us share in your life.


  45. Broook from Sunny SoCal says:

    I hope I’m not a day late and a dollar short! Love all you do. Thank you for brightening my day!

  46. Maria says:

    Ah, the can of brown bread! Used to love that (gone to my gluten intolerance) and you couldn’t get enough butter on it. Beautiful decorations. Thanks for always sharing with us; your joy is contagious! Happy always to you and Joe.

  47. cleta waldron says:

    I pride myself in knowing I have decorated to the nth degree…until I see your blog and my decorating begins anew…more ideas..thanks for the inspiration!

  48. Ashley W says:

    Wishing you and Joe a very Merry Christmas season. I love getting a peek into your life of creativity and kitties. I too adopted my own girl cat a little over a week ago and am having so much fun. Thanks for your generosity.

  49. Judi D. says:

    Susan you are always such a blessing to me (and to everyone else I think). Thank you for all of your hard work to bring us so much joy!

  50. Jeanne says:

    Susan, Just love your website, blog, Williard, and of course Jack!! My “Jack” is named Riley, and it’s amazing how much I love that other “little man in my life”!! Reading your entries gives me such pleasure, a feeling of warmth and friendship, something to hold on to in this crazy world. My husband and I have an ongoing battle-he always tells me to “forget all those little things”–you and I are in agreement that truly, the “little things” make a huge difference, whether decorating, cooking, or living. Thank you for a truly inspiring place to come every day!! Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and the kitties!!!

  51. Marilyn Haarklau says:

    I haven’t thought of brown bread for years. You brought back so memories
    of spending time with my Mom and eating brown bread. She was from RI. It was always a special time. I’m 78 years old and hope my children have happy memories of times in the kitchen making bread and pies. You’ve made my day. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  52. Joy Rose from Oregon says:

    Dear Susan, I always anxiously look forward to your posts! I especially love your Christmas posts. Thank you for being so faithful to your blog.

  53. Marty says:

    My aunt Gladys used to make brown bread at Christmas and I had sort of forgotten about it- I am digging out that recipe today! Thank you for a reminder of how yummy it is.
    Your blog is a cozy spot in my day, every day 🙂

  54. Sarah says:

    I’ve got the perfect spot picked out for the Joe Wreath. Here’s hoping!!!! Thank you, Susan and Joe!!!

  55. Amie Ladd says:

    Darling ideas! Thank you, for sharing your lovely home with us! We once had a black and white cat, she looked very much like your girl kitty. Vanna pick me!
    Merry Christmas from Independence, Missouri!

  56. Rosemary says:

    oh my goodness, what a treat! Please enter me 🙂 Your post got me all inspired to start my decorating when I get home from work today 🙂

  57. Deborah B says:

    Susan, I love your blog and read it regularly.So JOLLY! :o) Would love to be entered in your beautiful giveaway !

    Thanks, Deborah :o)

  58. Sue Green says:

    When Yankee Magazine comes to take photos, they will be blown away! The house looks gorgeous, and Joe’s rope and wreath…or I hope by now, wreaths!…are terrific. I’m sending by husband out into the yard right now!

  59. Stephanie says:

    I think I’m inspired to plant some new bushes in my yard! We love the blog, Sue. Thank you for your kind spirit and goodies. My friend made me a recipe scrapbook in your home cooking binder for my birthday last year. She got recipes from friends and even peppered in old black and white photos. It is truly a treasure. Thank you for your inspiration! Here’s to a cup of tea (or glass of wine) after you finish your decorating!

  60. Carol says:

    Our elderly neighbor baked pumpkin bread in cans. It was a sweet bread. She passed about five years ago. I had no idea bread could be bought in a can! Thank you for the drawing!

  61. Betty B says:

    I love how traditional you make your Christmas decorations. It brings me back to my childhood holiday seasons. Christmas is such a fun time of year.

  62. Oh, joy! I’ve loved your work for years, Susan…didn’t know you had a blog! Just found you today via googling vintage Christmas pictures and the one you used in this post came up–so glad!

    Your cookbooks have inspired me forever–the recipes included have become some of our family favorites–I’m sure you hear that all the time, but want you to hear it from me, too!

    Would LOVE to win your giveaway! What sweet things to share–and the wreath is wonderful! Keeping my fingers crossed & happy to find you…will be back soon!

    Merry Christmas!


  63. sarah malchoff says:

    Susan, every time I read your blog, You bring JOY into my life! Yesterday I sat by the fire, and read your Christmas Joy book…a tradition for me. I love your watercolors, and wished that you painted on china. I collect pitchers, and would love one from you. Will you ever think of doing this? I have a Santa tray with two Santa mugs which I treasure. I am not lucky in drawings, but maybe the magic of Christmas will be with me this time! Merry Christmas to you and Joe( I love his wreath) Sincerely, Sarah Malchoff

  64. Eileen Nieli says:

    I love your blog. My husband and I read it all the time. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  65. Susan Little says:

    Thank you for the wonderful “Willard” visit we just had! It’s ALWAYS so much fun catching up with an old friend. Not that we’re “Old”… just our “Friendship”. LOL! I can’t wait to see how you decorate this year. Thank you for always sharing your thoughts, words & life in general. It’s simply delightful!

    Merry Christmas & all the best to you and yours always,

  66. Siobhan says:

    You are so massively delightful in all that you do. To think I could win one of Joe’s wreaths is beyond the pale. I’m in! Happy Holidays to you both, dear Susan and Joe and Girl Kitty and of course, Himself. xx

  67. Liz Unruh says:

    I grew up in upstate New York and spent summer holidays visiting Block Island, not too far from Martha’s Vineyard. I have spent the past 18 years in Colorado, (which I love!) but not too many winter days call for wintry-warm wool sweaters and fluffy, cozy socks. It’s a dry, sunny climate here and I am blessed with a view of the Rocky Mountains which take on a different look each day. Speaking of the mountains, they have been hidden by a bank of snow-laden clouds for the past five days. Soon, the clouds will lift and they will be visible with a fresh covering of beautiful snow – I can’t wait! I would LOVE a Joe-created wreath filled with greens from precious New England and I would be thrilled to enjoy a cup of tea (Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride from Colorado’s own Celestial Seasonings) in your beautiful tea cup creation, Susan! Thank you for your blog and your newsletter – it brought back fond memories of blustery, wintery days of back east!

  68. Randi Bault says:

    Thank you for all of your wonderful posts. When I am feeling down, you always bring a bit of joy to my heart. I really miss my husband this year. Seeing everything You and Joe do to celebrate the holiday has brought up many memories of Christmases past. .. …
    Much Love and Admiration,
    —–<–<–@ Randi

  69. Kattywhiskers says:

    TIME is a precious gift…Thank you Susan for giving your time & extraordinary talents TO BLESS so many…Merry Christmas!

  70. Joan Ramseyer says:

    Somehow the natural decorating is the sweetest. Love all your ideas and the look of your house this holiday season. It will be so special when Yankee Magazine shows up. All the best. Joan in Michigan where we got snow today. I love it.

  71. Christine Aschbacher says:

    Lovely pictures!!! Keep em coming!

  72. Elizabeth in Montana says:

    Spending this snowy day reading your Christmas books! Would love to be entered in the giveaway…thank you.

  73. Carolyn Freitag says:

    Thank you for sharing your brown bread with us. It brought back memories of my mom serving it to us for a special treat.

  74. Joanne says:

    Love the wreaths! They are so, so beautiful!

    Merry Christmas, Susan.
    Thank you for all the beauty you bring!

  75. Charlene says:

    I’m hoping I’m allowed to post again? I’m just so excited about this giveaway!

  76. Sandy Cooney says:


    I have one of your cookbooks and just recently discovered your website. It is a little bit of heaven in my day. You inspire me to be creative and take pleasure in the simple pleasures of life. Blessings!

  77. Loretta Neighbors says:

    Susan, you have made me so homesick, I could cry. What a beautiful Christmas you shall have! We have no winter weather here either, in South TX by the Gulf of Mexico. I’m the reverse of you in that I only have memories from growing up in the colder climate of the NE and moving here at age 33. Send some snowflakes along with the package if it’s intended for me!

  78. Barb Kuz says:

    Your blog helps calm the sole in the rush rush rush of life most of all at Christmas time, thank you for it all. I so look forward to a few minutes of your look at life, and always feel refreshed and energized to go on to face the rush all over again. Thank you!

  79. Julia says:

    Merry Christmas Susan, Joe, Girl Kitty, & Jack! ( he is SO cute!)
    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog…I just LOVE it!
    Julia in Ca.

  80. Patty in VT says:

    Thank you for the chance to win these treasures!
    (I love your bird tree!)

  81. JolieAnne says:

    I just love to visit your web site and your blog! I have several
    books by you and I LOVE the Autumn Book so much that I
    leave it out on the coffee table all year round! The way you
    decorate is so fitting for your house and your life-I love it!
    I try to do small things around the house to make it cozy.
    We are putting our real Christmas tree in the kitchen this year-next
    to our real fireplace! we only have a fire on Christmas day since we
    live near Palm Beach, Florida. I am really enjoying your posts when it
    snows there-love to see but I cannot drive in it-never have!
    Jack is an amazing kitty-love to see what he is up to!

  82. Kelley says:

    Wow, love the greenery that Joe created. What a lucky girl you are. And the house is looking festive. Can’t wait to see your tree.
    A very merry Christmas to you, Susan.

  83. Ann Burnham says:

    Oh so many years ago, I began receiving your Willards via snail mail. During that time, I purchased your books and became an even bigger fan by the moment! I soon found out that you were going to make an appearance at a nearby Michael’s store to promote your “Girlfriends” book. One of my dear friends insisted that we go to see you because, as she said, “Whenever you can find inspiration from someone you need to meet them and feel that energy.” We went to see you, and that small outing has remained a precious memory for me because I’ve since lost that dear friend to cancer. This healthy, young woman is now gone from my life, but memories such as this make me smile.

    After you moved to CA, I lost track of you. I think you stopped your snail mail Willards, and then years rolled by. Just a month ago, another special friend—-who is a mutual friend of the one I lost—-told me that you had this blog. I immediately rushed to check it out, and I’m now I’m inspired all over again! I’m now set to receive the Willards via email, and each day I check to see if you’ve posted something on your blog. I thank you for coming back into my life and inspiring me once again. We have so much in common that it’s ridiculous….

    • sbranch says:

      Hello Ann — so nice to hear from you again! The magic of the internet! I am so sorry you lost your girlfriend … so unfair — horrible to lose someone who loves you, who you love, who inspires you. xoxo Happy to see you here.

  84. Victoria Robertson says:

    The Bishop’s Wife is playing, the pine candles wafting and cinnamon spice tea at hand!
    Merry Christmas!!

  85. Jayne says:

    My computer was down for a week and I really missed you. Just a couple things, Make sure the rubber bands Jack plays with are the big really thick ones. the little stretchy ones can get rapped around their tongues and they can swallow them and do damage. Also, the little yellow “men” will sprinks hair are call minions, from the movie “Despicable Me”

  86. Nancy Newcomb Hubbard says:

    Hi Susan,
    You’re blog really leaves one with a happy feeling! Besides being a Beatrix Potter fan, I enjoy seeing your home as you decorate it….
    I have one of your books from awhile back and never tire of looking at your watercolors and reading the “sayings” you put in it.
    Have a wonderful Christmas!
    Nancy N H

  87. Amy says:

    This blog is a part of what I call my daily “Let’s Be Happy” practice (which I always need after reading the newspaper). Thank you for your contribution to more happiness in the world!

  88. Gina M says:

    I borrowed your sweet garland idea, Susan! Thanks! It came out darling and brought back memories of making our own Christmas ornaments, as children in the 60’s. I grew up with 7 siblings like you! My daughter-in-law and I love your books, art, recipes, and stories. BTW, still patiently waiting to re-read PANCAKES!

  89. linda tiller says:

    yummy brown bread and baked beans for Sunday supper! Funny that your Mom would have known of this New England delicacy.Your blog always brightens my day and re-enforces my own love of home.

    • sbranch says:

      I think its funny too, she was raised in Iowa, not sure if maybe that was why, or maybe she just got it from one of her girlfriends.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        We had the brown bread in the can when we were growing up in Iowa…some misplaced New Englander order it at one time? 🙂

  90. Janet Carter says:

    Oh, thank you, Susan for this post! I’m in the middle of decorating and I had kind of run out of steam. Now I’m ready to get back at it and decorate my little heart out! I’m so impressed with the wreath Joe made…you’d better keep him! The brown bread looks yummy. Thanks for sharing that. My husband loves chocolate chip cookies, so I will watch for that post. Thank you for being you!

  91. Susan Christmas says:

    Happy Christmas from Mrs. Claus!
    It is so much fun for me this month, being Mrs. Christmas! When we leave our name at a restaurant, no one will believe us!
    Loved the garlands and put out my traditional Danish flag garland my mother brought me from Denmark yesterday.
    Thinking of you with joy as you decorate your home and tree!
    You are a gift to the world! Thanks for all the joy you bring the whole year through.
    God bless, Susan Christmas in Long Beach, California

  92. Kelly in Oregon says:

    Merriest of Christmas wishes to you. You have me in the decorating spirit now!

  93. Nancy Rivera says:

    I read “Christmas Joy” and loved it!! Now I read your blog all the time. I love your Christmas decorating ideas.

  94. Cierra Pera says:

    Dear Susan, When I was a little girl, circa 1990’s my mother was introduced to you and she then introduced me. We have had your calendars every year since. It’s a little game we play, seeing which one of us can buy the other one the calendar first! We love your books, writings and Willard. My mother grew up in Massachusetts and she too would buy us the B&M bread. Such fun. Merry Christmas to you!
    Love, Cierra

  95. Kathy Thurman says:

    I want my house to look like your house! Beautiful 🙂

  96. Linda Schaich says:

    What a wonderful and blessed gift this would be, thank you Susan and Joe:o)

  97. Kathy Lombardi says:

    I have been a HUGE fan for such a long time – bought your Christmas book back in ’95 and have followed you ever since – love all your ideas, recipes, travels and notions. Emailed you last year about your calendars being sold out and someone selling them on-line for $200 – crazy!!! Also, love your cats – I will email you a photo of mine – lost all but 1 to coyotes – the mom was feral and I tamed her, she had kittens, but they wanted to be outside – miss them terribly – live vicariously through you and yours:) Merry Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh those coyotes! They are so hard on cats! I am glad to be here where there aren’t any! So sorry about yours. I have never let Jack out — I was going to, but several of my neighbors lost kitties to traffic this year, so I’m done thinking about letting him out. Not until he’s maybe 7 and not going to roam like I know he would do right now!

  98. Connie Martin says:

    I love brown bread in a can. I haven’t had any for years and just got back from the store. Now I have to go back 🙂 That Joe, is there anything he can’t do, of course not!!! I can’t wait to get the Yankee Magazine next year. I love that one. I have been getting it for years. What a cute cup. Hope I win! Oh, my local Benjamin Moore store was giving away free sample pints, and I copied your Kitchen colors, okay I did visit two stores, and got four free samples, and I am going to use those colors in my bedroom. Of course, I will have to purchase more. I am going to paint it after the Holidays! Thanks for making our days, weeks, years!

    Merry Christmas

  99. Nancy Mosley says:

    I hope it isn’t too late to enter. I just love your blog and the inspiration you give me each time I read it. It always brings a smile to my day!

  100. Jennifer Cooper says:

    Joe has inspired me to take my Christmas tree trimmings and whatever I can find around the yard to make my own wreath. I love the way you share Christmas memories in your decorating. Thanks so much!

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