HAPPY NEW YEAR GIRLFRIENDS!!!  Inserting my New Year Song for you …. What are doing tonight?  I’ll see you soon … I’ve been working hard on our book!  Happy 2013 to us, one and all!!! XOXO

 I thought, on this Christmas Eve, I would love to talk about Home and what it means to me.  When I was thirty-three, I moved to Martha’s Vineyard from California, and bought my first house. Musica?

Having a little house of my own was something I had dreamed of since I was a child.

It was a very small house, which I wrote about and painted often, even in my first book, but it was perfect for me.  I lived there alone with my three kitties for six years, learning what it was like to have seasons; I wrote my first three books at the dining room table in this house.  I know just how Natalie Wood felt in Miracle on 34th Street. I almost saw Santa’s cane in the corner at Holly Oak when I went in the first time.

The house was in the woods; every day I would walk out the door and down the dirt road next to the house to the water, to the same pond Joe and I walk past every morning now; our walk takes us to the other shore of that same pond.  Yes, the house had a name, Holly Oak, on a sign, nailed to a tree, and to me, it was a dream come true.  I was so grateful, I really haven’t ever “wanted” anything since, because right then I knew, I had it all.  Inside, “out of the wind and the rain’s way,” I could live my little life, plant my garden, feed the birds, make noodles and pie, read my books, raise my kitties to be fine strong young cats.  I felt safe there because no one could take it from me.  It was HOME.  I still have dreams about this little house. 

Since then have fallen in love with all houses!   And anything attached to them, like children, neighborhoods, porches, gardens, kitties, dogs, squirrels, birds, trees, fences, and I take pictures of them wherever I go.  I like big houses, but I like the little ones better.

A house represents family stability, but they seem to me to be filled with mystery. I think of them almost as a person, especially the old ones, imbued with the character of lives lived within; I’m pretty sure everything I do in my house adds another layer of character.  The newer ones, like my first little house, are like banks, and each holiday, each loving act, each cooking of a dinner, each creative thing done, even every sadness, is a contribution, so when the house is old, it will have character too. The feeding and care of a house is an important thing. Right now houses all over the country are being fed from the heart . . . with welcomes home!, crackling fires, music and colored lights, delicious smells coming from the kitchen, wrapping of gifts, families coming together, the light and excitement in the eyes of children . . . reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer there.  That’s what a house is to me. 

I’m sure pictures of houses like this were seeds of inspiration to bring me to New England.  This house speaks to me of love, comfort, safety, sturdiness, old quilts, corn pudding and pumpkin pie, tradition, surprises under the Christmas tree.  Old movies were such an influence on me, the curtains and wallpaper in the movie Dear Ruth, the cottages in Love Letters, Mrs. Miniver’s wonderful house, Diane Keaton’s house in Something’s Got to Give — her farmhouse in Baby Boom.  The way to sell me on a movie is to put a good house in it!

Look at the charm these people added to this plain little house.  It has to be love.

I take pictures of houses wherever I go, even speeding along on the train, through the window of our “room with a view” when Joe and I travel across the country.

Another photo I took through the train window, of this little neighborhood of colorful houses.  I see cup-a-sugar borrowing going on here. I keep waiting, when I show some of the pictures of the houses I love, for one of you to say, “Hey, that’s MY house!”  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised! ♥ 

I took lots of photos of darling cottages in England . . . this one has become a restaurant — don’t you just love restaurants in old houses?  New England has lots of them too.

I put a photo of  this house, which is next door to Jane Austen’s house in England (because how could I NOT!), on my blog, and Mary, the woman who lives there, DID contact me to say hello and tell me how surprised she was to see her house (and the closeup of her little dog. “Basil,” who was sitting in the window!).  The magic of the internet makes it such a small world.

Basil. English super dog.

There are two houses in this picture of our little cottage in California.

And this precious California house . . . I love festive people!

and of course, my own sweet home.

My love for home has branched out beyond actual houses or pictures of houses, to things that are like houses!

On top of my stove right now, I have two houses and a manger.

And this newest one, sent to me by the sweetest person, was added to the stove-top scene just yesterday!

And speaking of houses and home, I have shown you glimpses of my wood room before — it’s the smallest room in our house, a cozy room with wood walls, hence the name “wood room.”  It’s where we read, write letters, knit, talk on the phone, watch TV; where I update my diary at night…

. . . but it’s a little hard to photograph, which is the reason I’ve never tried to show it to you . . . it’s so dark, and the flash brings too much glare . . . so forgive the color here.  There’s something about this room you may not have noticed, but I’ve just given you two clues . . . do you see it yet?

OK, I’ll tell you . . . it’s just that all the pictures on the wall are of houses.  Homey homes, paintings and prints I have either done myself or collected in antique stores.

There are also old photos of the “house of creativity” I was grateful to receive from the previous owners when we moved in.  And when we go, we will leave these, with maybe a couple of our own.

So it’s clear, I’m house-crazy with love.  There are more pictures, above the hutch and on the other side of the door, but it’s too dark to see them … there’s also a small wood box, shaped like a house, where the roof opens, that I brought with me when I moved to the island; there’s house-shaped candle in there too . . .

Not that I really need very much to make the wood room cozy after this person settles in. 

Because there is nothing that cozies up a house more than a sweet little petty pet of one’s own.

So, of course, when I make a gingerbread house, it’s not very big and it’s not just a house, it’s a home.

These are dreams from my diary written (in the bad handwriting) long ago; I was just making a note.  Writing things down is a way to make them come true. A good way to start the new year.

And that dream, though not finished, is still in the process of coming true — so far, so good! So what would you think a person who was writing her first book in the firelight and Christmas-tree light inside this little house would decide to name it?  It would have to be something about the home.  And the kitchen, and the heart, and the connection between those things . . . of course! Heart of the Home!  Why didn’t I think of that?  Oh!  I did!

 You probably have everything you always wanted for Christmas right now, a little house of your own, out of the wind and the rain’s way.  But just in case . . . I have this book, and it’s looking for a new home!  So, if you don’t have my first book, or if you know someone you would like to give it to . . .  leave a comment!  There are lots of good recipes in there!  After the first of the year,  Vanna will draw a name, I will sign the book, and off it will go to the Heart of your Home.  You can leave as many comments as you like, because Vanna knows to only count each address once.  And I think I’ll come back every so often this week, and change the music, and give us a little musical tour.

And now?  Me and Jack?  We’re going to go cook up a storm.   Love and Blessings to you and yours and a wish for Peace for every little house on Earth.

Sending furry high fives. xoxo

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1,402 Responses to HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

  1. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ♥♫ Good Morning Sweetest Sue! 🙂 Yesterday I flew To This Blog & Read & Re~Read it…savored all Your Christmas Eve Magic…. Then I wrote My Comment & Poof it was “waiting moderation”… & I think I got Lost… 🙁 I hope You can find Me 🙂 I don’t want Vanna to Miss Me Cause I Do Not Have Your First Book….& Once again My Wings are Crossed…. 😉 Yay! 😉 it’s Cold Here…43 for Us Yay! all My Christmas Lights are Twinkling as I Hum ♫ On the 4th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me 4 calling Birds…♫(Tweet~Tweet~Chirp~Chirp)♫ 😉 are You Snowed in Yet? Warm Hugzzz & always Lots of Holiday Pixie~Dust! xoxo Poof! 🙂 L♥ve to You & Joe & The Kitties! ♥♫♥♫♥♫ P.S. What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Twirling into The Champagne~Bubbles! Splash! 😉 ♥♫

  2. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan~you’ve made a very sick (flu) me feel as good as a mug of chicken noodle soup. Just what I needed after too many days of being weak to see what was happening on your blog. Today, I said to myself, I just must, and so glad I did. While sipping my peppermint tea, I’ve now caught-up.

    Susan, I too, have always been captivated by houses and mostly small ones. As a child, I would always be able to tell in detail, the charming houses I visited with my family. I’m the same way about movies and homes; years later I could tell you exactly how the home was decorated.

    I love the common thread of the simple life you weave via your posts, into ours.
    Susan , you are our joy!

    Marie xo

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Marie, I am the same way when it comes to houses. I remember every detail of houses I have been in, and it comes naturally with no effort. Ask me the same thing about a car, and I am not that way… 🙂

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Hope you feel better soon!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Oh dear, Norm tells me I have “total food recall” as I can remember what I had to eat at anyone’s house years and years ago!!! I don’t work at that, either… 🙂 I guess I’m just a “visual” person! 🙂

  3. Caroline C. says:

    Lovely post, everything is so cozy and wonderful! My favorite part was definitely the handwritten page of your diary. What wisedom!!!! I would love a copy of your first book to add to my collection. I hope some day I can also have a copy of Autumn. Have a wonderful New Year!

  4. Nina says:

    Haven’t commented on here for a while Susan been too busy picking up the pieces of our lives falling apart a little. My hubby lost his job as MD of a company suddenly back in the summer and we had to leave our beloved barn home and down size to a tiny house for the time being…
    Like one of the other ladies were saying I too no matter where I live rental or not have to make it look like home right away. My question to you Susan is what would you do if you had to downsize What would be the most important things on your list? Would it still feel like home if you had to rent? As you can see I am struggling with this however I have visited your site often and it fills me with hope that one day we may have a home of our own again.
    Also just wanted to say I have met some wonderful friends via “you” on both sides of the ocean who have been so kind and supportive! I try & count my blessings each day and i know my troubles are minute compared to some but some days its harder then others. I hope you had a great Christmas Susan and I wish you & Joe a happy and prosperous new year! xx

    • sbranch says:

      I have rented, I have even rented just a room in a house, and I think you can always make it your home, cozy sheets, comforter. Now you can choose your absolute favorite things, and surround yourself. I have friends who lost their homes during the turndown in the economy 5 or 6 years ago; it took them time, but both couples are back in homes of their own. It will happen to you too Nina, and in the meantime, cuddle up with your life just the way it is. xoxo

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Nina, Several years ago my husband and I lost a house due to unfortunate circumstances. We rented for several years. From the time we lost the house, I only had positive thoughts that we would have another house. I did not look back. Well, we worked hard and we are now in our house 6 years. The lesson I learned is that a house is wonderful, but it is just a “thing”. Where ever you are, you make it home.. It wasn’t always easy, we had to keep some things in a storage unit until we got our house. The up side of that was when we did move into our house, it was so much fun going thru the boxes from the storage unit. It was like finding old friends! Think positive….

        • Nina says:

          Thank you Sandy for your encouragement, we have a lot of things stored away at my Father in laws but we did have to get rid of an awful lot of stuff! xx

      • Nina says:

        Thank you Susan, my mantra at the moment is “Its just a means to an end!” My hubby has another job thankfully but it takes him away from home 5 sometimes 6 days a week so thats something else we are having to get used too. However I’m looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring us and as a family all this has made us stronger than ever! Also you are right about favorite things I had to get rid of sooo much stuff but kept my absolute favorite things. xxxx

    • Tawni urrutia says:

      Good morning Nina!
      When we rented a house the best, easiest, cheapest way I could make it feel like “US” was paint! I made mock ups of the colors and paint treatments, took them to the landlord and promised to paint everything white when we left. It made all the difference…people were amazed at the before and after. “Love in a can” that’s what the right paint color is. And we didn’t have to paint anything white when we left! You are going to rise way above this tough time, and look back at the way you proved the phrase “bloom where you’re planted” to be one of your talents! I wish you and your family everything wonderful in the new year!!!❤
      Tawni Urrutia in Lodi, Ca

      • Nina says:

        Thank you Tawni I have met some wonderful people on here its so kind of you to comment. I am thinking of maybe doing a little painting after Christmas and I have all my “needful” things around me so its starting to look like home. Happy new year to you! xx

    • Linda from Lancaster, Co PA says:

      Dear Nina,
      I am sure it is hard. But I think you are on the right track when you talk about counting your blessings! Keep a Blessing Book while you are going through this difficult time. It is always hard to adjust especially when you are losing something very lovely like your home. Maybe by counting your blessings, it will help you see what is important to you. And just maybe those ideas will help you in decorating your new home. And yes, it can be a home. Once you start to make good memories there, it will start to feel like you again!

      I hope you have a good,new year!

      • Nina says:

        Thank you Linda I do try and count my blessings everyday (but what a great idea “a blessings book”) and I’m looking forward to seeing what this year holds for us. Happy new year to you. xx

  5. Diane C in IL says:

    This is a lovely post and I would be thrilled to have a copy of your book. I do have Christmas Joy. The moment I saw it in the book store, I had to buy it. That was when it first came out. I liked it so much that I bought one for my two younger sisters too. I was sure they would like it as much as me and it was the perfect gift.
    I’m showing this post to my husband. He’s always thought it was strange that I wanted to stop and take pictures of houses when I don’t know who lives there. He’s very sweet though and indulges me even when I want to take pictures of houses I have photos of already. One of my favorites is a house that was ruined by Hurricane Katrina. I wish I knew who lived there so I could give them a copy. I think you would love all the houses too, some grand, some small, and all with character. How neat that the lady in England saw her house on your blog!!
    Your garden in Calif. is lovely and I love the little house in the picture.

  6. Nina says:

    p.s Forgot to say Susan I LOVED this post! xx

  7. Bambi Miller says:

    I love this blog! I too am crazy about houses, I have been photographing them, often posing my pets and cars so that they are in the “house” photo too. I love old houses, old farmhouses are my favorite and the barns that often go along with them. Your pictures of the houses in England made my heart smile. Love all that charm! In high school (along time ago-1979) my leadership class teacher taught us this; “a house is only a roof over your head, it’s what you do with it and how you live in it that makes it a home.” I have never forgotten that. Thank you for inspiring us with all that you do.

  8. Hi Sue!

    When our daughter, Sarah Ellyssa, passed away, she left a wee little name sake, her niece, Ellyssa. Ellyssa inherited not only her Aunt Sarah’s name, but a rather large dose of Sarah’s “baking” genes.

    One of my favorite photos of “Lyssie”, (as I fondly call her), is the one where, in true toddler style, she’s sitting on the kitchen sink, washing the mixer bowl after helping her mommy bake cookies. The kitchen has always been Lyssie’s favorite room, and it’s where she finds her heart’s happiness! How I can tell? Because she sings! O, yes, Lyssie’s heart is the happiest at home, and when she’s in the kitchen, she’s in heaven!

    So, when I read your blog offering a signed copy of “Heart of the Home”, I had a light-bulb moment! What fun it would be to gather treasures from Sarah’s kitchen and gift them to Lyssie for her Tenth Birthday; hand-written recipes, baking bowls and cake plates, a favorite cookie scoop, even the apron Sarah wore as a little girl would be perfect to add to the hope chest passed down to Lyssie from her great-grandmother!

    There’s only one more thing that could make Ellyssa’s birthday gift more special, your signed book! O, my, her songs would then be “over the moon”!

    Singing from the heart of my home, to yours!
    Grandma Bunny

    • Debbie '51 says:

      Dear Grandma Bunny,
      First, I want to tell you that I am so very sorry for your loss. As I watch my daughter try to cope with the recent loss of her child I know that it is the hardest thing anyone should ever have to deal with.
      But – your post gives me hope. You have suffered the greatest loss and yet you are able to show strength. You have learned to carry on and be positive and even sing!! 🙂 You are an inspiration to me and I thank you for your attitude and the love you are able to share. I’m sure that time is a part of what we need, but a dose of a post like yours does wonders for me. Thank you!

      I hope that Susan’s signed cookbook will go to your Lyssie along with Sarah’s things. If not, maybe Vanna will dig deep and find my name and it will go to MY Lissy – my daughter. One of the things that she has been doing to occupy her time and her mind is cooking up a storm. One of the
      L(y)issy’s could just get a new treasure!

      Happy New Year, Grandma Bunny.
      From ♥Gramma Debbie♥

  9. melissa z rydzewski says:

    hi susan just wanted to tell you how much i enjoy your blog and books and calendars. i have enjoyed everything you do for years its all so cozy i am going through a divorce after 33yrs and reading your blogs and seeing your cats makes things more sunny i am also a lover of cats i grew up in connecticut and now live in florida so seeing the change of seasons brings back so many memories. your home and town seem so nice and you are like a treasured friend. so thank you and happy new year to you!

  10. Laura B. says:

    I finally have some time away from retail and am ready to work on giving my home a little more character. TIME at HOME….. the best present one can have this time of year. (or anytime for that matter!)

  11. Aggie says:

    Hmmm….don’t see my post of yesterday – gremlins again? Happy 2013 to all!

  12. Caroline says:

    One of my favorite posts of yours! I am also an advocate of taking pictures of inspiring houses I have the pleasure of seeing. I even did that when I was little! I remember going on a trip to visit family in Fargo, ND and being surprisingly enamoured with the old houses in town…there are truly some gems! I think that trip started it all.
    I would love to add to my Susan Branch book collection!

  13. Eurika says:

    Merry belated Christmas. Please choose me. 🙂

  14. Susan, I found your blog so heart warming. A home is everything you say it is. I been fortunate to Marry a man that felt the same way. He built almost all our homes. Talk about memories,they all have Love built in them. One house many years ago when our children were little and before we wall papered.,the walls we let our children write and draw on the wall than we wall papered it. Plus we dated it. Well years later a couple bought the home and decided to change the paper. When they saw the wall they decided to have there children do the same thing. So memories go on .

    • sbranch says:

      I have a girlfriend who moved and took that little piece of wall with her!!! Just cut it right out of the wall! Then hung it in her new house!

      • audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, Missouri says:

        One hot St. Louis summer after schlepping our children to every attraction in the surrounding area I had run out of entertaining for free ideas. I uttered the words, “Let’s paint the bathroom!” Three kids, six rainbow colors of paint later we had a wonderful border that circles the walls in a handprint design. The kids had the most fun they had all summer and the design lives on to this day. I am pretty certain I will never change the decor in that bathroom, although I am considering the addition of a footprinted shower curtain of grandchildren design!
        I imagine many of us have “growth charts” on a wall somewhere in our homes? I was delighted the other day when I noticed my daughter has begun the tradition in her home as well.

  15. Mazy from Maryland says:

    Have dearly loved your posts, pictures, and books for years! Thanks for keeping our eyes on the true beauty of life. Your blog makes me smile every time I read it! Happy New Year to you and those you love.

  16. Tamara Davis says:

    I was feeling so discouraged, paying bills, but I took a break and read your post all about home– and realized that it’s all okay! The bills are all part of keeping the home going, and thankfully, even if I’ve struck a rough patch, it will ultimately be okay. I’ll keep my house warm, I’ll manage to get a new roof, and I’ll try to stay cheerful even if the money is short. Home is certainly worth it. Thanks Susan!

  17. cynthia says:

    Anyone can own a house but it takes love to make it a HOME! I live in Canada and decided to do a English custom of naming your home, I called mine Squirrel Cottage because we have three rambuncious grey squirrels that call my garden shed home. On any given day they delight me with there antics of stealing seeds from the bird feeders outside my windows. And outside my large back windows I study red finches that come to dine. Iam so content to be at home and be entertained with nature. Thankful to have time to knit, read ,savor a cup of eggnog coffee and the pleasure of peace, all is well in my world. Thankyou God, and thankyou Susan for the sharing of your thoughts. They’re lovely and warm and calming, just like YOU!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      ~Hi & Good Morning~
      I have thought about naming our “dream home” when we found it and realize that I have been living in it for the last 29 years!
      It’s been in my husband’s family for 105 years~ 115 really because great grandpa bought the land 10 years before he built it~ it never seemed big enough~ it’s in the city & I’m a country mouse~ I would love a big piece of land and a barn~……..
      All the things I really thought about this house being not truly being “our dream” actually make it one~ perfect now for our empty nest~ which fills up to the rafters at least once a week with our children & grandchildren~ 6 generations of celebrations ~
      I am loving our dear, sweet, old always needs something ~ just right home ~ I’m going to be painting a sign with our “dream home’s ” name ~ what I know now that it’s always been ~Where the Green Grass Grows~yes as in the song~and putting it where everyone~ especially me ~ can see it!
      ~Happy New Year~

  18. Diane P in Northern Cali says:

    Thank you, Susan, for a peek into your wood room!
    What a wonderful idea, to collect images of homes ~ including your own home, and your own art! I love it!

    I have been devouring your books since I first “discovered” your pages in Country Living in the 1980’s ~ I ran right out and bought your first two books! (I now have almost all of them 🙂 AND I went straight to the library to get everything they had written by Gladys Taber.

    When friends and family compliment me on my cooking, decorating, table-settings, letters, etc. etc., I give full credit to you! I learned some from my Mom, but I learn/ed so much more from reading your books (and now, your blog too!)!

    I visit your blog almost daily and if there’s not a new post (sometimes even if there is!) I re-read the old ones. Taking a break at work now (I have to work on my birthday, wauuu!) I just re-read this one. Ahhhh, hooooome!

    Which inspires me to mention one of my favorite guilty pleasures (I think we have this in common?!); when Mr. P and I take our evening walks around our little neighborhood (the same neighborhood I grew up in!) I love peeking in the windows to see how others have decorated their homes. Some are so cozy and warm and welcoming, it’s tempting to just go knock on their doors and introduce myself!

    Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year!
    (wow, how the heck did it get to be 2013?!?!?!)

  19. Amy says:

    I was 40 years old before I moved into MY first house. I remember when it was a vacant piece of wooded bliss and my husband and I were giddy with excitement over the fact that each tree was OUR tree… and would be here long after we were gone, in many cases. All my life I wanted a house – a solid, permanent home where I could hang pictures and paint and make it ours and have a love affair with for the rest of my days… and before we had one – I decorated with pictures of houses.

    I waited anxiously for our new house to smell like and feel like “home” instead of a new house. And now, there’s a little yellow sharpie mark in my kitchen from my grandson, and a scuff on the living room wall from the rocking chair. There’s dirt in the stone around the fireplace that will never be cleaned away… it’s impossible to reach without a thorough “dunking.”

    My first visit here, and I’ve loved it!

  20. Debra says:

    Love your website, and am looking forward to reading more of your blogs. What a heart you have for home, so nice to see so many “kindred spirits!” We were military for a long time, have always moved a lot – so I learned early to hang pictures on the walls rather quickly and settle the kitchen & bathroom areas first thing ~ THEN get more settled in as we went, and make each place “our home.” I LOVE your love of houses/homes and all that you share.

    My daughter, Amy Gonzalez, introduced me to your books and site this past month. What a an incredible treat. We too are about home & hearth (with a cat AND a dog @ home)… I could spend days on here, reading & dreaming. Wow!

    Thank you Susan for sharing your creativity so well, and inspiring us all. May you have an abundantly blessed and joyful New Year 2013, with lots of new adventures!

  21. Faith rose says:

    Dear Susan I’d love to get your book but i already have one but this one you signed and id love that to. So put me as second [if thats possible] i dont really need it but i want it or i could give it to someone. Oh but im getting ahead of myself i haven t even gotten it!If your brain is a little slow today this means sign me up! Thanks for hanging in there! Faith

  22. Elaine Holiday says:

    Dear Susan, I also love houses. Even as a child my favorite thing was visiting family and friends, mostly to see their home and where they lived. Even today as I remember these precious people I associate them with their home. My favorite was
    my Greatgrandma’s victorian cottage. Many, many happy memories. I have tried to pass on special memories for my children and grandchildren. Thank you so much, I love your blog and photos!!! Happy New Year

  23. Christine Polkovitch says:

    Oh Susan, I absolutely love this blog entry! I little in a small house, but it is very cozy and homey! I’m so glad I’m not alone in my love of small houses! Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!!

  24. Shanna says:

    This post says exactly what I feel about home. For many years, after Thanksgiving dinner, my family would walk around our parents’ neighborhood, looking at all the houses and yards, commenting to each other about different features we liked, and sometimes glimpsing families sitting down to their Thanksgiving meal. It always made us feel a connection to all those other families and homes.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful homes with us. And Happy New Year to you, Joe, Girl Kitty and Jack.

  25. Rae Ann from northern Michigan...now in Minnesota... says:

    Helloooo Susan~Just checking in for the first time since hubby and I have traveled from MN to MI to spend the Christmas holidays with our kiddos and grandchildren…had a wonderfully busy and full holiday…we are off tomorrow to northern MI to see the progress on our “final forever home”…the retirement home we are building next to our un~winterized 106 year old “on golden pond” type cottage…it has been exhaustingly fun to choose everything~we aren’t done with the choices yet~and work with really good experts in their fields…the precious people of our little town who are helping us turn a green lot into our forever home…finally…my hubby has worked long and hard and I have moved with him to three states in his career…sticking with him through thick and thin and going to places I didn’t want to go to live because we have been stuck together like glue since I was a freshman and he was a sophomore in high school…almost 51 years now since we first met, fell in love, went to different colleges and then married into wedded bliss/most of the time!!!…so I really loveloveloved your blog on houses…we have had our share and now we will be moving to our forever home in the fall…can’t wait…I’m counting the days…HURRAY!!!…xoxo…Rae Ann

    • Diana - Highland, IL says:

      Oh, how wonderful Rae Ann!!! Congrats on your new home! How very exciting to be able to have a new home just where you want it!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  26. Debbie Snyder says:

    Susan! Happy New Year to you and yours!! I live in a house that is in constant renovation mode, so to see these lovely homes make my heart glad, and gives me hope that mine will one day be totally and completely finished! (Is that even possible)? Anywho, would love to win your beautiful book! Count me in, Vanna!

  27. I cannot tell you how much I love your blog, your books and all of your stories and drawings…they have been a part of my life for a long time…I would be so happy to receive your signed book…I have so many of your books and have given quite a few as gifts to my daughter, my daughter-in laws and my girlfriends…you have brought so much joy into my life…thank you Susan….
    hugs and blessings, Carol

  28. Jocelyn says:


    You are the most comforting spot on the internet! I check your site daily and it NEVER disappoints.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


    PS- Here’s a random question…when you send friends and family cards (birthday, christmas, etc.), do you send your own work or do you buy cards?

  29. Anne Rowe says:

    STILL hoping at age 73 to buy our 1st home…health issues delayed my househunting other than by internet, but I could not walk well so how does one peruse a property if they cannot do that? Hmmm….anyway, one more surgery to go in a week, and while I recuperate, I will read your blogs and continue to look at internet offerings for homes, and God willing, will have one by 2013 as cozy as those you have shown us from across the pond and from the Cape…what wondrous things we can see by logging on that were NEVER possible before. Thanks SO much for your friendship and your creativity and Joe AND your kitties…we enjoy ours so much and just LOVE Jack’s moustache!!! Have a wonderful New Year…can’t wait for the diary to become available! Please enter me for a chance at your first book…I have many of your scrapbooking supplies, notecards, and a few books, but not this one…… Brrrr…NH is very cold tonight, with still a dusting of snow on the ground!

    • sbranch says:

      SO lucky to house hunt in the comfort of your chair! Who would have imagined! Good luck with that last surgery! Get well soon!

  30. Brenda Scinto says:

    Although I have several of your books, I do not own the first one! I, of course, don’t have an autographed copy of any of your wonderful books, so Vanna – please put me in the spinner!! Thanks Susan! <3

  31. Debbie says:

    Love this, Susan! I just love a cozy home that has the charm of being well-loved. Occasionally I feel the twinges of wishing we had more room or nicer things, but I feel them less and less as I get older and instead I cherish our own little slice of heaven more and more. Authenticity, love, and warmth…priceless!

  32. Karen C says:

    Tell Vanna to add my name to the drawing! Happy New Year girlfriends! Hugs Karen C

  33. Mary Ann Wasser says:

    Belated Merry Christmas, Susan. I am late, as we’ve been traveling. Thank goodness, I found a computer long enough to check your blog. I am feeling very homesick and more than ready to head home. Reading your blog today (all about “home”) has made me even more homesick. I have a saying on the wall of my bedroom that says “There is nothing like being at home.” Boy, ain’t it the truth! We will arrive home late on New Year’s Eve, so I will wish you a Happy New Year now while I have the chance. 🙂

  34. Gail Marie says:

    Home st-annrcc.com/index.cfm?load=event&event=157
    I don’t know the artist of this painting, but it truly describes that beautiful feeling of ar,s wide open welcome home. Happy New Year!

  35. Rhonda says:

    Love this post and I too love looking at houses especially old ones. The pictures in your wood room are lovely as is the room itself. The wreaths hanging in the windows are just so festive and charming! Happy, Happy New Year!!!

  36. Laurie Phillips says:

    I loved reading this!! It’s cold here tonight in Pasadena (not as cold as Martha’s Vineyard though) and your post warmed my heart!

  37. Bev C says:

    Such a lovely blog, and such special books! Would love to have Heart of the Home. Many wishes for a wonderful 2013!

  38. Suzanne Markley says:

    Hi Susan,
    Loved the house pictures that you posted and enjoyed reading about them. They all, large or small look so cozy and I especially enjoy seeing the photos of inside your home. How could one not be happy there? I would be so happy to receive your signed book. Looking forward to your next posting and wishing you a wondeful and blessed 2013.

  39. Sharon Cloyd says:

    Just heard our weather revised from 2-3 inches of snow tonight to 7-8…hmm we just had 8 inches on Wednesday…looks like an at-home weekend, cozy inside from the blowing snow. Would LOVE to be entered for a chance to have a copy of your first book, it would be a great way to start the new year!

  40. Lynn S says:

    I can’t wait to see your book on your trip to England! I know it will be a treasure! Your books are wonderful. I’d treasure this book for sure! I love the one I have of yours on Christmas

  41. Dianne Huling says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have always loved houses. I have made several counted cross-stitch pictures of houses and have plans to make several quilts using the house pattern. Over the years, I have also collected the “Cat’s Meow” houses of all different styles including Amish farm houses and barns. Guess you could say I just love houses of all kinds, shapes and sizes.
    Dianne H.

  42. Debra Hatton says:

    It is easy to see that you are living the life that you imagined. I, too love houses, especially old ones. My grandparents lived in a large antebellum home in Salem, Missouri and I was blessed to share many happy hours at their home each week. The kitchen was the heart and hub of the home. Grandma was always cooking something wonderfully fresh from her garden. Simple recipes that delighted everyone. A large double sink with a window view of the changing seasons was lovely. We did dishes by the bushels when all of my 21 cousins came to visit grandma and grandpa. There was even a swinging door from the kitchen to the dining room. Pocket doors between the dining and living room were large and beautiful. I loved the huge bay window in the living room. There was a stained glass transom above each of the three windows. I loved to sit on the wrap around front porch with my grandmother in the evening. We would sit side by side in a double rocker, painted white, of course, and talk away the day. I remember a softly scented honeysuckle breeze that to this day reminds me of my grandmother. The house also boasted built in bookcases, a secret staircase to the upstairs bedroom that had two dormer windows. There was even an enclosed back porch overlooking the garden. My grandfather had a small iron bed placed there just for napping. What a lovely home that housed two of the dearest people in my life and gave me the sense of wanting a home and family of my own.

  43. Linda says:

    Greetings from Idaho…we have snow finally and it is so white!! I am not getting your blog anymore (not sure why?) but dug this post up myself so hope am not too late for the contest….(I do not have your book but would love to!)I agree with you about homes…..I was a Realtor (still am but inactive right now to take care of my Mother) and it is a dream job for people who love houses . I miss it terribly but family is more important. What a lovely post……you are so well rounded and I hope your free spirit never changes. Happy Holidays!

  44. Glo says:

    Your blog is the place I go when I need to be reminded of the simple joys of life. Thank you for the weekly “pick-me-ups!”

  45. Deb says:

    Thank you for making every blog post so special. Where do you find the time to “do it all”? You are an amazing and inspiring woman! Happy New Year to you and your family! God’s blessing, Deb in Southwest Missouri

  46. Tammy in Colorado says:

    Oh what a treat for me to check your blog today and see a new post and a giveaway!
    A new one in my home this Christmas: one of my family drank beer out of the Emma Bridgewater heart mug! Can you believe that one? Or do you and Joe occasionally do that? HeHeHe…HoHoHo! Love your blog!

  47. Mary in Mesa says:

    My two girls read your blog regularly and they have many of your cookbooks. They both have homes but my husband and I just recently decided to buy a home and sell our motor home – to stay put for a while. So, we have a wonderful home for this great cookbook which needs a home. We would cherish having your Heart of the Home in our new home. 🙂
    BTW, one of my daughters hosted Christmas this year at her home and she and I made your Pumpkin Cheesecake. It was delicious!
    I always receive one of your calendars from my girls, and I really enjoy it. You are so artistic.
    Have a happy new year!

  48. Terri says:

    It’s such a pleasure to come back to visit here and catch up, after being away visiting family for the holidays and the arrival of the best present of all – a new granddaughter, Ellie !). I was so happy to give both my daughters your calendar for Christmas this year – and I gifted myself with one too 😉 . So now, though living far away, we can all still feel connected everyday, every time we look at our calendars hanging in the heart of each of our homes. Thank you!
    Hoping you had a merry Christmas and wishing you and yours’ a very happy New Year! Peace, love and joy to you and all the girlfriends (and Vanna too ; )

  49. Mary says:

    Dear Kindred ~ All through childhood, through all seasons, all times of day or evening, I would peer out of the car window or pass by on a walk and wonder about the lives going on inside a house…especially when the interior lamp cast its
    cozy glow. I was blessed to have lived in an area of exceptional architecture, honed by time and refinement, so there was much grist for the imaginery mill….
    The heavens blessed me with a golden line of homes in my life thus far, so perhaps the eye and heart trained by such exposure knew, just knew. when the
    right dwelling place came into possibility. They do call your name, don’t they?
    Your Christmas Blessing banner was a smash project with the students and I sing your praises for the idea. A most blessed and fullfilling 2013 to you and all the kindreds who reside in your blog home……

  50. judi says:

    Oh, I hope you are getting a bit of the snow you are looking forward to. It appears you are from the weather channel but, I see what you mean about an island is a little warmer than the surrounding inland.

    We had a wee bit of snow in MN the other day but it was enough to outline the tree shapes….so pretty. Keeping my fingers crossed for you – snow, snow, snow:)

    • sbranch says:

      We think there might be some coming tonight … it’s definitely cold enough!

      • judi says:

        Is it white yet? ONE degree here in MN – uff da- one more week before we return to the warmth of FL (our hearts are warm but toes cold:).

  51. Lady Jayne says:

    Cozy, cozy, for me, it’s always been about cozy.
    Your sentiments echo my own, so love your writings and pictures….a welcome escape each time I spend part of the day with you.
    Thank you .
    Happy New Year!

  52. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Such a lovely post. Your blog is warm and cozy, just like your home and you!

    I need you to come to my house and help me rearrange my furniture and make little displays around so it feels all warm and cozy!

    Happy New Year!

  53. Linda says:

    “There’s no place like home.” Dorothy

  54. fRANCINE says:

    Hi Susan, I just LOVE reading your blog!! I have almost all of your books,wish the older ones were still in print. I too live in an old house circa 1865 on the Long Island sound.

  55. I would love to hear more about your journey to Martha’s Vineyard. Did you just pick up and go ? How was the house hunting adventure ? Etc. How when did you meet Joe ? Sounds like a book idea to me !!

    • sbranch says:

      The story of meeting Joe is pretty wonderful, and that’s how my new book (the one I’m working on now) starts, with that story. The house will come later! Thank you Rosemary!

  56. Keri says:

    Oh how I would love to own “Heart of the Home”! Your Summer, Autumn, and Christmas books are some of my absolute favorites. I could use a little inspiration from January to June!!! 🙂

  57. Julia says:

    Heart of the Home was one of my first cookbooks I purchased. I still remeber how my heart was pittering and pattering while thumbing through this book at my favorite book store. Because of this book I began to cook up a storm-(still using a lot of the recipes from this book today) and found my love of cooking.

    Also, thanks for sharing the Chocolate Chip Ginger Coconut cookie recipe. My husband loved them and declared them as one of his favorite cookies! I agree as well. Thanks and have a very blessed and happy New Year!

  58. audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, Missouri says:

    Family stability. I agree. Our family moved so often when I was a little girl and I hated each move… I think one thing that made my dear husband so attractive to me is that his family had ALWAYS lived in the same house!
    We now live in a little house in the woods. The smallest house in our neighborhood, but I love it! We built it ourselves and I am fortunate to have been able to stay home while our children were small.
    Snowy days are the best. Our house was the snow day house – a back yard full of sleds and every kid in the neighborhood tromping in for hot chocolate and mitten warming in the dryer.
    I already own a copy of Heart of the Home, but I would gladly regift it to my dear Aunt Cindi who enjoys a day at home to “play house” as much as I do.
    Thank you dear Susan for sharing!

    • audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, Missouri says:

      I agree, there are so many movies I watch just because I love the houses.
      Time for a true confession… How many times have you watched the movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House?

      • sbranch says:

        Enough to know some of the words by heart! 🙂 When she chooses the paint colors? Wonderful!

        • audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, Missouri says:

          Got that?
          Red, blue, yellow, green, white.
          A great exchange. My “Joe’s” name is “Dave” and I was lucky enough that he found me while we were still in high school. I have had that movie on TV so often this is one of his standard replies when I am giving him specific directions on just how I want something done.
          Too cute!

  59. Betsy Goertzen says:

    After my laptop crashed last week, the 1 thing I missed the most was your blog! Happy to be up and running and reading again! I was so happy to read about some of the inspiration for Heart of The Home. I loved the pictures of your first home. I just found a copy of Heart of The Home at a vintage bookstore and bought it for my daughters’hope chest. Interestingly enough, her name is Hope:-) Thanks again for being my inspiration to make my home cozy and a place for everyone to curl up with a cup of tea and visit!

  60. Vicki M from Locust Grove, VA says:

    Great post! Love the ending with the “furry high fives”! Happy New Year 🙂

  61. Rosemary says:

    Just sitting down today to get caught up on the world of Susan Branch after our children and grandchildren left this morning at 6:30 to head back to NC….and that would be a boo hoo but it was a wonderful Christmas! Beyond compare just to have those little footsteps going up and down the stairs. Delightful!
    So, the theme is houses. The wood room….cozy as it could be and the charm of the houses..in pictures and all ways. So sweet. I do love old houses and lived in one for awhile. So much warmth and coziness to them, although on the other hand we were always cold in the winter because of the cracks and crevices and even a little snowdrift in my kitchen cupboard. Your house is so inviting and it is fun to see the wood room. I think I would spend a lot of time in there.
    Have a lovely weekend and a very Happy, Healthy New Year! Didn’t you hit a place in the heart with this post? Thousand + replies! Fantastic.

  62. Sherry Palla says:

    Missing you Susan…Hope you are well.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m well … taking advantage of this time between Christmas and New Year to work steadily on our book! Getting lots done! Will see you in 2013, with bells on! 🙂

  63. kathy g says:

    You put into words exactly how I feel. We’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard and your diary shared with ALL of your girlfriends keep those memories alive.
    P.S. I’d love to be the winner of the book!

  64. Janis says:

    I received two of your lovely calendars but Susan, you are also going to work with me, every day in the form of one calendar and the darling blotter I received from my friend whom I met and now love, through you. I sent her Sweets for the Sweet because she is the sweetest friend a gal can have. Thank you for sharing your love, your home, your life, the things that mean so much to you. We are all kindred spirits, as I believe we all love the same things too. Happy New Year to Us Girls = )

  65. Karen C says:

    Any snow yet?

  66. Pamela Jo says:

    Hello Susan!

    We’re having a beautiful snowfall today in PA. I don’t have to go out, so am relaxing in my cozy house, sitting by the window watching it snow, sipping some tea a friend gave to me for Christmas, and looking through your many books. Can’t think of a better way to pass the day! Oh, and kitty Clara is on my lap, watching the flakes fall outside the window, too. Just PURR-fect! : )

    Wishing You, Joe, Girl, and Jack a Very Happy & Healthy New Year!

    Pamela Jo

  67. Betsy says:

    I, once again, used your recipe for chocolate pots de creme for our Christmas dessert. It is the very best!

  68. Kiki Nakita says:

    Susan, what a delightful post :). I also have a tenderness for not only houses, but homes. That’s why I have a blog so I can ‘peek’ into others windows.

    My fiance got me your calendar for 2013, and it will see us through many exciting moments as we move from the west side of the states to the Cape. We simple adore Martha’s Vineyard and plan to have a simple ceremony at the Edgartown lighthouse, and lastly to make our new house a home by adding children to our family of three cats and two dogs. Your book would also be a welcomed addition :).

    Oh, I also heard about your book about your travels to England. I lived there for eleven years (my childhood) and cannot wait to have a peek at you trip.

    Bye for now, Kiki Nakita.

  69. First I read your story. Sometimes aloud, sometimes silently, quietly, to myself. Some things really choked me up and filled me with longing… Mostly, though, I’ve been smiling. Lots. Tons. A lot. I like it. Your stories fill me with joy and nostalgia and memories and happiness and a bit more longing. Secondly, I have your first book, but it is smothered with plenty-o-loving splatters from cooking those recipes! The other day I wondered about buying a new one, a clean, fresh, brand spankin’ new one, sans all splatters. But, I didn’t. I confess. If I won this new one, I’d keep it, find it in my mailbox one day, clap my hands, place it carefully in my vintage wire basket that is perfectly content upon the wheels of my vintage 1963 Schwinn Tiger bicycle, and like a ten-year-old boy, I would do what I do almost everyday of my life – stand up on the pedals and see how fast I can make it home, to the .2 miles. My neighbors shake their heads at me and my age of doing such a thing… I just laugh and think, “Sillies, what fun you are all missing!!!!!”
    Susan Branch-with-Joe’s-last-name-now, you are loved and so are your stories and artwork! Happy New Year, my online friend! 🙂

  70. Diana Lucas says:

    Hi Susan, I bought this book years ago when it first was published and I have loved every recipe in it! I would love to have a signed copy from you. I have shared alot of the great food with my family and we have all enjoyed it. There is something about a house and all the great memories contained in it as well as hopes for the future. Blessings for a happy 2013!

  71. Lady Dorothy says:

    This book was given to me by a dear friend many years ago after I first moved to Cambria. I fell in love with it immediately. I would love to extend that gift of love to another friend.

  72. Lorraine says:

    Thank you for sharing your love of home. Reading your first book would be just the thing to usher in the new year.

  73. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Okay, here is a first for you, Susan: Dawn in Minnesota called me and asked if I would send in a post for her. (mark this for Vanna’s attention?) Seems she has tried and tried to send you several emails and they won’t go through. Now they are completely without cable for their computer AND television. Turns out the repairman won’t be coming until next week after New Year’s Day! So she asked if I would send you this and explain why she hasn’t been commenting…so now I’ve done so… 🙂 Incidentally, HAPPY NEW YEAR from our home to yours! 🙂

  74. Rosemary (No. California) says:

    Home, is where the cares of the outside world melt away and there is peace of heart. Home, where love abounds, and there is peace of heart. Home, where there are dreams to dream, wishes for the future and peace of heart. Home, where memories live, and there is peace of heart….Thank you for sharing your home, love, and memories with us. -r-

  75. Elizabeth B. of Odessa, Texas says:

    I have lived in my home for almost 40 years. What memories are encased in these walls! I wouldn’t trade it for any other home. Thank you for a wonderful blog. Happy New Year to you, Joe, and the kitties.

  76. Pat Stansel says:

    Shakespeare in–As you like it–said it all. When I was home I was in a better place.

  77. Cathy G says:

    Love all your pics and writings, Susan. And esp love your kitties. I have 3 kitties. Got your new 2013 calendar and it’s on the fridge ready for me to enjoy the colorful pages all through the year. Happy New Year!

  78. Rosemary Gilman says:

    Love your books. Love your blog. Love you. Hope I win your Heart of the Home book.

  79. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    I just noticed the heart coming out of the chimney of your little house painting. There was a lot of heart in that home! What does the verse on the painting say???

  80. Li says:

    Hi Susan! Thank you for welcoming us into your lovely cozy heart of your home and being an inspiration to all of us. I can’t wait to buy your book about your trip to England! It has been a life long dream to go to the Cotswalds so if I ever get to go I will follow your advice in your new book. I just gave your ‘Girlfriends’ book to my college friend I met over 30 years ago…she loved it and told me she felt like she could find us in some of those fun pictures! I’m not a cook but my friend is… so I’ll give it to her if I win it! Thanks! Happy New Year to you and Joe and Jack!

  81. Susan says:

    Missing you, Susan! Glad you have some time to yourself, however. You have been so busy with the Yankee visit and the holidays:-)
    I have all your books so Vanna doesn’t need to pull my name out of the hopper! You blog is gift enough. Thank you!

  82. donna marie says:

    Happy New Year Sue!
    My Mom gave me this book for Christmas my Senior Year in High School! I was 17 and full of big dreams! If by chance I win this copy I would love to send it to my Pen Pal Terry. She and I connected on F.O.S.B. and have been writing since April!! I am so thankful to have found a “Kindred Spirit” in her!

    Thank you for always doing these neat give-aways! <3 donna marie

  83. Bernie B says:

    I loved your room with all the pictures of homes! Of course I love all of the photos of your beautiful house and home.

  84. Tamara Leavins says:

    I would love to have your book find its way to my cozy little cottage in the woods. I have a special place just for it!
    Your Friend,

  85. Barbara Cowan says:

    Susan–My husband and I just moved to our little dream farmhouse on four acres in the Ozarks of Missouri. I have worked all day today unpacking the endless amount of boxes that are part of moving. It’s SO much work, but with each item that goes into place I feel that I am creating the heart of my home. I’m looking forward to having all the work done, sitting in my cozy new home with a cup of coffee, and reading a good book—-such as HEART OF THE HOME???
    (I hope, I hope!)

  86. Diana C. in OKC says:

    Love love love your blog and all your inspiration!
    I am totally addicted and I too would love to know the story of how you met your husband etc…
    I made several of the cookie recipes for Christmas and the snowballs have been getting many compliments and requests for more!
    Thank you and I do not own any of your cookbooks and would be honored to win !

  87. Dianne van der Wende says:

    Oh, so many of us have the same hopes and dreams of what home means to us. I live 9 hours away from my children and grandchildren. Right now I’m at their home babysitting two of the little ones. The boy was sad to have the Christmas tree come down because we had done so many fun things around the Christmas holiday. I hugged him and said we’re still a family even when there’s nothing special happening. I would enjoy having a copy of your book. Especially, a signed one.

  88. Teah Barrow says:

    Thank you for your generous gove away and a walk down memory lane. Happy New Year to you and thank you for your ongoing inspiration!

  89. Donna Ray from Hamlin, NY says:

    Good Gravy, what a fantastic House Party you are having, Susan. I’m guest number 1,250!! You have struck a cord in a whole bunch of us with this beautiful post. Some of your sentences ring in my heart. I don’t know your whole story, Susan, but it sounds like you were really hurt and that going to MV and buying Holly Oak where you “felt safe because no one could take it from me” was the strong place you stood on to build your “rock of a long time life.” Your list of what you have always wanted is so poignant. I agree that writing it down does begin to make it come true. Your life is evidence to that. I’m so sorry you were hurt, but clearly you have grown stronger in the broken place. You found the strength (much of it drawn from the wellspring of your solid childhood I bet) to find the place, the home and the career to rebuild your life. It sounds like Joe, bless his heart, came along as frosting on an already delicious cake! I often forget that your creativity is also your job. I guess like any true artist you would do what you do whether someone paid you to do it or not. We are so fortunate that what you do opens your heart to us in a way that opens ours, then all these wonderful feelings just bubble and spill over into creativity in each of our lives as well. Thank you, Susan, for filling us up with your contagious love……..a rather wonderful gift for the New Year! As always, DonnaRay

  90. mary spring says:

    …been appreciating your musica choices these days yet can’t wait to hear from you again…seems like it’s been forever since we’ve heard from you.. ( lol )…’ know you’re so busy, though, working on the English diary….did you finally get your snow last night ??…

  91. Cheryl says:

    My very first book of yours I purchased was “Christmas from the Heart of the Home.” (which I am holding in my lap as I type this 🙂 !!! ) A dear girlfriend showed me HER copy many years ago, and I, like YOUR many “girlfriend fans”, fell in love with you that day. My collection of your books and painted lovelies, of course, has grown over the years. Your reveal in this blog post of your love of homes/houses makes total sense! Love it when you share even more of yourself. Wishes for Love and Peace to you and your family and to all your “girlfriends”! Happy New Year and as always, thank you for you and your sharing of you.

  92. Olivia says:

    Dear Susan, What would we do without your blog…through many difficult times this is what keeps so many of us going. I, too, love homes, furnishings especially antiques ….(trying to find handles for my 1942 Norge stove..some broke)….love your jelly cupboard and all the beautiful windows, doors and wood trims on your home…so so beautiful. I have through the years…saved all the calendars and framed a month or two and switch off per season. I have most of your books but I do not have Heart of the Home or Autumn…I foolishing gave my copy as a gift once…thinking I could get it again. So, put me in the drawing and I will continue to peruse every book sale and garage sale for a copy. You and Joe are so blessed to have each other…Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year.

  93. A love affair with houses, doors, windows and window boxes. Fabrics, and quills and special watercolor inks for my calligraphy~photographs and album making, memory keeping (that’s what us chicks do) A love affair with sharing – and now the addiction to Pinterest! I don’t have enough time in the day to escape to your books (I believe I have every single one) but would love the ‘original’ Heart of the Home signed by you so I could then pass on mine to a special soul sister who is ‘missing’ that piece of her collection. Each year, we surprise someone with something from your store, the calendars – whatever, just to have the pieces of you in our homes, IS “HOME” – I just wanted to share with you that I am sitting in my home, in Nutley NJ – with a cup of Mocha Java coffee, next to my Christmas Tree, the day after our beautiful NJ snow storm, relishing the fact that I found you and your art work 21 years ago by accident. When I got engaged, a friend gave me your little book of LOVE, and then that christmas she gave me the little book called ‘Chocolate’ – years later, the collection has grown and well, at 48, I just pray you keep on painting, and creating and filling our lives with joy. You are a rainmaker of happiness and your blog is the place I RUN to when I need to dust out my own heart and get back to the Heart of my own HOME! When God created you, and gave you your gifts, HE smiled upon Earth and left a legacy hard to emulate. My gratitude to you for making my soul sing every single day is truly a miracle.

  94. When I first connected with you years ago, it was over all of the lovely Heart of the Home items I kept stumbling across. It spoke to me and of the ideas and dreams I had bouncing around in my head- and I’ve been in love ever since. In fact, I have my own little house now, and whenever I cook I have little snippets of your quotes in my head, one of them being that things taste better in small houses. And I have little pieces of you all over the house! Can’t wait to hang up the 2013 calendar in a few days! Hope you’re having a lovely holiday!

  95. Joann says:

    I’ve just finished reading this for the 2nd time. This time in complete detail, studying each photograph, pondering each word. You definitely speak to my heart Miss Susan.

    My heart is in my home, no matter where it is. My first marriage was to a graduate of the US Air Force Academy. We were together since 7th grade. I had no idea, however, what marrying this person would mean and I spent 21 years going all over the country from little house to “little-er” house and rental homes, apartments, a trailer, a townhome, you name it. But, the things that made each a home were the things that made it warm and cozy—our blankets, pillows, kitchen things, photographs, and special rugs that always made the inside look like the home we left behind.

    Treasures, I’ll call them—each a treasure.

    We embed our homes with love and light and smells and aromas and textures and traditions. We leave an imprint on each one.

    You leave an imprint on each one of us, too…..

    Thank you for a wonderful year of inspiration, love, and guidance….and reminding each of us to be who we are and to each be the hearts of our own homes….for it is that heart that brings us all together.

    Happy New Year Susan….

    Joann in CO

  96. Pat Beckman says:

    Susan the day you posted this , I read it and cried…not sad just so full of love for my family and our home…but I never finished what I started that day, just wanted to say Happy New Year to a wonderful lady…I fell in love with your home and your town last fall when we visited M V.
    Pat Beckman Ohio

  97. Carrie says:

    Good morning on this, the eve of New Year’s Eve,

    This is off subject but wondered if you had seen 84 Charing Cross Road starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft? It is delicious. Judi Dench is also in it.

    By the way, I’m enrolling in a 12 step program due to my bread in a can addiction.

  98. shielaf says:

    I have collected Susan Branch books and I of coarse, have this one. I could share my copy with my newly married daughter if i could give it up to her. It would be so much nicer if Susan picked me and I could give her this copy! : )

  99. Anna from Hereforshire says:

    Hi Susan, add me to the growing list of humble home lovers. We have a house and there is also a little cottage at the top of the garden which we are redoing. What a fabulous place it is too. We just discovered it has medieval origins. While I’m working I wonder about all the people who have lived there and you know what? Some of the former tenants have come by to say hello and tell us a little more about the place. How neat is that? I’m writing a letter to the future owners and putting in the history of the house as we know it along with some of the bits of pottery we’ve found in a time capsule which we will bury in the floor. We found some amazing things when we took up the floor, even a dismantled old bicycle so we’re going to spread the love. Anyway, I would love to have a copy of your first book. When I was still at home in the States I worked at a book store and everyone I recommended it to was smitten when they opened it up. Alas, I neglected to get one for myself and so I would love to add it to my library.

  100. Maria says:

    I’d love to get the book. Happy new year 🙂

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