Today?  BON BONS!  Cookies!  Decorations!  Jack!  Winner!  Red Letter Day! MUSICA!

Let’s start with the Bon-Bons, and really, let’s get to the number one Bon-Bon of the day, the winner of our drawing!  My MOST favorite part of a giveaway is reading all the wonderful comments you leave . . . it’s almost worth my LEAST favorite part, which is when I have to summon Vanna, like now . . . VANNA HONEY, GET UP DARLING, TIME TO PULL THE WINNING NAME  (I may have to go up there and stick the hat under her hand to get her to do this — she was out late, as you can imagine, she’s the Christmas Party Queen).  Oh, I think I hear her — she’s making tea, her new discovery is Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea with half and half; like all rock stars she has certain things we have to keep in the house for her performances, this is hers — we’ll wait, and while we do, let’s look at what the winner is getting, just one more time.  First off, this wonderful Candy Cane mug, with a lid and a wire basket to hold loose tea inside, and a saucer for your cookie!

And the little purse notebook with the Cardinals on it …. and of course,

Joe’s sweetest contribution; a fresh homemade wreath made with our garden cuttings, holly, boxwood, ivy; and pine from our walk in the woods, completely shot through with cold island breezes and salt air, not to mention Martha’s Vineyard magic, to grace the lucky winner’s home.  I also found a cute paper cardinal to put on it!  I’m so excited, because it’s truly so pretty, you are going to love it.  I wish I had about 4,000 of them, as that would only be fair. 

Oh, oh, I hear the shuffle of pink feather mules on the carpeting, here she comes!  Such a drama queen.  But nobody does it better . . . not a hair out of place.  She must think I’m (in my morning getup which I will leave totally to your imagination) something the cat dragged in!  Anyway, here we go, her arm is deep in Santa’s furry red hat, all the little names are swirling, she is taking her time to do it just right . . . round and round it goes . . . and now she’s pulling it out, names are falling away like a waterfall, and there, she’s got just one, between pink polished finger and thumb, the name, the winner, from almost 4,000 entries . . . ooooo, I’m so excited I can’t READ. . . . OK, calm yourself, here it comes:   OH!  The winner’s name is “KATHY O.”  The word “Iowa” is in her email address, so perhaps she is from Iowa.  I just sent her an email to tell her she is our prize winner!  This may have been destiny for Kathy, her comment mentioned that she lost her mom this summer, and her fifteen year old son has just finished radiation treatment; too much for any one girlfriend. So she could probably use a bit of cheering up, and here it comes.  I’m sure all you darling girlfriends join me in sending our blessings to Kathy … CONGRATULATIONS KATHY!!!   Hugs from all 4,000 of us!  Can you feel the love?

Which is very likely the reason Kathy won this drawing . . . XOXO

So, yes, we do have COOKIES (that bendy, chewy, chocolate chip recipe!) as our consolation prize, but before I give you that, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been doing.  Because you know that Yankee Magazine will be HERE tomorrow morning to photograph this house, so I’ve been decorating like a wild woman.  Joe too, like a wild man.  Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to . . .

Joe got a painter friend to help with his ladders, to get the decorations onto the house . . .

We do this every year; the only new thing is Joe’s holly over the top of the door where our fall pumpkins usually go.

I look at this and can’t help but think of the 152 Christmases this house has already seen.  I love that we’re doing our part for its 153rd.

Here’s Joe’s Santa’s Village next to the barn.  Looks rather professional don’t you think?

Of course I needed to oil my wooden spoons . . .

And I slipped in a little boxwood where ever I could . . .

I thought I would dress up my lamps a bit and so I used ribbon and sprigs of green . . .

And discovered my new decorating coup de grâce, a bon-bon if I’ve ever seen one — there are so many inexpensive and beautiful ribbons in the stores now — I just rummaged around in our old ribbon box and found these  . . . such an easy way to make things more festive ~ I thought you’d like it too.

Now, no lamp is safe from me.

I decided to make it look a little more wintery indoors, at least in the dining room, so I went around and shopped my house looking for WHITE things to decorate my sideboard.  I found a package of snowflake gift tags; turned the “two and from” to the inside and tied them to gold beads and to the lace runner.  I think this sideboard might be as old as the house — it’s really heavy, and came with the house when we bought it.  (If you peek between the O and the Y in JOY, you can see the E my darling JoEy put in there last year.)

I found a gold edged bird too, and some lucite stars.  Bon-bon city!  I was surprised at all the white things I had in the house, or gold or silver or starry, or something snow-like . . .

In the meantime, I worked around the kitchen too …. making star croutons here, for Christmas gifts . . .

While the King of the Refrigerator looks on, my best Bon-bon of all . . . Yes, he is ridiculously cute.

I used thin-sliced bread to make it easy to cut the stars out with my 1″ star cutter (this is one loaf); then fried them in about 3 TB of butter, being gentle so they keep their points, till brown; then I salted them, and let them cool.  Makes a wonderful bon-bon of a gift, delicious on soups and salads and they look festive too!

Bon-Bon Alert!  I made sugared fruit to decorate with . . . . such an old-fashioned decoration; have you ever done this?  It’s really easy.  Choose little fruits; if you can find the tiny Christmas Apples or Seckle Pears, they look especially wonderful done this way.  Our store didn’t have them, but you can see these small pears and apples look good too.

You can use tangerines, purple grapes, plums, and even holly (which I did, and it looks wonderful!).  If you’d like to try this at home, buy a pint of egg whites at the store, shake them well; use a basting brush to paint your fruit all over.  Sprinkle it with normal sugar first, then a little bit of superfine sugar (which you can make in your food processor if you can’t find it at the store; just whirl up regular sugar until it’s superfine!  I didn’t use powdered sugar, but I kind of think you could, you can try it — if it doesn’t work, just wash it off!).  Let the egg-white-painted fruit dry overnight before you put it in a dish as a centerpiece.

 And now, as you all know . . . there are

In the spirit of looking like Santa Claus (and even feeling like Santa Claus) . . . It’s time for . . .

Here’s that recipe I’ve been promising!  It makes about five dozen cookies — perfect for any cookie exchange!

The first thing you need is 2 ¾ C. broken gingersnaps the kind you get at the supermarket that come in a box.  Joe was in the kitchen while I was making these . . . it was his idea that the gingersnaps get smashed between two frying pans, which was an interesting way to do it; it certainly broke them up — but it also made two frying pans dirty (?), so it’s your choice, his way, or just break them up with your hands, (p.s. they are going into the food processor anyway) . . .

You can see Joe’s broken gingersnaps on the bottom, and mine on top —  There are only eight ingredients in this easy recipe, so I measured everything first.

Into the food processor goes the broken ginger snaps, a half cup of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder (I’ll put the recipe at the end of this post to make it easier).

Whirl everything until it’s finely ground — then set aside . . .

Put the softened butter in a large bowl; with a hand blender, beat in one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk until smooth.

Stir in the gingersnap crumbs, then add 1 ¼C. shredded coconut.

Pour in a heaping cupful of chocolate chips . . .

And the last thing, 1 ¼ C. chopped walnuts. Mix it all together . . .

And drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, pop them in the oven, bake 8-10 min. until lightly browned.  Cool on waxed paper.  Go outside, take a deep breath of fresh air; now pretend you don’t know you, walk back into your house and smell how good it smells.  Don’t you just love you? Exactly as it should be. 

I don’t think I have to tell you what to do next!  And later . . .

Last but not least, before I go, I thought I would show you our tree ….

It unfolded beautifully . . . . Jack was slightly enthralled when we first got it …. but now he’s thinking we have given it way too much attention, when what we should be doing is shooting his ponytail band for him.

Instead of decorating a tree, for heaven’s sake.  You note that Jack is not in the room and could not be less interested …. probably asleep somewhere.

“Jack!  What do you think of our tree?”

So that’s all for today!  It’s raining so hard outside, there is a river of water running down our street toward the harbor.  It’s supposed to be nice tomorrow, here on Christmas Island; cold and sunny.  Off I go to decorate the Peter Rabbit Room!  One more time, congratulations to Kathy on winning the drawing, and congratulations to US for all the new girlfriends and kindred spirits who’re joining us to celebrate the wonderful things in life.   I’ll be back after Yankee leaves to let you know how it went!  We will be having champagne then!  In front of the fire!  xoxo Love you Girls, Me

Here’s the recipe for the


  • 2¾ C. broken gingersnaps
  • ½ C. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ c. softened butter (one stick)
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1¼ C. shredded coconut
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1¼ C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°.  Whirl broken gingersnaps, flour, and baking powder in a food processor until finely ground; set aside.  Put softened butter and condensed milk into a large bowl and beat with hand mixer until smooth; add gingersnap mixture to bowl and beat well.  Mis in the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 min. until light brown.  Cool on waxed paper; store in airtight containers.

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

419 Responses to BON-BONS!

  1. Jackie P says:

    Congratulations Kathy! Enjoy. Susan, the house– inside and out– and the Christmas tree look so festive. Have fun tomorrow!

  2. Del Jean says:

    congratulations, Kathy O! So glad God directed Vanna’s lovely fingers to your name! You are especially in my prayers during this holiday season!

    Thank you, dear Susan B., for sharing your love of beauty, fun and friendship with all of us!

  3. Elizabeth from Pasadena, CA says:

    So happy for Kathy!
    Thanks for the tutorial for sugared fruit. There are bags of small, various colored pears at Trader Joes and I’m headed there after work to bring them home and make them magical. They will look lovely in my Grandmothers crystal bowl.
    I hope you have a great day with “Yankee”!

  4. Carolyn - Falalalalala! :D coming from Indiana says:

    CONGRATS to Kathy!!!!!!!!!!! Seems like a perfect fit for her to win! Thank you for the cookie recipes, Susan!!

  5. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Congratulations and lots of Christmas blessings to Kathy and her son. I thought your star croutons were the cutest thing since sliced bread until I saw Jack on top of the fridge surveying his domain in all its splendor. I loved the “E” that Joe added to “JOY”. He must be a great scrabble player. Have fun tomorrow. Can’t wait to hear all about it. PS I made a Merry Christmas banner for my kitchen window and it makes me smile when I look at it. Thanks for the inspiration. Hugs to everyone.

  6. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    Congratulations Kathy O !!!! When I read your comment, I said a private prayer for you and your family…..that you may feel…..hope, peace, comfort & joy! I think you may indeed have a guardian angel….for “joy” is on it’s way to your heart and home! Must yell at the t.v. tonight, during ‘Wheel of Fortune’….. “THANK YOU VANNA!!!” and if I see her smiling…..she for sure heard me! Sending hugs to you and your son……15 did you say?….wondering what he would think about recieving 4,000 hugs, from a bunch of women, he has never met before?! 😉 Keep in touch and when you open the box from Susan & Joe…….breathe in deeply ….. you will not want any of their LOVE and BLESSINGS to get away!!! ENJOY!!! 🙂

  7. Joann says:

    Your tree and so fat and jolly…………I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tomorrow is the big day? I’ll bet you’re thinking of just a few more things to make it extra super special, aren’t you? Don’t get sick now…no stressing. Take care of YOU….and Yankee magazine will be thrilled and over the moon with delight!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can’t wait for the update….



    • sbranch says:

      I think sickness waits for me — in other words, if there is nothing to do, I could get sick. Luckily there is always something! But just let me try and go on vacation!

  8. Patty from California says:

    What a wonderful blog, Susan! I’m going to try the cookie recipe tonight while my husband watches Monday Night Football – we’ll both be happy. And congratulations to Kathy! I’m sure she’ll love your gifts.

    Good luck tomorrow, Susan! We’ll all be thinking of you and the magazine people. Your house will be spectacular and so will you, Joe, and the kitties.

  9. Becky in the mountains of West Virginia says:

    Your home looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing when I know you are so very busy getting ready for tomorrow. I will be looking forward to reading all about it while I am sipping our champagne and warming our toes!

  10. Adriana Mazzini says:

    Congratulations to Kathy! She totally deserves winning. Blessings to her and all SB´s Girlfriends. Have a great Christmas everyone! Lots of love from Brazil!

  11. Sandra Gillanders says:

    Your halls are decked beautifully and house looks spotless. You are certainly something to aspire to but I’d die if someone came now to take pictures, lol! Tree is up and a mantle is decked out but that is it so far. Kitchen remodel going on, what WAS I thinking. Nice to escape to your world for awhile and enjoy all the pretty things you have done with the house. It looks wonderful! Lots of ideas too! I love your barn and Joe’s setup for wreath making. It is grand.
    Congratulations to Kathy, sounds like she could use some good news.
    Have a good time with Yankee magazine. Can’t wait to see the all the photos and read story. When will it be published?

  12. Vicki in Cincy says:

    HI! This was the first chance I had to write. The house looks gorgous! The tree is perfect and I love the ribbons on the lamps. What a great idea! I was at the little antique mall in my neighborhood, drive by 2x a day, not often do I get a chance to go in. OMGosh…I found the *cutest* glasses….is it mercury glass? light green with flowers around them, about 4-5 inches tall….5 of them 🙂 Thought of you the whole time. Lots of Beatrix Potter stuff, wonderful little glass cream and sugars like you use for your small candles. I could be sending you a lot of stuff today, but just letting you know you were with me and we had a great time! Good luck tomorrow! Everything is just perfect…it’s going to be a huge success….love you Girlfriend…and kiss little Jack. (love him on the top of the refrigerator!).

  13. Marysol says:

    Congratulations to the lucky winner!

    Susan, your house, your Christmas tree, your Joe, your kitties, and yourself ought to be featured in a magazine…wait.a.minute…never mind.

    Feliz Navidad a todos!

  14. Pamela Riordan says:

    Congratulations to Kathy O! So well-deserving and a reminder that someone always has it “worse”… I hope that your gift, Susan, will lighten her spirits. Kathy O – please know that this sister fan of Susan Branch is praying for a very special Christmas this year. Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe and Girl Kitty and Jack! xoxo

  15. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Hi Sue!~~
    I loved your Bon Bon post today!! How could I not?? 😉 And, Congrats to Kathy!!….. I am sure this beautiful gift will give her a much needed lift after the tough year she has had. What a sweet and thoughtful gift to cheer her up!~~ I can guarantee she will love it all!
    Your tree this year is PERFECT, and you and Joe have outdone yourselves in the decorating departement!! The Yankee people coming tomorrow will be blown away by all the beauty within the walls of your gorgeous home! I can’t wait to hear how it all goes. Enjoy every minute of their visit, and we’re all so excited for you, and Joe!~~
    Love from, another one of your favorite Bon Bons….ME!! xoxo

  16. Heather Wojciak says:

    Susan..Thank you for all the lovely and happy things. After each visit, I feel lovely and happy, too. Merry, Merry Christmas! (From Gloucester, Ma.)

  17. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    CONGRATULATIONS to Kathy, the latest lucky winner of Susan’s contest!!!!

    I’ve written down all the recipes that you gave. Plan on making them all this and next week. Can’t wait. I’m soooo into Christmas now. Your tree looks absolutely lovely!!! I’m surprised that Jack hasn’t tried to climb it yet, but it’s good that he hasn’t. Some cats just care less.

    I bet you are really excited about Yankee Magazine coming tomorrow. Not much time left to do much more decorating, but looks as though you are through.

    I’m anxious to try the oil on all my wooden spoons. I’ve been a very naughty girl and have never done that, plus I put them into the dishwasher 🙁 I’ll try to be better from now on,

    Carol M

  18. Kathy Phenix says:

    Kathy O you are so lucky to win this fabulous prize. But then, it sounds like it was your turn for some good news. Here’s hoping this is the bright beginning to a shining new future. But really, how close to we have to come before I win?? Once the winner was Kathy from Phoenix and now it’s Kathy O. Hey, remember me, Kathy P/ Phenix. My poor heart can’t take this let down much more. Just kidding! But, wow I really did another double take as a I rapidly scrolled down to see the winner’s name. Oh well, we still have the Dec 2013 edition of Yankee Magazine to look forward to. And we have all had a sneak peak already. The house looks so great, inside and out. Congratulations Susan and Joe. And of course, Jack. He’s the best decoration of all. Sure hope his smiling face is seen in the magazine spread. Merry Christmas, everyone. Love, Kathy Phenix

  19. Treese says:

    What a post! Huge! Your Christmas tree is beautiful. “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas”. We had a blizzard hit here in Colorado yesterday and it looks like a winter-wonderland. I have had a huge fire going in the wood stove for 2 days and letting Christmas cheer float around the homestead.

    Hey, I thought I was the only one left that ate canned brown bread!
    Merry Christmas from Colorado,

    • sbranch says:

      I’m ready for a blizzard!!!

    • Judy Young says:

      I haven’t been able to find the canned brown bread in stores near me in Texas. Last grocery store manager told me he hasn’t seen any of them in two years! Does anyone know of a store in Texas that does carry it?

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Judy – google “B&M Brown Bread where to buy” and you’ll see a big old list of possibilities. If no store in your area, your can order through the “Vermont Country Store” – no kidding, one of the coolest catalogs in the world! All kinds of great things we all grew up with and thought were gone forever – are NOT! :>)

  20. CarolK (Flemington, NJ) says:

    Congratulations Kathy, we’re all so happy that you won the prize this time. You’re in our prayers and that’s a powerful thing. SB, you did it again! We can shop till we drop and not even leave the house and I don’t mean on the computer either. LOL I just went shopping through all the baskets I have hanging from the beams in our dining room and found some mini baskets and dried, organic, squiggly basket grass that it will put in the mini baskets and hang them all on the small living room table tree. Also I think I’ll dangle the dried pommagranets I found in another basket in the same tree. What fun using what’s around the house. My mom gave me the nickname “Cookie” back when I just started to talk, as the story goes, and the first thing out of my mouth wasn’t mommy or daddy, it was, you guessed it, cookie. I’ve heard that word my whole life, still do because that’s what the cousins still call me. Anyway, you mentioned cookies and boy did I perk up and boy oh boy I can’t wait to start smashing ginger snap to make that recipe. You did it again dearheart! Now get a good nights sleep, if that possible, for your BIG day tomorrow. I’ve got butterflys in my stomach for you so I know everything’s going to be just fine. Maybe a glass of the bubbly for breakfast and a few deep breaths followed by a few ooooooommmmmmms will to the trick. You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine. Feel better? Hugs from NJ……

    • sbranch says:

      I’m better now…it’s gone really well, been more fun that worry, and soon, they will be gone, and our house will come back to us! I love that you’re shopping your house! I really think that’s the answer — we probably have all we need!

      • CarolK (Flemington, NJ) says:

        I know we do. I’m still amazed and at times overwhelmed with all the things I’ve accumulated over my lifetime. Sometimes I want to downsize my stuff and then I start to think of all the meaning behind 98% of it and just can’t part with it just yet. Woe is me….will that every happen!?!

  21. Christy from Orange County, CA says:

    Congratulations, Kathy! I am so happy you won. I wish you and your family a very wonderful Christmas and the best new year…EVER! <3


    I am so excited for you and Joe that Yankee is coming tomorrow! Your home looks so sparkly and loved. There are so many imaginative, cozy an old fashioned touches to your holiday decor. I really can't wait to see it all in print next year! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your cookie recipe. It looks wonderful…I will certainly add it to my list of baked goodies this year. Snowball and peanut butter kiss cookies are our family must-haves. I am excited to make divinity this year. We are calling it "Lucy's Divinity" after our sweet hen, Lucy, who recently started laying!

    When you have a moment…I have a few questions for you:

    1.) What variety is your Christmas tree? I just love it. It reminds me of the trees we had in NY. We always get a Grand here in California.
    2.) Could you include some close up pictures of your Christmas tree ornaments in one of your next blog posts?
    2.) Do you keep any type of a scrapbook or illustrated journal? Your blog is such a wonderful, personal journal. I just wondered if you kept anything in print for yourself?

    I know you're busy…honestly, I don't know how you get it all done AND take pictures of the process! Thank you for all that you do. <3

    Enjoy yourself tomorrow!



    • sbranch says:

      Joe says it’s balsam — I just took pics of the ornaments and … yes, I have something like twenty-two journals, some are “illustrated” but only maybe 3 are actually kind of cute, mostly they’re just scribbling.

  22. Pam T. says:

    It is utterly impossible to feel anything but joyful hearing that Kathy will be receiving a little Christmas Cheer right from the Heart of Your Home, Susan. Such things truly are guided by other hands I firmly believe. She needs a hug from her girlfriends and you are the vehicle to provide it. Congratulations Kathy!! And we hope you find much joy and peace in the memories of your Mom and the memories you will make with your son.

    Can’t wait to try those cookies! I’ll be adding all the necessary elements to my shopping list. I have to get ready for some “down time”, so I’m doing all I can to make the house ready and “user friendly” for the men in my life (hubby, 18 yr. old son and 11 yr. old son) so they can push “auto-pilot” while Mom’s out of commission. A batch of cookies would be just the thing to have ready for them don’t you think? Wish me luck!! (and by the way…if they happen to find that “auto-pilot” button I’ll make sure they write down where it is…cause I’ve never been able to!) LOL! 🙂

  23. Gert~Iowa says:

    First, Kathy O. I want to congratulate you on your win…I pray this will be a heartful blessing for you! And your from Iowa? That is wonderful…. Hello neighbor!! smile…

    Susan, I really love your home…how pretty…your simple decorations look so festive! The tree is breathtaking! And Joe..well…now that is a whole nother story! smile.. I wondered how he decorated your home! The heights? Wow! But now we all know and everyone just ‘loves’ it! Since I’ve made it my wallpaper I think of you each day when I turn my computer on and off! Your cookies look so good…I’d never have thought of putting ginger snaps in chocolate chip cookies! Interesting!

    Tomorrow will be an exciting day for you, we can not wait to hear all about it!


  24. Darlene says:

    Congratulations Kathy!!! I’m so glad that you were chosen for this very special Christmas gift!! Susan, both you and Joe are gifts to us all so we are all lucky winners!!! Your Christmas tree looks so beautiful and the sweet little touches around your home make it all come together beautifully. Those cookies look so good and I can’t wait to bake them. Good luck tomorrow!!!! xoxo

  25. Betty from Virginia says:

    *Congrats* to Kathy!! Susan, you tucked so much Christmas Inspiration into this post!! Thank you for sharing all the beauty. I love how you are using the boxwood sprigs with the lovely ribbons and your tree is gorgeous!! And Jack is adorable as always. Thank you also for sharing the cookie recipe! My mouth was watering as I read your charming tutorial. : ) En*JOY* the photo shoot! Yankee magazine is in for a real treat!!
    Love and Merry Christmas Wishes!

  26. Mary McCatherine says:

    Your tree is gorgeous! I have always loved the watercolor painting of a Christmas tree, but the real thing is delightful! Have a Merry Christmas!

  27. Susan Martin says:

    Great job, Vanna! Merry Christmas, Kathy – I’m very happy for you!



  28. Dee Van Ingen says:

    First of all…….THANK YOU for today’s “musica” selection!!!!! My husband was in the US Army…..stationed at Schofield Barracks (island of Oahu) ’83-’86. Our FAVORITE Christmas tradition while living there was to head to the beach EVERY Christmas Eve afternoon and ENJOY the beach……..your “musica” brought back wonderful memories of those days! Our house is decorated for church youth group to come for a progressive supper entree at our house this weekend…….tree is up but still “nude”…..that will change in the next 24 hrs! NOT going to be as BEAUTIFUL as yours, but will bring us much JOY! Cannot wait to hear about your Yankee Magazine experience!!!

  29. Patty says:

    Oooh! My Christmas gift to myself just arrived. . . Susan Branch’s Autumn book and two Gladys Taber books! Can’t wait to dig in. Don’t you just love being able to find out-of-print books on-line? Another SB connection and I’m so happy! Thank you.

  30. Holly says:

    A big CONGRATULATIONS to Kathy O!! Vanna picked just the right name this time I think! Kathy, add me to the list of GF who will keep you in my heart & prayers this Christmas.

    Susan, my favorite pics are the outside of the house with the wreaths on the barn, and the greenery on the front! Your sideboard is my next fav though! Then…. (really my first fav) has to be JACK… the best holiday decoration of all!

    Our decorating is at a minimum due to my new kitten just learning to climb, oh joy. She follows me from room to room all day long, and sleeps on a little fleece blanket next to my pillow…. just too cute. My grandson, who never saw a kitten before was amazed, and said “WOW! shes a mini!” It took me a while to explain and for him to believe she was a baby, not a mini cat! 🙂

  31. Martha B says:

    Congrats to Kathy. Am sure she’ll enjoy those special gifts.
    Can’t wait to hear about the Yankee shoot! Suppose we’ll have to wait till Dec. 2013 to see it in print?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, but won’t that be fun, we will have forgotten and then, oh boy! At least I will have forgotten and then Oh boy!

  32. Martha B says:

    P.S. Your tree looks beautiful. Love how it reflects in the mirror. Actually, we always get good “shoots” from your blogs, like a magazine in themselves.
    Merry Christmas!

    • Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

      What a perfect blog. Only thing missing was Girl Kitty. Congratulations to Kathy from Iowa! I hope your gift brings her a smile. Thanks Susan for sharing all your wonderful cooking and decorating ideas. We had some rain here yesterday morning, but by afternoon it turned to snow. We sent it your way to help set the mood for the photo shoot.

  33. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    PS – Sue, just wondering what you do with all the leftover bread crusts etc from Star Croutons? Lots of nice fresh breadcrumbs?

    PPS – I wrote earlier this pm but I think the blog gremlins are after my comments again [second time in 2 weeks]. Not that the world of literature will collapse upon itself or anything without my golden contribution! :>) But a pox upon those gremlins and their mischief!

    • sbranch says:

      Yessss! In the food processor and now in the freezer! No blog gremlins, just been so busy getting things ready for tomorrow, I haven’t been able to do the “approvals” — there are over a hundred here right now, and I like to read them, so I will get there asap!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Oh good – I always worry that there could also be an outgoing problem on my end too. Do not even think about them – finish up your “Yankee” preparations, have a long hot soak in the tub and some tea and ree-lax [as much as you can at least]. If a national magazine was coming to my house, I think/I know I’d need sedation… :>)

  34. Karen says:

    Your tree is beautiful and Jack is so cute……………….. : )

    Congrats to the winner.

  35. Ginnie says:

    Congrats to Kathy – sounds like the perfect recipient! Thanks, as always, for sharing all the beauty and deliciousness with us. Have fun with the Yankee people!

  36. Brenda Caldwell says:

    Congratulations to Kathy and prayers for her son…Such a deserving winner! I love the ribbon and greenery adorned lampshades, so homespun chic! I made a Christmas pennant sort of like yours for my kitchen window and had my hubby make me a wreath. It turned out pretty, but he says he can’t wait for your tutorial on making one, lol. Good luck with the photo shoot tomorrow!

  37. Christina (Pennsylvania) says:

    I’ve been a fan for years although never have written until today – I have most, if not, all of your beautiful books – first one I bought was just for the art! I spent the day in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania with my husband who has just been diagnosed with a melanoma on his jawline – the angels have been with us however as it is very treatable and is not even in a “stage” at this point – just on the skin surface. I “put on my big girl panties” today and pretended to be strong for my cutie – listened to the doctors, asked questions, took notes and pretty much prayed most of the day…at one point, my little plastic angel jumped out of my pocket in the doctor’s office as I was removing my coat (I think to remind me she was still with me!) …was totally wiped out when we got home so heated some homemade soup and after dinner sat down to check emails and put on a cup of tea to read your blog. It was beautiful to look at all the festive decorations and receive that cookie recipe and I was so happy to read that Kathy won your latest giveaway after all she’s been through. Just wanted to tell you that you are such a wonderful person, so lighthearted and generous to your girlfriends and to thank you for ending my stressful day on such a beautiful note! A reminder to all your fans, if anything looks suspicious or has changed on your skin, get to the dermatologist!

    • sbranch says:

      Very good message Christina … and so nice to see you here! xo Thank you!

    • Cyndi in NC says:

      Bless your heart! You and your husband had a ruff day for sure. I know how that is, my husband has had a couple of days like that too but not melanoma but Basel cell. Thank goodness you all got in and got it checked out. Yes it is very important to have anything that doesn’t look right checked out. I’ve have a couple of precancerous places found early. My grand father died of melanoma, it is not something to fool around with. Again, glad you had good news today. *S* You all take care!! It is the season for miracles!!

  38. Jane Alexander says:

    I still can hardly believe that I can be a friend of Susan Branch, and almost feel comfortable being in her home, enjoying each room, and the yard. Honestly, Susan, you have no idea how special you make all of us feel, by sharing this wonderful home, and all of your, and Joe’s ideas. You folks amaze me, because I just don’t do projects. BUT, i do decorate Christmas trees. So, I gotta go get myself busy. I pray tomorrow goes exceptionally well with the Yankee folks. How blessed they will be to be there in person! God loves us all!
    Jane Alexander

  39. Cyndi in NC says:

    Congrats Kathy, enjoy. The tree looks beautiful as always, I know Jack approves. Have to try the cookies, right up my alley. Maybe I’ll get my tree up, just haven’t felt up to it, maybe the next day or two. Oh and I love Joe’s workshop. He did a great job with the wreaths. *S*

  40. judi says:

    Congratulations Kathy and our prayers are with you.

    Susan…WOW, your house is “Sunday School” ready:) Did Joe reach outside from that top window to place that wreath and the swag on the tippy top of the front of your house??? Your warm & inviting home looks like a Currier & Ives? picture:)

    Love what you did with the lamps…hmmmm…might just cut some of that rosemary from my bush:)) The tree, perfect shape and perfect area for it…just lovely. Your sideboard is a delightful place for your creative display – whites are always “right”.

    Had to run errands all day and soooo funny, our local post office “branch” that is inside of a store – WAS OUT OF STAMPS. I just had a box and a handful of Christmas cards with me so he put metered mail on the cards. Knew today would be a zoo at the p.o. but had to get some Christmas stamps – will check again tomorrow.

    Tomorrow making your spiced pecans and hope to try your yummy new cookie recipe soon. You sure love coconut, don’t you:))) Wish your temps would have dropped below 32……had it been snow instead of rain…uff da! Have a FUN day tomorrow. Can’t wait to hear all about it. xxxooo judi

  41. Donna Ray from Hamlin, NY says:

    Vanna may be a prima donna, but she sure knows how to pick the right girlfriend to win. Congratulations, Kathy O! Like the lyrics say, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”…… and may your troubles be over soon. Sorry about your momma. No matter how old or how sick they are, it is so difficult to say goodbye to our mothers. Remember: Love never dies.
    Susan, your sideboard is just delightful….so frosty and layered with sparkle. Love that you “shopped” your house and have shown us, once again, that it’s creativity and domesticity that make our homes so special……not buying new, but rediscovering, revitalizing old.
    Our house is downright junked up with little surprises (elves in corners, reindeer on tabletops, books & puzzles tucked here and there, etc.) for our 4 yr old granddaughter to discover. Can’t wait until she finds the chicken in a Santa suit that starts singing We wish you a Merry Christmas then morphs into the chicken dance! Eva loves the chicken dance, elbows flapping, tooshy bouncing… cute!
    We’ve been promised a few inches of snow tonight here on the shore of Lake Ontario. When it starts I’ll go out and shoo it your way for your photo shoot tomorrow. Susan, you are gonna love the rest of December enjoying your cozy, clean home!
    Thanks for the terrific consolation prize. I have all the ingredients except gingersnaps… wondering if a box of Vanilla Wafers would be an okay substitute because I’m just dying to bake tonight, run outside, catch a flake or two on my tongue and come in sniffing. Your ideas are the best, Susan! Thanks ever so much.
    As always, DonnaRay

    • sbranch says:

      She’s a Prima Donna with a golden heart! That’s the thing I love about her. I suppose vanilla wafers would work, but then you miss that gingery thing …

  42. Jane F. says:

    Congratulations to Kathy O. Hugs and prayers for some special Joy this Christmas.

    My aunt has given us Yankee Magazine as a Christmas gift for years! I’ll so look forward to seeing your article next Christmas! The cookies sound wonderful. I plan to make some! And the ginger is a nod to my Swedish ancestry, which I am highlighting in my decorating scheme this year. I am making your word garland for the fireplace mantel with the words “God Jul”! I’ll send a photo!

    Thank you, Susan, for all your great ideas!!

  43. Elly says:

    First of all, congratulations to Kathy O from Iowa! May she be blessed by your wonderful, loving and caring gift!
    Second, I think you are AMAZING! I can’t believe all the fabulous and creative ways you decorated your home in every season of the year! Where do you get the energy to do all of it? Granted, it sounds like you have the most accommodating husband, who lends a hand wherever he may! I just love “being” in your cozy home whenever you share it here in your blog.
    May the YANKEE people enjoy it as much if not more than we get to! You don’t even seem to be stressed by all the work; I guess Jack keeps you grounded!
    Have a wonderful day tomorrow! Can’t wait to hear how it all went~

  44. Pam G says:

    yeah-lucky Kathy O! Your house looks beautiful Susan and definitely ready for Yankee tomorrow-bet you are not even nervous!
    I for sure look like Santa Claus but would love to try the cookies, I do not have a food processor and only a hand electric mixer and blender-what do you think? I don’t bake much…… looks like the blending is all important.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s the grinding of the cookies that’s important — figure out how to do that and the rest of it is easy. Joe’s way was working!

      • Diana - Highland, IL says:

        Another way to crush the gingersnaps would be to put them in a large ziplock bag and use your rolling pin to crush them.. I do that with crackers and such all the time! Happy Baking!!! 🙂

    • dottie (in the OC in SoCal) says:

      Put the gingersnaps in a plastic bag and break them up by using your rolling pin to pound them into smallish bits and then roll and roll till they are fine enough crumbs? Worth a try.

  45. Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

    Congratulations and Christmas love to Kathy! Vanna sure does have a knack for picking people who truly deserve your gifts!! 😉
    While you are entertaining the folks from Yankee we’ll be going to Disneyland to celebrate my husband’s birthday!! That’s our favorite December tradition! Then dinner at Napa Rose!! We’ll be thinking of you!!
    Happy week everyone! 😉

  46. Susan (in VA) says:

    Your house looks gorgeous! I love the pale green walls with the white trim in your living room. It’s so fresh and clean-looking. The touches of red and gilt are great complements.

    And–you have a barn!! In addition to your cellar. How lucky to have all that storage.

    Thanks for including Jack pix in your posts. No matter what else is going on, seeing his little face always makes me smile. I finally realized that his eyes are exceptionally round, which gives him that comically startled look. But I suspect he really is a tad surprised by all the new wonders he finds.

    It’s been raining here, too, but not hard. It’s been foggy at night and in the mornings, tho, which makes driving interesting at times. Today, the temperature was in the upper 60s (!!) but will drop about 20 degrees for tomorrow. Still not bad for December. I’d be happy if it stayed this way all winter.

    Good luck with the photo shoot tomorrow.

    • sbranch says:

      Jack’s eyes ARE round … I’ve been waiting for them to change as he’s getting older, but so far, they’ve stayed round. I hope they always do! Drive carefully Susan!

  47. Kelley S. says:

    Congratulations to Kathy. I hope her prize brings her some cheer.

    I have two questions: how often do you oil your utensils? how do you keep your fresh greenery from staining your lovely furniture?

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmm. So far it’s not staining, I’m not sure why it would do that…but now I will watch for it. I oil my kitchen table maybe once or twice a year, and other wood things maybe 3 times — when they start to look pale and dry. I never put them in the dishwasher. But the heat from the furnace and the stove can dry them.

      • Kelley S. says:

        When I bought my Christmas tree on Sunday, the gentleman running the tree lot and I were not sure if my tree would be too tall for my living room. He told me if the branches leave green marks on the ceiling, a Mr Clean Magic eraser would clean it right up. You never know who or where the next helpful hint will come from. I guess this hint was brought us by one of Santa’s helpers. ☺

  48. Janelle says:

    Congratulations to Kathy! So deserving! Prayers and good wishes for her and her family. Thank you Susan for sharing all your beautiful pictures and yummy recipe!

  49. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Firstly – is that a word??? Anyway, congrats to Kathy! So happy for her. Secondly, your home looks beautiful inside and out! I loved seeing Joe’s work area. Looks like he’s going into the Christmas business and we should pull up and put in our orders! 🙂 Little Jack looks so cute on the fridge, looking down on all the action. The cookie recipe is so unusual but it really looks awesome!

  50. Doris Petersen from California says:

    Hi Susan! THANK YOU for the cookie recipe, it does sound very unusual, but I can’t wait to try it. Your tree is soooo beautiful. All your decorations are wonderful… especially Joe’s fresh wreaths. The front of the house looks amazing! Lucky Kathy O! and congratulations from all of us.

  51. Joan says:

    Believe it or not I don’t have a food processor! Would a blender work just as well for grinding the gingersnaps? Or doing it with a rolling pin between wax paper or plastic wrap?

  52. Wendy Louise says:

    Dearest Susan,
    You are so adorable and this Blog is the best by far on this big, beautiful planet ! Your Home looks so wonderful and you sharing it with us is such a gift. Everything you share is a gift, I am forever greatful. I am so happy for Kathy, she will cherish all her gifts for sure. Have a great time with Yankee tomorrow and Champagne tomorrow night infront of the fire sounds so lovely. Enjoy every minute ! 😉 P.S. I know you will !

  53. Kathy O, Pink feathered Vanna picked the most deserving winner! Hope and pray you and your son enjoy your presents for years and years to come! Susan you are so funny and giddy! This has got to be your longest fun filled blog ever! Yankee Magazine is going to absolutely love, adore, be extatic over your home! Your tree is absolutely beautiful! Jack looks like he would have rather you left it unadorned! He looks like he is being a statue on top of your fridge, so funny! Love the lamps, what a great idea! I can’t wait to make those cookies! Is that an old family recipe? What is the history on it?
    Susan, you and Joe did a wonderful job decorating your home. You will definetly deserve that champagne tomorrow in front of your fireplace and lovely tree!
    Hugs prayers and kisses,

    My two little green love birds are tweeting for you!

  54. natasha from the central coast of ca says:

    hi susan, im getting in here late today!
    thank you for sharing all the beautiful stuffs going on at your place.
    i am just lovin it!
    i am also very glad someone who really needed some cheer and good news won the drawing, meant to be! it will be like getting a hug from a girlfreind.
    the four stages of life gave me such a good laugh (and i needed it at work today) that i typed it out and posted it in our lil kitchen at work. thank you for that chuckle. the cooky picture made me drool. im definatly adding them to my baking list for next weekend. you are always so full of great ideas and homey cheer. thanks for brightening up our days!
    get a good night sleep tonight so you are rarin and ready for yankee photographers!

    nighty night


  55. Sue G says:

    Congratulations Kathy, what a wonderful for surprise for you. Loved all your decorating Susan, and I am looking forward to trying out these new recipes. I love the star croutons, they will make a great addition to the soup I am giving my family this year. Have a wonderful time tomorrow with Yankee magazine. I will be thinking of you as you share your home with them.

  56. Anna, Camano Island,Wa says:

    I’m so happy that Kathy O won all your wonderful Christmas treasures, a good sign that better days are coming her way. Sending her good thoughts and prayers for her son. — We were all winners here, I’m sure we all agree, More fun decorating ideas, yummy and Easy cookies to give as gifts, and all the beautiful Christmas pictures, what a glorious time of year. Wonderful ladies from all walks of life united in a love of all things good, and you, Susan sharing all your goodness and talent with us. God bless you and have a lovely Christmas time.

  57. Cindy says:

    1) Congrats to the deserving winner! 2) I cannot WAIT to make the cookies this weekend! 3) Have a wonderful day with the photo shoot 4) Thanks again for being YOU! Annnd…5) I want to snuggle Jack! He’s so darn CUTE!

  58. Jeanette says:

    Congratulations, Kathy! Good for you. So sorry for your loss and all you’ve been through. Hope you enjoy your fabulous treats! They’ll be the best pick-you-up!

    Have all my ingredients to make those delish cookies, thanks for sharing. Tonight I made my Egg Nog pound cake, it’s so simple and wonderful. Heard groans of delight from my sweetie and Dad as they ate it, still warm from the oven…tomorrow is cookie time!

    Your house looks mahvelous darling!!! It’s the epitome of gleeful delight at every corner! Love the lamp shades, how very clever.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow!!! So exciting. We’ll be with you in spirit! 🙂 They couldn’t have picked a better subject for their December feature – YOU!!!

    Jack is too darn cute for words!! He just makes you smile when you look at that sweet face!

    I’ve never oiled my wooden spoons before, can you share how you do that in an upcoming post, please? I’m curious…

    Big squishy hugs and bunches of love!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

      • Jeanette says:

        Absolutely, I’m delighted to share this simple, yet wonderful recipe.
        Eggnog Pound Cake:
        1 package Yellow Cake Mix (I use the one w/pudding in it)
        1 4 oz. Package Instant Vanilla Pudding
        3/4 Cup Eggnog
        3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
        4 eggs
        1/2 teaspoon groud nutmeg
        Confectioner’s Sugar for dusting
        Pre-heat oven to 350
        In large bowl combine: cake mix, pudding, eggnog & oil. Beat on low speed until moistened. Add: eggs and nutmeg. Beat 4 minutes until well blended. (batter is very thick and rich).
        Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake 45-50 minutes until pick comes put clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan. When completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar. Can be served as is, which is fabulous, with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. This is yummy toasted with a cup of tea too!

        I’ll check the link on the spoons, don’t know how I missed it, duh! It was a long work day…

        Hope today goes splendidly!!
        Much love,

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I would love that recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake Jeanette! If you click on the highlighted words under the picture of the wooden spoons, it will take you to the place where I told how I did it!

  59. Marilyn (Ohio) says:

    It’s chilly, rainy & so dreary here – this has lifted my soul (assuming souls can be “lifted”!)
    Your Christmas tree is just gorgeous. I’m sure Yankee Magazine will get some very fine photos (and cookies). Too bad we have to wait a year to see the results :(, but I know it will be worth it.

  60. Hi, Susan. I’m so glad someone as deserving as Kathy won. I hope the gifts bring her a measure of comfort to help her through such difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her. As for the rest of your wonderful post, thank you and I hope tomorrow goes really well. You will certainly deserve that champagne when everything calms down.
    I wanted to mention that I went to a cheese factory/store near Camden, Maine, and they were offering mulled cider. The owner let me in on her secret. She just added 3 or 4 (or to taste)of those Bengal Tiger tea bags from Celestial Seasons per gallon of cider and heated it. It was divine and perfectly seasoned and so fragrant. She said that the best part was it was so easy. I figured you – or Vanna- might like to try it!
    Finally, I can’t wait to try those ginger snap, chocolate chip cookies. I will use the triple ginger snaps from Trader Joe’s. They are the best, short of homemade.
    Love and happiness to all. Carolyn

    • sbranch says:

      I ADORE that Bengal Spice Tea, was drinking it when I wrote about Vanna, and decided she would like it too! Aaaah, the power of the pen! 🙂

  61. Susan (Grayslake, IL) says:

    Susan, you picked the perfect winner for this wonderful contest … Congratulations to Kathy, who sounds like she needed a special surprise and a hug. So hugs to you Kathy 🙂 … and to you Susan for tomorrow’s visit from Yankee Magazine 🙂

  62. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Good luck tomorrow when Yankee comes to your home!! I am so excited for you and Joe!!! Your home is truly a “Christmas Gift” to all who see it, today, tomorrow, and next year (in the December 2013 magazine). Your hard work wil be appreciated by so many!!!! Congratulations to Kathy…….God is with you always.

  63. Jeanne Hedin says:

    So very happy for Kathy O. Sending our warm wishes for every good thing in the future! Have fun tomorrow, Susan. We can’t wait to hear all about it. 🙂

  64. michelle a says:

    Congratulations Kathy!
    Susan, your home looks amazing. I really love your tree and the vintage look of it. Jack looks so regal from his post atop the refrigerator. Thanks for the cookie recipe it sounds yummy.

  65. Janet says:

    I wish that Yankee Magazine would make you a columnist. Then I would take the magazine again. Because…even though I live in CALIFORNIA! I am still a Yankee at heart!

  66. ms nj says:

    Hi Susan! Thank you for the cookie recipe. I look forward to baking them! Your Christmas tree is wonderful!!! It is perfect!! Thank you for sharing! ms

  67. Susan M says:

    Everything looks beautiful in your house. Good luck with the magazine people.
    Thanks for the cookie recipe, I am going to bake a batch soon. My Mom loved to bake treats that had Eagle Brand milk in them. I can picture her licking the spoon.
    Congrats to Kathy for winning the draw.
    Happy Christmas to all from Susan M

  68. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan…such a happy festive exciting post today….congrats to Kathy O….very nice!! Did a little research on Yankee Magazine and signed up for “Yankee Minute”, their daily (most of the time) online spot….so far, I just love it!! No wonder they are coming to you…..perfect fit!!! I cannot wait to hear how everything went….I think I’ve made nearly all of the recipes that you’ve ever printed, but I can honestly say I cannot recall the CCGC! I was making cookies tonight anyway(shortbread jam thumbprints) for our annual cookie swap tomorrow night, so I just whipped up a batch…(thank goodness I had been to Trader Joe’s…i had some good ginger cookies to smash up!!)…I tried Joe’s smash method, but had to resort to the wooden rolling pin and zip lock bag!!! DELICIOUS!!!!! and you were right about the aroma…my neighbor even came over and it 29* here!! Now there’s a testament!!! The house looks great and I just know that Yankee will LOVE their choice… got a new subscriber out of the deal!!! Good luck tomorrow….most of all..have fun!!!! know you and joe will….<3 <3 <3

  69. Jamie Mattingly says:

    Santa Susan and Elf Joe, thank you for a delightful post and generous heart. I will pray for Mrs. Kathy and her family, but I am sure you all brightened her day as you do all of us readers. Have fun with the mag shoot…

  70. Victoria Miller says:

    Yes, congraulations and hugs to Kathy, what a year she’s having! Very glad she won this delightful gift and hope it and the experience give her a big ray of sunshine and a dove with hope! Yet another delightful post. Yankee Magazine is one of my favorites; I used to love their recipes, then I got away from it for awhile. I’ll have to get back to see the article and pics of your warm, lovely home there on Christmas Island (and I believe it is!) The Jack and the tree pics are delightful, also on top of the refrigerator. Years ago I knew someone who had two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum (after the Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun, although I didn’t read them until years later) who slept on a big pillow she kept atop the fridge for them. Glad Jack didn’t see that big ladder outside! The house looks marvelous. I’m sure you and Joe and the kitties look marvelous. Where is Billy Crystal to do the voice when you need him? Oh, he’s probably off with Vanna, telling her the pink mules look ‘mahvalous, dahling.’ Have a wonderful day tomorrow! And everyday! Everyone!

  71. Stella says:

    I was unaware of the Four Stages of Life. Hilarious. You need to make that a Christmas card!

  72. Ginny Sargent - New England says:

    Everything is so beautiful. I got a kick of Jack’s face with the lighted tree behinds. Some wonderful ideas Susan.

    I am just loving sharing your Christmas. Good times and luck with your Yankee interview.

    Thanks again for keeping this fellow New Englander just loving this season!

  73. Linda says:

    Good luck with your photo shoot!! Your home looks so inviting and warm. The decorations outside are like icing on the cake. Your tree is the prettiest I have ever seen…… natural and lovely. I can’t wait to see the Peter Rabbit room. Jack is not jealous–he is just smart and knows how important that tree is to you and so is leaving it alone……cats are very smart. You have to be like a proud Mama with your house looking so All American! Thank you again for your including us in this fun process!!! Linda from Idaho where it was sunny and warmish.

  74. Sue says:

    How wonderful and congratulations to you, Kathy O.!

    Your house is just beautiful Susan, looking so cozy, warm and inviting! You must be so excited to have your house photographed! I can’t wait to see/hear how it all went. Hmmm.. wonder how Jack will like the photographers and all their equipment. If he thinks the tree coming in was an invasion of his “space” & attention…… but then, maybe if they are kitty lovers he will have a blast! 🙂 You said it right that he is ridiculously cute! Totally adorable! He must be irresistible when you live in the same house with him.!
    Now I need to go make my store list for your cookie recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  75. Chrissy Thrower says:

    Oh, Happy Congratulations to dear Kathy! You are the perfect winner Girlfriend! I hope you enjoy the very special prizes coming your way,
    A very fun, Christmasy delightful blog today, Susan! I couldn’t read it fast enough and then to savor and review all the sweetness again!
    That Jack! I hope he doesn’t decide to climb the beautiful tree! He has that mischievous look about him! What does Girl think of all of this?
    I cannot wait to make these cookies! Did you make up this recipe or is this a ‘family treasure’? XXOO Chrissy

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a combination of two recipes, and then, a family treasure!

      • Chrissy Thrower says:

        Here’s hoping for a wonderful day with the lovely folks from YANKEE! Your home is spectacular. The one we would all love to have on CHRISTMAS ISLAND. It exudes charm, coziness, warmth, and deliciousness…and heart! ‘break a leg’! We’ll all be waiting to hear! XXOO!

  76. Pam Bengier says:

    Hooray for Kathy! That Vanna is a pretty smart cookie.

  77. judi says:

    Thinking of you….have a super FUN day:) I left a comment on 12/10 at 8:30 p.m. but….says it is still waiting…..xxxooo

    • sbranch says:

      I just haven’t made it through all the comments yet Judi, and it doesn’t look like I will before these folks get here — but I will later for sure!

      • judi says:

        Oh, I don’t feel left out at allllll:) Was just thinking that I imagine they have a crew that comes before the shoot and checks it all out. And then hopefully checked out your wonderful caterer to have food “delivered” to the job:) drool. I will be really interesting to hear the process. With technology and digital everything that has to make it so much easier than in the “old days” of film. I’m sure they can just add snow/snowfall outside your windows (and you don’t have to shovel) whilst editing.

        I’m sure all of us will hear the clink of glasses tonight:)! xxxooo i couldn’t sleep this morning either – up at 3:00 a.m.

  78. mary spring says:

    …good morning, dear Susan !!…will be surprised if Jeanette doesn’t see your message on delivering the recipe for egg nog pound cake…LOL…..just sayin’…have a great day !!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Hahahaha, gremlins again, it kept coming up as “undeliverable” – I kept trying to deliver…when I saw those kajillion replies I tried to start deleting them, actually got THREE done! 🙂 But it was taking so LONG, I had to give up and go make coffee cake!

  79. Barb, EW ...CT says:

    GoodMorning Sue…..

    Not a creature was stirring
    Not even a mouse
    When “Joe” St. Nick
    Was decorationg up on the ladder the outside of the MV’s House

    “Sue” was inside Baking Away
    Decorating Every Room

    “Jack & Girl Kitty” were both in there places
    As the EXCITEMENT grew on all the GIRLFRIENDS Faces.

    Learning the “Secret” to the Chocalate Chip Recipe…mmmn
    Delicious “Ginger Snaps” you see.

    Then came Vanna with the “goodness” she bestowed for such a deserving lady named Kathy O. Congratulations to you!

    There was not a dry eye….as we all read this part of the blog, however we all want you to know Kathy O…..your in our hearts with warmth and prayer, sending you a virutal hug this Christmas Year.

    Now as I close my heart goes pitter patter… I know Susan & Joe you must already be up with so much excitement trying to contain, once everything is over
    you will Pop the Champagne! Here is a toast to both of you! YEAH!!!!!

    HUGS & SMILES BARB :):):)

  80. Georgie says:

    CONGRATULATIONS to Kathy! What a nice early Christmas present!

    Susan! Today’s the day Yankee comes your way! Yultide Anticipation Nostalgia Kitties Enthusiasm Extitement all rolled up into one!!!

    Your home is sparkling and shiny. It is shouting happiness, Joy and contentment!

    Thank you for a WONDERFUL post! I just had to drop by to say “Hi!” and XOXO
    YArdville, NJ

    • sbranch says:

      Christmas coffee cake just came out of oven, Christmas music playing…. thank you Georgie!

      • Rhonda D. says:

        If I lived at your house, I would feel just like I had died and gone to heaven. The only problem would be that I would weigh at least 400 lbs. when I got there. You are without a doubt, one of the most fabulous cooks I have ever come across in my life. I constantly marvel as to why you don’t weigh 400 lbs. from your wonderful cooking, sheer delight with life and happiness; because that is the recipe to add those pounds. You have a very good secret hidden away there. I think just smelling the coffee cake coming out of the oven would add pounds on me.

        • sbranch says:

          I am getting close to that 400 lbs is what it feels like right now. I just made Christmas Coffee Cake for this shoot, and the only person who seems to keep dipping into it is, you guess! But when they leave (using “them” as my excuse to keep it longer) — I will drop off what ever is left to my poor unsuspecting girlfriend across the street!

  81. Jackie M. says:

    Have fun today with Yankee magazine, Susan! Can’t wait to see the finished spread! Plus, I can’t wait to try the cookies — they look delicious! My favorite part of the entire post, though? Jack’s look of excitement at the tree! I laugh every time I see it! If that doesn’t embody the excitement of Christmas, I don’t even know what would! LOL!

  82. Rosinda says:

    Just had to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post! Bon-bons for everyone! Thank you for always filling me to the brim with inspiration. Have fun with Yankee Magazine today! Rosinda xo

  83. Sreekala says:

    Oh Kathy O., lucky you, congratulations! You so deserve to win the draw!

    Susan, I love sharing all the Xmas goodness through your pictures. Have a wonderful time at the magazine shoot tomorrow.

    I am still catching up on the archives and have reached page 46 – keeping tabs on it with a sticky note on my screen. Yesterday I showed my boys the video of Jack trying to put the ball in the shoe and told them all about Jack and Girl. My four-year old was so enamored of it that today he tried to wheedle our neighbor into giving us her cat! Hmm, probably time to get a Jack or Girl ourselves!!!

  84. Sue Rideout from Maine says:

    Oh Susan your house looks wonderful! My husband and I spent a wonderful evening in Portsmouth, NH on Saturday. Have you and Joe ever been to the Candlelight Stroll at Strawberry Banke? It is so romantic and so beautiful. Homemade decorations, vintage costumes, carriage rides, bon fire, carolers, brass music, Irish jigs, ginger cookies with warm cider and Father Christmas walking the streets. I can’t think of a more perfect way to enjoy the Holiday season. Old fashioned traditions at their best.

  85. Cynthia Pfledderer says:

    Congratulations, Kathy! Thanks for the cookie recipe, I will try it. 🙂

  86. barbara miller says:

    i could not sleep . it is 4:39 am here. so i came to your site and i found beautiful christmas dreams there. thank you for making my s;eepless night a bit more dalightful.

  87. You have SO much to read as it is so I’ll just say how EXCITED I am for you today and CONGRATULATIONS to Kathy!

  88. Lynn Cooper says:

    Congratulations, Kathy, and Susan, I can’t wait until next year’s Yankee comes out. I am a subscriber and there is no other magazine in New England like it. Joe did a great job making the wreath, and the house looks wonderful and cozy. My kitty, just last night, started sleeping on the skirt under our tree – so very cute. He’s such a little prince around here. Have fun with the folks at Yankee!

  89. Jan from Michigan says:

    Your house and tree are beautiful! I too plan on ordering Yankee Magazine to insure I will see Dec 2013 issue! Congrats Kathy! The beautiful gift from Susan will bring Joy! I ordered the tea cup and can’t wait until it comes! My first cup will be with a prayer for Kathy and her son. Hugs to all!

  90. Mardell Lamb says:

    Hi Susan,
    The house looks amazing! Yankee is going to have a ball taking pictures. Thanks for the scrumptious cookie recipe. Love the way you embellished your lamps w/ribbon & greenery. So sweet.

    That last picture you posted of Jack with his mouth open made me spew my coffee! LOL Hysterical!

    Congratulations Kathy! That wreath is gorgeous, isn’t it?! Lots of goodies headed your way. :o)

  91. Christy in SoTex says:

    The house is gorgeous. The tree is bee-you-ti-ful!!

    Good luck today. Hope all goes well!

  92. Pamela Jo says:

    Congrats to Kathy! You surely were the right pick for the gift! You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Enjoy your prize!

    Love the recipe, Susan! I want to try it this weekend. My mom is going to help with the cookie baking this year, as I injured my wrist and can’t stir any dough at the moment (tendon & nerve damage, but getting better with physical therapy). We’re planning on baking Saturday afternoon, and my mom’s favorite treats are those store-bought ginger snaps. I told her about the recipe and she’s excited…a great incentive for her to happily help with my baking!

    Really enjoyed all of the photos and your festive decorations! Glad to see that Jack is getting ready for Christmas, too! My new kitty, Clara, is very active and she’s already feeling right at home here. Her favorite holiday activity seems to be batting at all of the crocheted snowflakes on my tree…even though she has a floor full of toys! Kids and animals never seem interested in their own toys, but prefer everything else in the house! LOL!

    Thank you, once again, for all of your inspiration, Susan!

    Pamela Jo

  93. katherine says:

    “No lamp is safe from me”, you are a hoot! Thanks for being so generous with your words and your inspiration! love the pic of Jack and his tree expression. We decorate our tree tonight, we have had it set up for two days undecorated and so far our two new kittens have just played around the bottom of it, but there have been no enticing pretties hanging from it. So we will see. Take Care

  94. Suzanne says:

    Your house looks just beautiful Susan! Are you nervous with Yankee coming? I would be a basket case, but it sure looks like you have everything under control. Your tree is gorgeous and what a perfect spot you have for it. Could Jack be any cuter? I hope he gets in on the photos with Yankee after all he is such a ham! Thanks for the cookie recipe as well, I’m always looking for new ones and this one sound delicious! Congratulations to Kathy too, yay!!!! ~East Longmeadow, Ma

  95. Di Word says:

    Good luck tomorrow. I will be thinking of you. Everything looks just wonderful.

  96. Twila says:

    Sending Best Wishes and congratulations to Kathy O! Vanna couldn’t have picked a more deserving one! So happy for this bit of Christmas Cheer for her:) BTW Susan, could you tell us a little bit about Vanna? Maybe I’ve missed it somewhere and you’ve already posted about her! Just curious. Have a wonderful day today…….

    • sbranch says:

      She used to work on the Price is Right … or was it Wheel of Fortune? Anyway our Vanna is composite of all the lovely television presenters, the ladies who dress in formal gowns, decked in diamonds and pearls, and who spend their days in tanning booths and with pedicurists and wave their hands and arms around the prize refrigerator making it look so much more beautiful than it would look if it just stood on the stage alone. That’s Vanna! Every contest should have one!

  97. Marie M. says:

    Congrats to Kathy!! Thank you Susan for sharing that wonderful recipe and for as usual, a delightful and inspiring post.



  98. Mary says:

    Congratulations to Kathy- I think Vanna choose wisely. And what a wonderful post – all that fun and beauty and cookies! Wow! Best luck with Yankee, have fun. Am thinking of you.

  99. Sandy Schaefer says:

    What a cheerful blog post.
    Toinght, I shall bake cookies.


  100. Your tree looks beautiful. Good luck on the photo shoot!

Comments are closed.