“He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle ~ and away they all flew, like the down on a thistle . . .” MUSICA 

Wasn’t it wonderful!?  But still, there is one gift left under the tree and the question remains . . .

Yes, there is!  Plenty of honey!  It’s time for our drawing Girlfriends . . . but don’t scroll down too fast.  Allow the moment to last.  Right now, you are still the one who gets it.

 Joe and I took your tea set out for one last spin around the block before she gets packed up and sent away to our lucky winner.  We had a Christmas Day tea party with your tea set, just the two of us, in front of the fire while we opened our presents.  I have to say, this is by far the MOST photogenic tea set I have ever seen.  She smiles for the camera, she dips, winks, and twinkles. She almost wears ballet slippers and is definitely on her toes.  She does what Shirley Temple’s mom always told Shirley to do when the camera was turned her way, “Sparkle Shirley, Sparkle!”

See what I mean?  We should call this tea set “Shirley.”  Shirley sparkles next to the little French butter cakes (also known as Madeleines) my sister Shelly sent us.

She sparkles as she receives two rounded teaspoons (one for each cup) of my favorite celebration tea, Earl Grey with Lavender and Rose Petals (which, btw, is so delicious that we sold out of  it this Christmas; we ordered another batch which is coming soon).

And then the splash and gurgle of freshly boiled water.  For the perfect cup of tea, never reboil water or use old stale water heaven forbid. . . no, no, it must be fresh, otherwise there’s a good chance all the oxygen has been boiled out of it and water with no oxygen is no good, a cup of tea with no oxygen is no cup of tea at all ~ as all the tea aficionados of the world will tell you.

And then, in the old-fashioned way, the Downton Abbey way don’tcha know, because the tea is not in a tea ball of any sort, the leaves are loose and floating in the pot, we have to strain it as we pour it into the cup.  Which gives me the happy and pleasurable opportunity to use the tea strainer I designed for Lenox many years ago.  (There are no more of these strainers, this is my very last one and my pride and joy.)  It looks really pretty with this tea set!  But it looks good anywhere and shows the perfect example of how good “mix and match” can look with both old and new dishes.

The strainer catches all the little flotsam and jetsam keeping your brew completely flotsam-and-jetsam free.

As you fill your steamy teacup.

They make lots of different kinds of strainers . . . just as cute as mine, like this one . . . (which seems to be on sale right HERE … tra-la . . .)

This is the photo where I think the camera catches Shirley tap dancing.

And now for the honey.  Just a little spoonful.  Or sugar, if you are so inclined (that’s your spoon, Girlfriends!) . . . Am I going too slow for you?  Remember . . .

. . . Because there are consolation prizes.  You might not see them if you hurry too fast.

And the stirring of the tea is endlessly fascinating, don’t you agree?  No?

Well then, how about the pouring of the cream?  Fascinating?  We’re almost there … but let’s take a time-out for our

Right here, in the Heart of the Home where we agree that . . .

We took our tea to our lit-up Christmas tree (note, I have already eaten half my biscuit ~ but I know the soul-satisfying secret of where there are more!).

The click of cups in saucers, crackle and pop of fire, rustle of tearing wrapping paper, buttery tea cake and Bing is singing . . . we are counting our blessings. The most wonderful Christmas!

Just being home is the best blessing of all.

Later, our tea things went back into the suds . . . because you know, it’s time for me to wrap up and give away my last present for the holiday season.  Including the cute Emma box filled with my homemade Almond Brittle, we wouldn’t forget that.  Are you ready Girlfriends???

I have to say, Vanna is very out of character this morning.  This girl who always wears pink satin mules tied with yellow polka dot bows with her flowing morning negligee get-up has just come into my studio in the red flannel jammies with big moose heads all over them we gave her for Christmas.  With ornaments hanging from the moose horns. Plus her moose-head slippers.  I’m touched.  Quite a picture she makes.  I gave her tea . . . we are ready.  Open them peepers Vanna, here we go.

I have to say, I feel as excited like I always do when one of my friends unwraps a gift I’m sure she will like!

Long arm goes into giant red Santa hat, swirling the names round and round.   Oops!  Vanna just jumped into the hat!  She’s such a nut!  She’s swimming to bottom, scissor kicking in manner of Esther Williams, spinning and turning, like a small submarine and little names are being kicked up almost like waves.  Jack’s eyes are like saucers, he can’t believe his eyes.  Here she comes, up through the vortex of spinning names, our number generator retriever Vanna!  She is so worth her salt.  Who else would do this?  What an original!  And, in her hand, there is a name.  Only one name . . .  it starts with an A.

The name is . . . oh my goodness, the name is  A S H L E E    H A W K I N S !  In her comment, she mentioned that her husband’s grandmother (wonderful grandmothers strike again) gave her A FINE ROMANCE for Christmas while her Mother-in-law just introduced her to our blog ~ Ashlee’s a brand new kindred spirit!  Ashlee, there is an email waiting for you . . . write me back so I can find out where to send your prize.

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S   on your new tea set ~ it has been infused with good Tea Party Christmas ju-ju for a lifetime of joy.  xoxo

And now Girlfriends, to assuage some of the disappointment, if there can be such a thing, here is a little something for all of you, (genius Artie Shaw playing Stardust on the Clarinet as if he is not an actual human).

Anyway, something else lots of you have been asking for.  You remember I collect full moons, right?

Lots of us like to make wishes on them, like this one, peeking around the West Chop Lighthouse here on the island . . .

Or that one still high in the sky at dawn on the Queen Mary 2 (waves going Swooosh against the side of the ship).  Mysterious mystical magical mother-moonshine wakes me up at night . . . trying to get in through the bedroom window ~  sometimes I just give up and let ‘er in.

I put the date of the full moon for each month on my calendars to remind us to be ready.  There are only twelve this year and we would never want to miss the opportunity for free wishes!  For the last couple of years we’ve also been giving away a free printout of a bookmark I designed that looks like this ↓ on one side . . . and when you turn it over, all the 2014 full moon dates plus the Native American names for each moon are on the other side.

 So that’s one of our consolation prizes (besides this lovely song). You all get a free bookmark to print out on your computer.  (Or have someone with a color printer do it for you!)  And remember, moons are nice but really . . .

Another something you should know about . . . there is some of my winter art you can print out under Free Stuff in the shopping section of the blog. Just go HERE for fun stationery and computer wallpaper and other goodies from me to you with love.

And last but not least, the best consolation prize of them all: see this delicious thing?  Oh my, it’s beyond delicious, crispy-edged and powder~sugared . . .

My gift to you is that you don’t have to eat this.  I won’t even give you the recipe ~ I won’t even say what it is.  I won’t bring it up.  I will save you.  You are probably as inundated with food as we are.  So, as a public service to those I love, you will not have to eat this.  Later maybe, like February.

My pleasure Girlfriends.  I know the feeling.

Well, that is all for today… a big Congratulations again to Ashlee, and really to all of us because we’ve found each other, kindred spirits in this big wild world we live in.   A kiss for you from me, mwaaah!  Have a wonderful day!  Thank you for playing Christmas Giveaway with Susan Branch! (In manner of Bob Barker!  Hello!  Reading the newest Bridget Jones right now, could you tell?  In manner of speaking?)  XOXO

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423 Responses to LIKE THE DOWN ON A THISTLE . . .

  1. Debra in So CA says:

    Thank you Susan. I must have been thinking it was coming out in Dec so they would still be available. I won’t hesitate next time when know I want the item and I wanted the magazine the minute you shared it with us! I’ll try to order it from their website as you suggested.

  2. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Susan – Did you ever let us know what the lovely concoction you made in this post? and give a recipe please? It looks really good!

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