Big Drawing, Sparkles and Musica!

Is everyone READY for the big drawing?  Me too!  Vanna too. ‘Course she’s not downstairs yet, I think she’s trying on clothes, so we’ll just have to start the celebration without her, with some sparkles, and wait until she shows up . . . MUSICA


We are no where near this sparkly point in our decorating. But I thought I’d put up a few photos of other years because I know we’re all getting into it soon if not already. Joe and I seem to do the holidays slightly differently every year. I usually love to get our tree over Thanksgiving weekend, but this time


. . . we made Thanksgiving last all weekend culminating with last night when we had a Birthday Dinner Party for our friend Bob. As requested by the Birthday Boy, it was a pizza🍕 party with 10 good friends. Along with the pizza we had a  crisp salad with every delicious healthy thing on it including roasted beets, pomegranate seeds (crunchy and very much like croutons), chunks of crisp apple 🍎, creamy goat cheese, thin carrot coins, sliced red pepper and red Dinner for Bobonion ~ like confetti ~ on top of refreshingly cold crunchy iceberg lettuce, romaine, spinach (the curly real kind not that limp little “baby” spinach, what is that, is my question), and a soupçon of arugula which I think is better when treated like a salad herb ~ all drizzled with my yummy dressing from The Summer Book (p.31): 1/4c. fig balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic is fine), one clove of balloonsminced garlic, 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, salt and freshly ground pepper, and two well-minced anchovies (for surprising depth of flavor), whisked together with ½ c. good fruity olive oil poured in a thin stream. I pulled out some of the “Bob” place cards I’d saved from other dinners and that’s how I decorated his place setting. And I listened to Christmas Carols the whole time I was getting it ready. I love playing house.birthdayparty

Bob's Birthday

In real life we often call him Bob-Bob. His wife Peg is Peg-Bob, I’m Sue-Bob, and Joe is . . . I think you can guess. We’re very old friends.

birthday party

I used my best birthday napkins (found them at Pottery Barn a few years ago) 🎈 ~ we had Flourless Chocolate Cake and ice cream for dessert. But it was really like a continuation of Thanksgiving. All the candles were lit , fall leaves🍂 were still draped over the sideboard and hung over doors, there were still pumpkins 🎃 on the table in front of the fire, and we were still very grateful and happy to be front of the fire

And when I woke up this morning, it was dark outside and there were still embers going in the fireplace. So I stoked and blew and added wood and got it going again. I put the tablecloths from last night into the washing machine and then I wandered through the quiet house thinking of all the fun we’ve had here and how lucky we are, hearing the laughter, remembering the faces. With just the crackle of the fire and the hum of the furnace, and the sun barely coming through the leafless trees in the back yard.

wonderful-thingOops, I hear Vanna . . .



Guess who just sashayed in here?  Right, the Princess Queen herself! Decked to the nines in a full deep-sea diving outfit in waterproof gold lame! I have no idea what she is thinking.😳 There is no water involved here. The flippers scared Jack half to death, and Girl Kitty took off for the attic. But into the barrel she goes, of somewhere just south of 3,000 Girlfriend’s names (!)!  Down, down, down, to the bottom, swirling and twirling and dervishing, Oh the uproar! It sounds like Niagara Falls. I wouldn’t want to be her. I could never choose only two names.


But that IS her job, her raison d’être, she’s lucky she has one. Hero jobs like 🏆 this are NOT a dime a dozen. Here she comes!!!!! Her mission: bring me two names! And once again, Vanna comes through like a true champion.

Alright, here we go, for the gifts 🎁 behind DOOR NUMBER ONE: which include a lovely little tea tin with a package of my delicious Gingerbread tea PLUS my first book ever published in another language, A FINE ROMANCE, beautifully rendered in Chinese and certain to be #1. different and #2. scarce, the winner is…

Bridget Czapiewski 

Yay, Bridge! 😘 Congratulations !!!!


 And, behind DOOR NUMBER TWO, the prize that consists of the rare-ish, but definitely out-of-print, Christmas from the Heart of the Home, the IN-print Fairy Tale Girl, and the English language version of A FINE ROMANCE, Plus a limited edition, Emma Bridgewater holiday mug!!! Good stuff, right? Okay, here we go, I hope it’s YOU.  AND, the winner is . . .

Brittany!!!! (The Brittany who has “two little ones,” and wears mukluks)!

Yay Brit! 👍  We are so happy for you! 

I will email you both so you can tell me what name(s) you would like me to inscribe in your books (think “gifts” if you already have these books), and also give me the address for where I can send them. Okay? Very happy for you both.♥  And now . . .My favorite fairyPrincess Charlotte

baby's first christmas

Hello little girl. 🍼 I think I have the perfect thing to cheer everyone else up. THIS is Princess Charlotte, she’s six months old and I thought you might like to see her. She is the child of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and his lovely wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.  Princess CharlotteThe family released this photo (taken by her mother), as a thank you to the public for allowing the children to grow up as normally as possible. Which, you know, is NOT possible (normal, I mean), but I thought it was very nice of them to share this photo, and if anyone can raise a normal child in a royal family, I vote for William and Catherine to be the ones. Isn’t the outfit pink perfection? Cashmere at six months.♥ 

border flower

november 2010 863

We have some decisions to make. Half the reason we bought this house (besides for the pantry and the dining room) was for the space at the end of the living room that seemed so perfect for a Christmas tree.🎄 Then we put the table there, which we love . . . and tried a smaller tree.  Now it seems that every year we have to decide whether to leave the table there and get a smaller tree, or take the table out . . .


And get a really big tree, which we now tie to the wall…


Because of this fiasco . . . that year the tree was NOT tied to the wall and became front-heavy with ornaments . . . I was just going to get Lowely to bring her over to see our just finished tree, and THIS happened. Joe is thinking it all over very carefully!!! 


This is my favorite “decorating for Christmas” video I’ve done so far.✨ I just hunted through the house for all the white and sparkly things, and this is how it turned out. I just love angel chimes ~ they are very magical. We got some just in case you like them too . . . they’re in the webstore ~ and I’m not sure but I think we have the paper snowflakes too.  Here are some other thoughts:Deckingthehalls


paper tree

Here you can see the sugared fruit I love to make, you can see how pretty it is, and Paper tree art called scherenschnitte. I love these trees, they go amongst the greens on my mantle too, I like them so much, I found someone to make them for us and I got a few extra for you.Full Moons for 2016Here’s a gift for everyone that’s become a yearly tradition for us. Yes, our blog has traditions! I’m so proud! I think it might be our fourth year for the Full Moon Bookmark ~ click there, print it out (fold it in half and glue it together) ~ it gives dates for the full moons for 2016, along with their Native American moon names. It a good little stocking stuffer, you can even have it laminated at Office Depot or Staples!


I tossed the laundry on the couch a few minutes ago thinking how lucky it is that when I put the laundry in this particular spot, Jack is completely uninterested in it. He never gets in it.  How good of him, I thought.


The next time I walked by the pile of laundry, this little head was sticking out of it, barely able to keep his eyes open, one minute later he was asleep. My boy. How proud of him I am. The thing I like about him most, he won’t go off to college and leave me.

Unlikely Story BookstoreRemember this wonderful bookstore I told you about a month or so ago that Joe and I came across in our travels called An Unlikely Story  (owned, btw, by the author of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney)?  Well, I’m thrilled to report that we will be starting off our book tour right here, at this fun bookstore, on Saturday, April 30th at 1 pm, in the land of the flying books…An Unlikely Story

in the little town of Plainville, MA. So appropriate: Smallville meets Plainville. 

We are calling our tour the Heart of the Home 30th Martha's Vineyard Isle of DreamsAnniversary Bookstore Tour 🎉, even though we’re celebrating the three-book series culminating with Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, we’re calling it that because 2016 will actually be the 30th Anniversary of the publication of my first book! (Shocking! I didn’t even realize it, Joe told me.) We’ll launch the tour in Plainville at a buffet luncheon where I will speak and answer questions and sign all three books. AND, for frosting on the cake,🍰 the event will also be a fund raiser for the Plainville Town Library, which means there will be tickets. I’ll let you know how to get them as soon as I find out myself! I’m thrilled in case you can’t tell. I love this brave new independent bookstore, courageously starting out life in the age of Amazon. I love that they support their local library, and I think you will love them too! It should be quite a celebration. And the next afternoon, on Sunday, May 1st, we will be in Connecticut at the famous independent Bookstore called heart of thehomeR.J. Julia. Very excited and honored to be there too. That’s what we know about the tour so far! A good start! We’ll be adding to this list and I’ll keep you updated. If you’re in the area, mark your calendars. It’s a while from now, but you know it’s sneaking up quickly! We’ll have all the details in “Events” at the top of the Blog page.

And one more surprise. It just seems right, in honor of 30 years after all, to republish HEART of the HOME, and give it an updated cover along with 16 brand new pages. So, yes, that’s what I’m going to do! And I can’t wait. Heart was like my first child. I would love to make it a new outfit. A busy year of celebration! I just want it to be good.


Well that’s probably enough for today! So grateful to be

Home for Christmasthis year. Have a most wonderful week darling friends. I can’t thank you enough for entering the Giveaway and for all the sweet comments. I read and loved them all. Bye for now! ❌⭕️, Me.

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377 Responses to Big Drawing, Sparkles and Musica!

  1. Teresa says:

    What a lovely post, as always. So excited for the republishing of your first book. I still refer to my original, old copy very often. I love R.J. Julia, and the adorable town of Madison. Not too far from me, maybe I can get down there!

  2. Mary in Phoenix says:

    Each time you post a winner I relive the absolute thrill I felt when I won the Emma Jubilee mug for my mum 🙂 Hooray for Bridget & Brittany! So grateful for your newsy Thanksgiving to Christmas transition post … and word of a new ♥ of the Home … like the birth of a grandchild 30 years later! Thought of you yesterday as we drove west along Route 40 into New Mexico and Arizona. Nothing compares to the sight of brilliant blue skies, fluffy white clouds, wind-carved red rocks and brambly scrub oak along the road when you have just driven through a Midwest ice storm. Come see us next spring! And in the meantime enjoy the peaceful painting of wintertime ♥ You simply sparkle. xo

    • sbranch says:

      I agree, it’s so “Primary” out there isn’t it? Colorwise, I mean. Thank you Mary xoxo

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        Never really thought of AZ as “primary” but you’re right … red rocks, blue skies, green trees and yellow sun 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I noticed it from train rides, even more so in New Mexico with white adobe buildings and red dirt, but definitely in Arizona too.

  3. NANCY JO says:

    Hi Sue,
    Ok I didn’t win, I guess Vanna didn’t see my post about how I was your best friend in the whole world. Well she was busy I guess. About the tree placement, that’s a hard one. So I don’t know. Ours tipped over last too, OH DEAR”. We just got a smaller one this year, tied to the wall. Yes Kitties are sure funny and I sure do miss mine. Nice party for Bob, I have a Bear named Bob we have parties for him too. He seems to like them.
    Nancy Jo

  4. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Hi Susan, your new post surely does sparkle. Congratulations to Bridget and Brittany – lucky girls but our consolation prizes are wonderful, too, especially the picture of the little Princess and cutie-pie Jack snuggling in the warm laundry. We’re going to have a living Christmas tree this year, a tabletop one in front of the window. Then we’ll plant it in our garden. I’ve been wrapping gifts and making lists today. December is fast approaching and we must embrace it with open arms and open hearts. Hugs.

  5. Jack says:

    What I like about not winning nothin’ is that it’s free !

  6. Kathie Burton says:

    Boo hoo! I did not win but the anticipation was fun. I made your Gram’s stuffing…it was a hit. This time my table was set early and doing that was fun, too! Your blog may turn me into a creative person.

  7. Cyndee Randall says:

    Isn’t Charlotte the most darling little girl! I have a question. I have a Tuxedo kitty (Mr. Darcy) and a little grey sweetheart (Elizabeth Bennet, Lizzie for short) HOW do you get away with that white furniture in the living room? I am constantly vacuuming, dusting, wiping, swiping and de-furring every surface in sight. I cannot image white upholstery! Bless you!

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t know, my cats don’t seem to shed very much. They also, for some reason, don’t nap on the white sofas. They like it better in the “wood room” where we watch TV and the furniture is darker.

      • Sharon E says:

        There is a fine grained sponge that they sell in the pet store and some fabric stores. It works wonders with cat hair. My daughter, the scientist, tells me that a quick spray with plain water, breaks the hydrogen bond, and makes it easier to lift cat hair. Trust me, I had a Maine Coon cat. Now that is hair!!!

        • sbranch says:

          Fantastic! Thank you Sharon!

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            you could also use the dusting sheets on a Swiffer to collect the fuzz, or my mother’s old method ( and it worked fine) wrap some scotch tape, sticky side out, around your hand and go over the furniture with it. I think even using a fabric softener sheet will do the job. good luck!!!

  8. Ann Y. says:

    Congratulations to the winners! But we all win when we get to read your posts! Just have to say I love to play house, too. We also kept Thanksgiving up for a Birthday Celebration on Saturday for my sister in law. Used my dear departed Mother in law’s floral cake plates and it was almost like she was here. Now, almost all decorated….keep saying I am going to simplify, less fuss, less stuff….and then I find myself wiring a Santa to the front grill of my car! What can I say…I listen when you say “Be an elf ” !!! Enjoy the season, Susan.
    Oooh…Thrilled that you will be at An Unlikely Story…just called to my husband to look at the map and see how far from us that is. As a school librarian, LOVE Jeff Kinney and the look of that store. I keep pestering our school custodian with photos …since our library is two stories high I keep thinking we could have flying books, too ! Stay tuned !

    • sbranch says:

      I love elves, they are the light of the world. xoxo Speaking of elves, I think Jeff Kinney is a bit of a hero to put a store where he did. You’ll see. It’s just wonderful.

  9. Jenni Shakir says:

    Happy for Bridget and Brittany !!!!!!!! Congrats Gals!
    What a generous friend you are to the world, Susan.
    I just printed your bookmark on our new $60 printer !
    Yay! We have color ink again and an “ink plan” to get it a little
    more inexpensively this time around 😉 ! The cost of ink was
    rather daunting. Now we can pay $2.99 per month and I can
    enjoy the world of color printing once again ! Lovin’ it.

    Thank you for warming our world with your pictures and words.
    Such a blessing are you.

  10. Ellette says:

    Since you’re updating a couple books how about your Christmas one!! I love mine so much and display it prominently on my kitchen counter during the holidays. I would love to be able to buy some for my girlfriends. Maybe it will be your next one to reprint? Pretty please?!

  11. Linda in Pennsylvania says:

    It’s always exciting to have a new blog to savor – thank you! Congratulations to the winners. Your living room looks lovely – I vote for the tree in the window. Princess Charlotte is so adorable – there’s something about dimples in precious little baby hands that I love. It’s always a treat to see pictures of !camera-shy! Jack. My son just rescued a 4 month old cat – “Snoop Cat”. I have no pets of my own, so I love when Snoop visits with me – and I get my kitty fix!

  12. Pam says:

    I like the table in the window. I think I would go with a smaller tree and leave the table in the window. The tree in the picture is beautiful, and the entire setting perfect! Just sayin’!!

  13. Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

    Congratulations to the fortunate winners. Loved the blog post; especially our little precious Princess Charlotte. Isn’t she just perfect? Between her picture and Jack in the midst of the laundry basket, I can’t pick my favorite. Thanks for putting smiles on all our faces Susan. You do have that knack. xo

  14. Nancy B says:

    Congratulations to the two “Bs”. I was hoping Nancy “B” would be the winner! I’ll keep trying! Thanks for the lovely post. I must get Fall put away and bring out Christmas. It seems I put out less and less each year. You always inspire me to do more.
    Nancy ( from Bakersfield)

  15. Kelly B. from Pittsburgh says:

    Dear Susan,
    I was feeling stressed and just happened to look at your blog and Twitter at the right time — things are already looking up!. I’m also beginning to decorate the tree; although I’ve never had one topple over, I’ve also never been able to get the lighting just right the first, second, or third time. Already have your Christmas from the Heart of the Home out on my butcher block, will be bringing my homemade SB inspired MERRY CHRISTMAS garland out. Let the decorating begin!

  16. Kathy Phenix says:

    Hurray for Bridg and Brit. Two very lucky girlfriends. I just wish that Vanna would concentrate more and pull my name one of these times. I guess I just need to be patient and enjoy the experience of waiting to see who did win. After all I didn’t marry until I was 42 and I thought I was always going to be the bridesmaid and never the bride and that’s when my prince charming appeared. And it’s been fun and surprises ever since. Happy post Thanksgiving and looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. Kisses to Jack, your little laundry lover!

    • sbranch says:

      Late bloomers! Join the club! 🙂

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        I was the last girl in my high school class to get married, at 32. and come this January we have been married for 15 years, and still having fun. now if I could just get him to stop bringing home homeless critters, he brings them home and I find them homes. but I drew the line at a homeless skunk!!!

  17. Jack says:

    That little Princess is so cute , but you know she’ gonna talk funny ……

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, she will sound like little musical bells!

      • nancy says:

        Jack, you crack me up. Thanks for the smile today.

        • Pat Mofjeld says:

          Jack, you made me smile. That is the kind of comment my dad would have said, too. He used to say, if hanging up the phone with someone or parting ways after visiting, “Well, stay out of the hot sun”. That comment made here in Minnesota, on a snowy or rainy day, always brought a smile to people’s faces. It drove my mother absolutely NUTS–she would complain that people would think he was crazy. And then that just made it even funnier to us–the fact that it bothered her so much… 🙂

  18. Karen Giordano says:

    Hi Susan! So excited for your book tour in the Spring! My daughters live in Nashville and love the Parnassus Book Store! I noticed this on your map of hopeful stops on your tour and I contacted them via Facebook and they said to please have Susan contact us concerning a possible signing at the store. I would love to see you there!
    Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas and very Happy New Year!
    Karen Giordano

  19. Dee Van Ingen says:

    LOVE that you mentioned Angel Chimes………several years ago as I was cleaning out my aunt’s house, I found her original (probably from the 50s) Angel Chimes that has the music box in the base which plays “Silent Night!” Such a nice memory of being at my aunt’s home when I was a child…………… And now my grands can enjoy as much as I did!

  20. Lorrie says:

    Such a sparkly, happy post – isn’t Princess Charlotte the sweetest thing? I’m writing this while sitting on the floor in front of the fire – such a cozy place to be on a frosty night (although rain is headed our way). The bookmarks are so pretty. Thank you, Susan. Enjoy the tree decorating. Ours will wait awhile, too, because it will be real.

  21. Isabel says:

    Beautiful post, Susan.

    Can’t wait for you to let us know when your reprinted first book will be available. I think I asked in a previous comment but could not find it due to there being so many comments. Do you plan on reprinting Summer and any of the other books that some of us may not have had the privilege of purchasing previously?

    As always, your home is beautiful. There is something about a fire. And Jack is as cute as ever. Did you ever think of coming to Florida on your book tour? I am in Orlando?

    • sbranch says:

      We do plan to reprint, sort of one at a time. Heart will come out, hopefully around June, for sure by the end of summer, but first I have to finish the one I’m doing. We tried to go to Florida, but we are traveling 9,000 miles already and Florida, down and back, would add another 1,000, so we are hoping to meet our Florida friends, half way, maybe in Georgia! I know that’s not great, but we’re trying!

  22. Deborah in Odessa, Tx says:

    Congrats to Winners. I get so excited when Vanna appears. Jack Cat is so cute..and Sweet Charlotte.

  23. Lisa Staggs says:

    This question has nothing to do with the drawing, but seems like a good place to get an answer to my question. Will the charm for “A Fine Romance” be restocked? I just ordered and received the one for the new book, but would like both of them. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Probably . . . The way it works is that this company requires that we order thousands of them at a time. Which is a lot for little us to deal with, so we try to make sure there’s a demand for them. So I think we’ll wait and see if there is, and if so, we’ll go for it!

      • Lisa Staggs says:

        Thank you for your prompt reply. I hope there is a big demand for it. I would like to get one for all three books. Have a wonderful day……and it is December 1 – yeah!!!!

        • sbranch says:

          I wish they’d let us order incrementally, we could do it so much easier! Happy December to you Lisa!

  24. Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Hi, Sue!
    I think I love your “Let’s draw the winner” posts the best! Your descriptions of Vanna just crack me up!
    Your dilemma regarding the Christmas tree…It reminded me that I read somewhere, recently, that the number one question asked by potential new homeowners is “Where will we put the Christmas tree?” My vote is for the bigger tree in front of the windows…it’s only up for a short time each year and it IS the perfect spot. Whatever you and Joe decide, it won’t matter…your home is always so warm and sparkly @ Christmas.
    What I love about you, Sue, is that you walk about the rooms of your house in the wee hours of morning in complete gratitude. I drink my tea each morning from a mug that says Begin Each Day With Gratitude. Keeping gratitude forefront in my everyday living has helped me more than any other single thing I do. (as well as making the people around me happier, too 🙂 )
    Congratulations, Bridget and Brittany….lucky, lucky ladies! Thanks for making us all winners, Sue!

  25. Debby says:

    Darfid yarfou warfatch arfa sarfalarfute tarfo darfowntarfon Arfabbarfey larfast narfight. Sarfo garfood. Arfi warfant tarfo karfiss jarfacks farface. Yarfour frarfiend arfin arfarf. Darfebbarfy

    • sbranch says:

      I DID!!!!! I loved it, I’m so excited. I could never get it ahead of time. I so want to see it as it unfolds on Sunday nights! I bet it’s going to make us cry and be filled with love! That Julian Fellowes knows his audience!

  26. Sharon (O'Hare) Meagher says:

    Hi Sue!
    Loved your post. Leave your dining set in the window, and maybe some Christmas boughs (oohh, the lovely scent!) hanging in the window, a few shiny ornaments and scattered sparkly twinkles. The smaller tree really showcases your ornaments, and looks fab!
    Off to Seal Beach this coming Friday to deliver my Mom’s tree, a fresh wreath, and a beautiful poinsettia. If you ever need anything delivered (or anything) to your Momma, let me know. I’m there usually every other weekend checking on mine.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Sharon, that’s so sweet. Over the last weeks we’ve been moving my mom into the same place my Uncle Dick lives. And it was actually completed this weekend, believe it or not. Jackie has her new phone number. Give your mom a big hug for me!

      • Sharon (O'Hare) Meagher says:

        Hi Susan,
        My Mom had told me you kiddos were planning in that direction with your Mom. I will be down this weekend so we will go visit.
        Hugs back to you!

        • sbranch says:

          She loves it Sharon. Tell your mom she’s been to exercise class every day since she got there! She also won two candy bars yesterday betting on some sort of horse race!

      • carmel says:

        All the very best to your mom in her new home. Prayers go with this wish.

        • sbranch says:

          I’m thrilled to say she is loving it! She was getting too isolated where she lived before, now she just walks out her door to a world of interesting things to do. She’s been to exercise class every day since she got there! YAY!

  27. Beth L. says:

    We had a similar situation with all the Thanksgiving Hoopla and then my daughter’s 28th Birthday celebration with out of town family…by Saturday afternoon I couldn’t begin to think of getting and decorating a Christmas Tree while staring at my rotting pumpkins covered in Birthday streamers!!! Ugh. But I stuck some holly berries in a small glass vase, lit a pine-scented candle, and put on The Messiah! Ahhh…this is what I Love!!! And now I am ready for the rest!

    And Sweet Charlotte….what a cutie patootie!!! She looks like Vanna at that age!

  28. Ann Woleben says:

    Drat the luck! I really wanted to win, but I will be gracious and say that I am excited for Bridget and Brittany – I am! As I am preparing for our Christmas bridge party for twelve – dinner, cards, small gifts – I am inspired by a glimpse of your decorations and table settings. Yes, sparkling glass and candlelight, crisp table linens, handmade place cards, blooming paper whites – the works! FUN! Then the joy of candlelight, hymns, and a community concert at a neighboring church. December is truly a wondrous month! Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe~

  29. Mary Brehm says:

    Dear Sue, You always pop up at the most awesome times. Hard day…tired…feeling overwhelmed then I turn on the computer and Poof! There you are with another wonderful post. I made myself a cup of coffee, got my second wind and just finished making my sideboard sparkle ala Susan! Thanks for that. I loved your triple name cards…so cute! The pizza party sounds like it was so much fun! My Husband built a pizza/bread oven in our back yard. We have had some wonderful pizza parties…he makes the best pizzas and home made bread. Last year I bought him a giant flag that says PIZZA on it and he hangs it out on the porch before our company comes…so much fun. I’m happy for your winners..I hope they enjoy their goodies. Once again you had me burst out laughing when you showed that picture of your tree…we have all been there haven’t we? Ya gotta laugh, right? My husband bought the biggest sturdiest stand he could find….it’s a beast and it works great! Have fun getting your house ready for Christmas! I wish you could come over and see mine…I’m sure all the girlfriends feel the same way…Happy Happy!

  30. Maddie says:

    Your books, blog, and love for all things lovely make me so happy! It seems you always post a new post on a day when I need it thank you! You’ve given me hope that being a dreamer and wanderer will eventually lead to a life of happiness. XO

  31. Kit says:

    Hello! We have also had the question of where to put the tree, but we really only have the one spot in the front window which involves the moving of a huge chair, and various plants and plant stands. But it’s worth it, since it is for only one month. Your tree in the window was so pretty, if we were voting, I would vote for the big tree. Have a wonderful holiday season and congrats to the winners! 🙂 Kit

  32. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan, congratulations to your winners! They have to be a couple of happy and merry people! I loved the song…made me smile… Sounds like you had a fun celebration with your friends!! Good times do linger days after don’t they? I’m sure your home will be beautiful and festive for the holidays… Be sure to love and enjoy the season.. I don’t think I’ll do much decorating this year… I miss my honey being here to share it with me. We did hang a pretty wreath on his door yesterday. Today God gave us a winter wonderland! It was gorgeous, but had to stay home due to all those 6″ of snow** So missed seeing my honey. Thank you for the gift of that bookmarker! You’re the best! Blessings to you, Joe and those cuddly kitties.

  33. Susan Markle says:

    Thank you for the 2016 moon bookmark–I’m printing 10 and sharing them with my book club at our December meeting. It is a tiny, delightful treat! Shouldn’t December be full of them?! I vote YES!

  34. Erin Middlebrooks says:

    You are a treasure Susan Branch. I know that every single one of us, the girlfriends, is very thankful that we found you and get to share your life. You bring sunshine into every day.
    Thank you.

  35. LINDA JUNE says:

    Another uplifting blog, even though I didn’t win. Glad for those who did, and I’m going to keep “entering” and replying. In the meantime, I want you to know that I truly look forward to each and every one of your blogs to see your beautiful handwriting, illustrations, and decorating skills. Beautiful!

  36. Kristenlynn Rook says:

    I bought my first edition Heart when it was just out and have done the same with each of your other books. I re-read them allllllll the time. I simply adore you 💕

  37. Daralyn says:

    I find myself grateful once again for a pleasant spot to land.
    A little too much life these days. My father passed away a few
    weeks ago and other life hits just keep coming at me. I have a strong
    faith but sometimes, I just need a little boost.
    Thank you for the peace, the beauty and the encouragement 🙂

    In just a few hours, it will be a brand new day!

    • sbranch says:

      We all need that sometimes Daralyn, I’m so happy you’re here. Brand new day, brand new month, and soon, a brand new year! xoxo

    • charissa says:

      Dear Daralynn, I hate that you are going through a hard time right now. I am so sorry for your loss and hits. Just wanted you to know someone was rooting for you. xo hugs

    • Ro'se from her 'cottage' in NJ says:

      Just wanted you to know, You have a lot of girl-friends that say a prayer for you when they read your post, God holds you and your family in His hands at times like these.

    • Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

      Hugs and prayers!

  38. Barbara Harris says:

    Thank you for the Full Moon Bookmark. One of my favorite little treats. I have been revisiting A Fine Romance in preparation for a future visit to England with my dear sister. She left the itinerary up to me, silly girl! I was keeping my fingers crossed, hoping to win a copy of the book for her. Maybe next time!! Have the fun is in the anticipation.

    • Barbara Harris says:

      Sorry. I really need to proof read when I am tired! HALF the fun is in the anticipation…and really, that is the fun!

    • sbranch says:

      Go to the top of the blog page where it says I Love England, there’s a drop down and at the bottom is “Appendix for A Fine Romance” — it’s by page number, and also there’s one that’s alphabetical. Go there for lots of links to things in England, places to stay and all kinds of things that might help you plan your trip.

  39. Gladys Marie says:

    “Bye for Now.” That’s how my daughter and I end our phone conversations. Susan, your visits are wonderful. You truly do our hearts so much good. Bless You. “Bye for Now.”

  40. judi says:

    Rabbit, rabbit! Happy December to all. Congrats to your winners. Always love your holiday decorating and the parties/dinners you have.

    Looked through my Christmas cookie recipes yesterday and decided to make spritz tomorrow. Some of them will be given to friends for a fundraising bake sale Saturday. Would love to get some of that Minnesota snow down here in FL to help with the Christmas spirit😊❄️ xo judi

  41. Congratulations to the winners! But we all win when we come to your Web Journal for a visit. ☺︎ Was Bob’s birthday actually on Sunday? If so, we share the same day! The only other people I know of who share my birthday are Louisa May Alcott and her father, Bronson, and my cousin. Is that your art on the place cards? I finally started drawing this year and put my art on my Thanksgiving place cards. It was very thrilling to be able to do so. I attribute my new-found drawing abilities to YOU! Because I’ve wanted so badly to draw and paint like you and because you’ve always encouraged me to keep at it, I did keep at it and finally succeeded–but I have a long way to go before I can draw as easily and beautifully as you do……but I’ll get there. Practice, practice, practice.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it was, and Happy Birthday to you too Cathy! The only one of those place cards done with my art was the candy cane. I’m still practicing, so that’s just the normal way of art!

      • Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

        Actually, Cathy has been sharing her art journey with us via her blog, and I have to say her hard work is paying off. Her Autumn leaves and acorns was just beautiful! 🙂

  42. Stephanie C. says:

    Hi Susan! Congrats to the winners!!! I am so excited about the republishing of your first book. My cover is a little tattered because I have had it for years and use it often. I own all of your books and they have a special place in my kitchen.

    We had a great Thanksgiving weekend and soooo much to be thankful for, one thing is my Daughter turned 30! She is such a blessing:) Wow! Time goes by so fast. We will be cutting our tree this weekend. Have fun decorating for the holidays!

  43. Linda Metcalf says:

    Loving the BIG tree! I’d like to have the room for one ….if there were never a wrapped present under it. The gift of the tree would be enough. Jack is adorable.

  44. Carol in Indy says:

    Good morning, dear Susan.
    How lovely to see your Christmas decorations! But I thank you for allowing Thanksgiving its due and not rushing headlong into Christmas. 30 years! Congratulations! Did you know that the traditional gift for the 30th anniversary is pearls? Yes it is! I am a member of the Conner Prairie Alliance that raises money for this beautiful living history museum. (You visited us on your book tour for the Autumn Book) We celebrated our 30th anniversary this year and we all wore our pearls every day at The Apple Store that we run as our fund raiser. I even created a limited edition pearl caramel apple to commemorate the year. We had such fun with it! So dust off your pearls and celebrate!
    And is Princess Charlotte too cute for words! Pink cashmere and a Laura Ashley’ish dress. I like Kate’s style. 🙂

  45. winnie Nielsen says:

    First of all, Congratulations to the winners!! Awesome!

    I had to laugh at the tree fallen down because we have experienced the same thing from time to time. Once the tree was down and our yellow Lab(who was so wonderful and sweet) stood there looking apologetic at the mess on the floor. LOL!! I feel sure it was not his fault, but he knew that the tree wasn’t supposed to be looking like it did. We all had such a laugh at his concern!

    With unusually warm temperatures this November, I am still steeped in the feel of late Fall down here in Florida. It is not as humid, the evenings are cooler, the windows are open, and our few deciduous trees are showing color now. It is hard to put all the pumpkins away and put up Christmas! Maybe a cold snap will happen soon.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your holiday celebrations complete with photos of that adorable JACK! And I agree that a little update on your first book would be wonderful. It would be fun to get a new copy with 16 new pages!!

    Happy December, Susan! We have had such a fun year here at your blog and 2016 is going to pull out the stops with another book tour and a trip to England! Whoop!!

  46. Pam says:

    Congratulations to the two lucky ladies. That Vanna sure is a character! I can’t believe it’s December already. We haven’t started decorating yet, I’m just in the middle of cleaning the house before getting it ready for Christmas. I did remember to put the advent calendar up today though. Your decorations look so pretty, I’m going to go long is candles this year I think.

  47. DeLynn Midcalf says:

    Received your latest book (The Fairy Tale Girl) yesterday and read the entire thing…. enjoyed it immensely, especially the part when you girls met the Beatles!! Can’t wait to receive your follow-up book this spring. Really enjoyed reading your blog this morning. Thank you for being you.

  48. Peggy says:

    Thank you Susan! I was dreading decorating for Christmas until I read this blog! Now I am digging out old books and and special trinkets and I want to set the table for something! I am thinking I definitely need an angel chime!
    I wanted to ask you if you have ever thought of writing a children’s book? I babysit my 16 month old grandson and we spend a lot of time reading. He loves our cat and his dog. I try to take him outside as much as I can and have such hopes he will love animals and nature. So I figure you are the perfect candidate to write a children’s book as you love animals and nature! I can already see the paintings! Just a thought.

  49. Ruth thomas says:

    Love your sparkling decorations. Congrats to the lucky winners. Got my tree up but still more to do. I think I need some angel chimes for sure. I love the one that is in the movie Christmas Vacation with the cute moose mugs. Happy day!

  50. Amy Lynn in the Attic says:

    Love your sweet heart Susan… Merry Christmas!
    Amy Lynn

  51. Karla Barry says:

    Thank you so much for the “full moon” bookmark. My grand daughter is 4 and she is both a lover of books and the full moon. When we’re camping with her, she is always the first one who sees the moon come up and she gets so excited. I can’t wait to give her the bookmark!!

  52. Sydney Gines says:

    What a wonderful way to start my day by reading your new post. I am thrilled to have the day totally free. I am near giddy with anticipation of bringing the magic of Christmas into our home—and it begins today! Thank you for all the inspiration. I, too, have just flung a load of laundry on the couch, and I have my Andy Williams Christmas CD softly playing in the background (my sister’s and I grew up on Andy Williams because of my Mother’s love of music….thank goodness). I look forward to breaking out my new Christmas table clothe, candles, glass, ornaments, etc. Such joy. I will be trying the fruit dipped in egg whites and then covered in white sugar. How divine.
    Thank-you, too, for the book mark. I am going to give each one of my daughters (biggest readers and nature lovers, ever) one of your book marks at our mom and daughters lunch. We love our yearly holiday lunch of soup, salad, bread and cookies. Such a wonderful visit time for us all.
    Happiness to you….xo

  53. Ann says:

    Congratulations to the winners! Thrilled that you are republishing Heart of the Home. I bought the original one in MV many years ago when my sons were little boys and they are now grown men. I refer to it often!

  54. Judy Wooley says:

    Congratulations to the two lucky winners but we are the real winners for getting to read your blog and Willard! Have a great day Judy from KY

  55. Naomi Jones says:

    Always enjoyable! I have started reading the blog posts to my toddlers. They were laughing at Jack.

    Here is a message from my 6 yr old, Phoebe: “I like your cats!” Here is a message from my almost 4 yr old (birthday on Saturday), Eliza: “I like your house and it’s soooo cozy.” From Silas, my 2 yr old: “Peder dee Woof” (Peter and the Wolf).

  56. Cheryl says:

    Congratulations to the winners!
    I love the picture of the table with the tree but I am sure either way is so magical. I just love this time of year!

  57. Jayne says:

    You are making me feel old. I won a copy of Heart of the Home the year it came out. I worked for Time-Life Books, which was a sister company for Little Brown and they shared the book. I just fell in love with you and your ideas. I’m hoping to see you at Powell’s Books in Portland OR.

  58. sondra fox says:

    Dear, sweet Susan, What exactly is it about you, in that you can come up with such charming blogs, each & every time? As I’m reading your words, looking at the pictures, I’m thinking, yes, I do need to wash all my glass candlestick holders, yet, I do need to clean my mirrors. Those are things I needed reminders of. Thank you. As for the tree that fell over, oh my! Good reminder that it might happen to all of us. There’s always one side of the tree that gets the most ornaments. One of my Grand Sons (I’m so blessed) came over yesterday to help me put up an outside lighted manager. I fixed stuffed peppers for our lunch, then he went to work on the manager. We were wondering if the sprinklers, or wind, would play havoc on the manager. I woke up this morning, knowing the sprinklers went off in the early, early morning, thinking I’d possibly see the manager knocked over. Alas, there it stood! I think God has a hand in this miracle, pronouncing to anyone who drives up our street, or to family & friends, that His Son was born in a manager. There it stands, the manager, all lite up & bright in the night scape. No more fear of it falling over. It proclaims a message that is in my heart, that this is the season to remember that we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  59. Mona in Riverbank CA says:

    Congratulations to the winners – they have to be dancing this morning! Our first year in our new house we had the perfect place for our tree in front of the big window in our living room. The house has an extra tall ceiling, so we splurged and got an extra tall tree. It was so beautiful! Luckily, our cats are not too interested in Christmas trees, so all went well. However, this year, we have a new dog, Hank, about 7 months old, and very rambunctious. I’m not sure how that will work out tree-wise. We may have to paint a tree or make one out of lights on the wall!

    I can’t wait for your reprinted Heart of the Home. I just found a first edition of the original and bought it even though I already had a later edition, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the new one, right? That’s only three, totally not too many. 🙂

    Love the bookmark – full moons are my favorite! I loved how the full moon this year was on Thanksgiving Day. It was a reminder to me that all hearts should be full of gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. I am grateful for you as a blessing. You make me feel like good things are all around me. Thank you for sharing your house and home and family and friends and kitties with us. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas with love from sunny and freezing central CA!

  60. Charissa says:

    Yay Susan, I have been bursting to comment on your last 2 posts. So this might be a long one… Tea, Christmas music, fire in the fireplace, candle that crackles to simulate smell and noise of real fire… check… Your book in Chinese!!!! Aaack that is so exciting and it looks just as beautiful as the English version. They did a really great job. So happy for you.

    That painting of you singing your fear song.. perfect, but sad and funny at the same time.

    I love Joe. I love Joe for many reasons (mostly because he reminds me of my husband and he is good to you), but today I love Joe for this salmon recipe. I loved that he let you take pictures as he prepared it and then I loved how it made my head explode after I made it and tasted it. Hugs and thanks to Joe!!!

    Thank you so much for the Orchard House screensaver!!!! I love Louisa so much. My first Christmas present from my husband was a set of her first edition books!

    Your next post was such a sweet and thoughtful post about the stories of girlfriends and their lives and what they mean to you. I so enjoy reading about everyone’s lives and trying to give someone a little boost if they need it. I feel like all our lives are intertwined because of you. So for Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say how thankful I am for you and all the beauty you bring to the world both what we can see and what we cannot!!!! AND I am so thankful for ALL THE GIRLFRIENDS that take the time to share their lives here. It is always the 2nd best part of my day (1st is permanently reserved for Hubby:))

    Your tables have always been an inspiration. I think you have far surpassed your previous landlords;) You make everything so special and cozy. I too love decorating with old books. Wish I could send pictures. Your Christmas Tea looks like everything I could ever want a Christmas Tea to be!!!! (I also LOVE that you have a friend named Tom because that is my hubby’s name and it makes me pretend we were invited when I see his name on the placecards) Your living room looks like the perfect mix of fancy and pretty but not trying to hard so it is still cozy. I just realized this was always my motto when trying to get dressed for dates when I was younger:) ha lol

    I love your painting of that darling turkey! A girlfriend said the turkeys in her yard liked to be pet. It was all I could think about at Thanksgiving:( Love that old photo of your house. How wonderful to have that!!

    So happy for Brittany and Bridget CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! What an exciting package to get in the mail. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB YOU LUCKY DUCK!!!!

    I have no words for Charlotte perfection cannot be improved upon:)

    Ok… for the tree debate of 2015 … I vote GO BIG… The change of what the room looks like makes it more special. Plus, big may not be an option one day so do it while it is. Loved that photo of Joe and his look. It breaks my heart though and hope nothing was broken. I hate when ornaments break… it is like losing and old friend.

    I found that angel chime video last year and I went garage/estate saling and found some. They make it extra cozy. So I suggest the GFs buy it. (wish we could rate them. They mesmerize children and adults alike) My angel of a husband takes me every Saturday even though he could care less about it and chauffeurs me around and plans a route for us with some ingenious app he found and all he asks for in return is to stop to get breakfast and to let him stay in the car and read the WSJ! I will never forget that I am the lucky one and hit the jackpot. So… he really wanted a certain watch this year. And he is the type of guy who never wants anything. I gave up my christmas this year and next year so he could get it. It took A LOT of me begging, but he finally let me since I had to stop working and couldn’t pay for it on my own this time. It feels like a real Christmas now!!

    So exciting about your book tour. Can’t wait for Austin!! I messaged Book People twice on Facebook and never got a response so I will call.

    I love Jack rolling in the warm laundry. Actually, I love Jack anywhere. He is so photogenic and actually stays in place for photographs. Our kitties growing up were always just a blur in the pic.

    Well I have rambled on long enough. Thank you again for all the joy you bring to my life xoxo

  61. Jane S says:

    A thousand thank yous in all you do to encourage me to make my house a home! Also I love painting too, get up early when it’s quiet and start painting! You are such a gift!

  62. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    So happy to see the new post today. I loved turning over the calendar to December….. Christmas (my favorite all time holiday) will be here before we know it! It’s starting to look very festive as I have the tree and other decorations up. Am thinking of going through some cookie recipes and a party mix recipe today. Looking forward to baking lots of cookies and giving a plate full to neighbors and friends this year.

    As postage stamps are becoming so expensive, I’m not sending out lots of Christmas cards as in the past. I will type a short letter to family and friends on Facebook instead. E-cards for other friends that I don’t hear from. Of course, my very long time friends I will write and send out ‘real’ cards. Whenever I think about it, it’s sad to think the tradition of sending cards will be vanishing in a few short years. I do send out ‘thinking of you’ cards from time to time all year long though.

    So happy for the 2 winners of the drawing that was just had. It’s always exciting to see who the winner is going to be and their reaction.

    This is hoping that you and all the girlfriends and guys had a wondering thankful Thanksgiving this year.

    Carol M

  63. Lori C. says:

    Happiness to the two winners!
    I have your very delightful first cookbook on proud display – decorating my white kitchen hutch.
    Loved the angel chime video – white and gold are so classy together – and all your decorations!!!

    • sbranch says:

      You made me think . . . I sort of have the red and white room in the living room, the white and gold in the dining room, and the country kitchen in the kitchen.

  64. Nancy says:

    Thank you, Thank you Susan for the 2016 Moon Phase bookmark! I was so hoping you would do another this year. I shared it with several friends who love the moon and the names of the moon too!
    Have a happy day and good luck with the big decision! I vote to keep the table in the living room so you can eat by the fire – so romantic and warm!
    Blessings to you, Joe and the kitties.

  65. Debi says:

    I just have a quick question. I used to receive your blog via email, but since the Willard came out, I’m now receiving just the notice of your blog via email. I have to click on the “Continue reading” which will take me to the blog. I was just wondering why. Thanks. And, I must say, I absolutely love your blog and your books and everything else!!!! So, for all that, THANK YOU!

    • sbranch says:

      We changed it because we get SO MUCH mail from people who weren’t able to leave a comment when the entire blog was sent to them — for some reason, it wasn’t included in that email. So we thought that instead of having it arrive without the comment link, we would get people to the place where they could see it. Does that make sense?

  66. Nettie says:

    love love love the new post…………I am now inspired as usual by you…..I am glad you made two women so happy….some day I just know I am going to get an email saying I am the winner but for now I am happy for them…..enjoy all the glitter and wrappings of getting ready………Christmas time is a wonderful time of the year…..

  67. peg says:

    December 1! Flip the page on the calendar! check! Review email! check! OH!!! New blog post from darling Sue ~ ! Stop…get tea…slooooowly read! check! Really, it’s like a mini-Willard! Today’s was so festive and fun! I wish you could have gotten a photo of Vanna in her get-up today….it would have been fun to see what she had cooked up!

    We, too, are slowly decking the halls. The Christmas trees out here have hit the lots…and they are already dropping piles of needles! I’m really wondering if we are going to have to invest in a faux tree this year…just to be safe? Most of the tree farms that used to be in our area have closed so it looks like we will need to think hard before bringing in a pre-cut tree.

    Meanwhile, my mind is a-whirl with ideas for everything Christmas! Gifts, menus, table settings, music, classic movies! It finally dropped to the 40s at night….wool socks are a must during the day! Oo0oO00o! Christmas weather! I simply love Christmas!

    Do take pictures of your Christmas tree and decorations around your home this year and share them with us. We always can use more inspiration…sometimes I like to shake things up and move things around so everything looks ‘new’ even though its just the treasures we have collected over the years!

    Have a great week, Sue! Hi to Joe! xoxo peg

  68. Ellen says:

    Thanks for the bookmarks! I love those every year. Oh and after reading Fairy Tale Girl I must let you know that every month when I tear off the past month on my blotter calendar I cut it up into all different sizes and use the backs for grocery lists and little notes to self. My mother was like yours — no waste! 🙂 🙂

  69. Terri Brewster says:

    Love the blog post. Christmas decorations are done and the house seems so festive and warm. Enjoy decorating your home. I bought a few of the books for gifts this year, they are lovely. Just changed my desk calendar/blotter to December and it put a huge smile on my face. So glad I already have next year’s on hand when January rolls around.
    Thank you for all the beautiful books and calendars.

  70. Karen Lotito says:

    A lovely post as always. Did you watch Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown last night? It’s hard to believe that it’s his 50-year celebration! The decorating is done, the trees are up, I’m almost finished with shopping and now thinking about baking. I received my Autumn head charm in the mail yesterday. I’ll wear it to remind me of my favorite season and how it goes by way too fast. Winter doesn’t begin until the Solstice on the 22nd but somehow we get caught up in Christmas and forget that it’s still really Fall. I hope you and Joe had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  71. bobbie Calgaro says:

    Enjoyed reading your post on this cold rainy day. Just the antidote for grayness outside. I had to laugh at your Christmas tree failure. I thought for sure Jack knocked it down. Our cats have done that in the past.

  72. Sharon Maier says:

    Regarding your tree, I had the same dilemma in my house, and for the past few years I’ve put up several mini trees scattered around instead of one large one, each with a different theme. I always have a Beatrix Potter tree, and then change out the others — old fashioned toys, angels, nutcrackers, animals, etc. Since I’ve collected ornaments for many years, there are several options. The grandkids especially enjoy seeing them. You can always put a large glittery centerpiece with candles on the table that can be seen from outside.
    Merry Merry! And as always, hugs to Jack and Girl Kitty…

  73. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Congrats to the lucky winners. I sent for my own Christmas from the Heart of the Home. Loved it and sent for another for my daughter. Great bunch of pictures, putting me in the proper mood – thank you very much. Love the one of Joe pondering the fallen tree 🙂 I sent for one of those Charlie Brown trees and set it up on Thanksgiving. Turns out I LOVE IT! But I’m sure I’ll get carried away with other decorations as the days role on. Oh my gosh, the little Princess . . . That pensive expression is really something. Darling girl, I wish her happiness. I wish everyone happiness. I HAVE the Christmas spirit. YAY.

  74. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    Hi Susan, well, you’ve done it again…………Made my day! Love the blog, congrats to Bridget and Brittany.

  75. Karen Williams says:

    Beautiful blog again, Susan, thank you! Have hopefully printed it off…will nip upstairs in a mo, to see if it’s worked…I’m downstairs on my liddle iPad!

    Well done to the girls who won….they must be as chuffed as chuffed things! Sad not to win, but hey ho, it wasn’t meant to be this time!

    Please, please, cheesy peas, have a huge tree and put it in the front window…you’ll be sharing it with the world as they go by your beautiful home…it looked amazing from the photos in past years! I really want a big, fresh tree each year, but OH says no, so we use our artificial one…so you must, must, must have one on my behalf!!!! Am sure I’ll see the lights and feel the warmth from across The Pond!!!
    With love to you all over there and girlfriends here in Blighty!
    Karen xoxoxoxoxo
    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
    (Not your cute homemade language but Welsh!)
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • sbranch says:

      Welsh wins over Arf and Arfy every single time! 🙂

    • Susan Morgon ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

      I loved seeing the Welsh holiday wishes in your post, Karen! My paternal grandparents both were of Welsh ancestry , with my grandmother’s surname being Williams before she married a Thomas. Who knows, you may be an 8th cousin!

  76. Sally Roth says:

    Thank you, Susan, for another glimpse of your happy world with a plethora of ideas for all sorts of things (don’t you love the word plethora?).
    I look forward so much to your 2016 book tour, also your book. Wherever this nomad is at that time, I’ll try to find you. As for the tree, I’d go for alternating years with big tree vs. table… with the big tree this year!
    Your fallen tree reminded me that years ago, when our baby was almost one, we had Christmas at an aunt’s house. She chose to put the tree in front of a closed door. We reminded her that the door must remain closed for obvious reasons. The tree was gorgeously decorated and Sarah was on the floor nearby, playing with ribbons when the aunt herself burst through the door. The tree came crashing down and there was a stunned silence while we all marveled that no harm had been done except to a few precious ornaments. Our daughter appeared to be oblivious to everything except her ribbons! Lesson learned, tie the tree.

  77. I’ve become quite fond of Vana even though she’s a little bit (!) of a prima donna. I always see the fairy in the room. 😎

  78. Virginia says:

    Another wonderful inspiring post. I loved the video! My vote is for the big tree in the window. It’s only for one month and there is nothing more magical than a tall Christmas tree. I turn the room lights off and I am five years old again and waiting for Santa.

    Our cats liked to climb the tree so we too found out the hard way that we had to tie it up. It’s quite invisible. I also get a tall skinny, not fat, tree to allow for more space in the room–that works for us. And it still looks HUGE.

    I was overwhelmed by the boxes of decorations all over the downstairs but your post has inspired me to get back at it and enjoy the process, not just the result. Thanks again, Susan.

    • Virginia says:

      Just a quick question–my post above from yesterday–Dec. 1 at 3:38pm– is still awaiting moderation tho the others after it went thru. Hope I didn’t do something wrong!

      • sbranch says:

        I’m sure you didn’t . . . I have about 75 comments to “moderate” right now, I imagine you are one of them! Sorry, been lost in painting for the new book all day today.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m the same way, a dark room with a lit tree (and Dean Martin singing Christmas songs) and I am also five years old again!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        we play Bing Crosby while decorating our tree, family habit I guess as my mom did it when I was a kid.

  79. C.M. says:

    Susan, You are delight and your blog & books are always so uplifting! Thank you!

  80. Pat C. says:

    Thank you, Susan, for putting me in a lovely holiday mood. Am looking forward to putting some “magic” in my decorating. You mentioned a few years back a Christmas-themed book by a gentleman. The book is out of print but I think you might have gotten a copy at an antique store. I can’t recall the title but you recommended it. Would you remember the title and author?

  81. Suzanne C says:

    Oh Susan
    As I sat with my tea this morning and read your last blog…I remembered how the tree fell for you guys, as I sat finishing the blog and typing my post my tree sitting next to me FELL over…wow how awful that feeling is…especially to see it happen right in front of you…it took me the morning to get it back up and decorated but I was also lucky that I only lost one major important ornament the rest were generic filler ornaments…..well it was just such a coincidence to read about yours and mine picks that exact time to do it….Merry Christmas it will not stop our good holiday!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s a very strange thing! I remember ours ~ it was like slow motion.

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        when our tree fell over it was very early in the morning of the day we were going to undecorate it so at least we didn’t have to clean up the mess and then start fresh. We were still in bed and all we heard was a swoosh sound and then a thud! The worst part was the water from the stand making the red ornaments “bleed” all over our carpet. Once in 39 years isn’t too bad, I guess. Here’s to no toppling trees this year for anyone. Hugs.

      • Suzanne C says:

        Yes I was sitting right there and is just went down….sad very sad….but its back up and redecorated and safe……

  82. I can not thank you enough for the pure joy and peaceful sensations I experience each and very time I read one of your blogs! I love EVERYTHING…Jack and Miss Kitty, your beautiful home, your superb writing style, your wonderful sense of humor, your appreciation of all of that nature offers, your loving relationship with Joe…stop me now! Thanks….because in this world we live in, it would be very easy to get stuck in the mire of overwhelming sadness. You, however, offer us multitudes of happy moments of true bliss, and I am so very grateful.

  83. Phoebe says:

    Oh good – RJ Julia’s! Met you there years ago!
    Will have to be sure to go this time too – and bring my mom and hopefully my sister too! Will we need tickets for that one too?
    That little Princess Charlotte is adorable! Thanks for sharing that.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think we’ll have tickets at RJ Julia, but if we do I’ll let you know. I really don’t think so though. I’ll love seeing you there!

  84. Kathy says:

    Oooooh tough tough decision on the table and the tree. I love big full trees centered in a window! However, I’d never be able to part with that table location for even a holiday season! I would breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, coffee and hot cocoa there ALL THE TIME (yes, those are all verbs!). I would read there and write Christmas cards there and do everything but nap there! I vote for the table to stay and a smaller tree!

    • sbranch says:

      That was very good convincing right there! 🙂 It’s always really up to Joe, either because he loves a big tree, or because he doesn’t feel like taking out the table . . . so it is yet to be discovered!

  85. Bonnie says:

    Great picture of Jack. Brings back memories. Our cats used to help make the bed as well. 🙂

  86. Pat E says:

    We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend here in Denver – snowed off and on and cold and very holiday-ish. It was the perfect time to start decorating for Christmas. Now we need some Christmas bookmarks, too. I love bookmarks, especially yours. They are little bits of art you can appreciate anywhere. I always get bookmarks as souvenirs of places I go and, of course, any especially pretty ones. Don’t you think Princess Charlotte looks just like her dad as a baby? It was the first thing I thought. Keep the blogs and Willards coming. They are always a bright spot in our day! TTFN!

  87. Carol On the farm in Iowa says:

    Thank you for your cheery post. Your party, your way of looking at and embracing life makes me smile. It’s snowing gently here, clinging to the trees and bushes. Beautiful! 🌬 ❄️🎄

  88. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    How fun for the winners* Love all the pretty pictures. I have those sweet angel chimes. We love them, they sound so pretty
    I think a big tree or a little one would be so pretty in that spot. I am afraid to get a real tree. I read somewhere that spiders live in pine trees and can hatch in your home and hundreds of spiders are all over your house. Oh my gosh. I am sure that doesn’t happen to everyone but I am way too scared to find out. Would love to hear if anyone has had that happen. Can’t wait to see your Christmas decorations this year Susan. Your party for Bob looked fantastic* have a great day Susan

  89. Pamala black says:

    I love the moon bookmark!!!! Thank you!!

  90. Joann says:

    Congratulations to the lovely ladies who won—-blessings all around!!! OK, we are not decorated either, so I’m going to cut this short, tell you I love you and all you do, and go open some boxes of pretties!!!

    OK, more later…………..


  91. Sharon Elaine says:

    Just in case I didn’t win, I used my birthday gift card and ordered both books. I finished The FairyTale Girl in a day and just left Sissinghurst so off I go to my favorite chair continuing my journey. So glad you are back on dry land – I felt anxiety and nausea with you. I don’t enjoy flying or sailing – so this is my only hope of vicariously visiting England. What a beautiful love story – can’t wait to read the rest. It had to be difficult reliving all the emotion and memories. You write from your heart and we receive it in ours.

  92. B. Franklin says:

    Someone once said….you need to decide where you are going to put the Christmas tree before you buy a house. Always made me smile. Susan, you made that choice…but then what a beautiful place to put a table as well. sigh.

    So is there room to put the tree there where you intended it, and if you had a drop leaf table, you could put it behind the chair or hustle the sofa there, where the chair is, just for the season. Bring the feel of the tree into your room with the same boughs and light theme decoration so it stays cohesive.

    Whatever you decide, will be wonderful.

  93. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Congrats’ to the “B” Girlfriend’s…Bridget & Brittany! Enjoy your treasures.

    Susan, I always take away something special from each and every sweet post you share with us. Thank you!

    You’re a dear heart, indeed.

    Happy December Everyone!

    • Margot at the Beach says:

      Hi Marie,
      I was up your way on Monday, and I will be there Sunday and Thursday of next week. Thursday I am giving my sister the tour!

  94. Margot at the Beach says:

    I like playing house too! We would have been good playmates. 🙂
    When I was in Crete the people ate a lot of arugula, so I am eating more of it now. I have noticed when you use the olive oil and lemon like they do, it takes away the bitterness.
    PS Their herb mix for that dressing is mainly oregano.

    Packing like crazy…I would love to go to Plainville. By April the weather should be nice.

  95. Gina P. from NY says:

    Hi Susan! I want to congratulate the winners! Bravo! It looks like your dinner party was a big success. Your home looked cozy and inviting as usual. No worries that you are still celebrating Thanksgiving! I always feel we rush through that holiday way too fast anyway to get to Christmas!

    By the way, I love the table in front of your window, and the tree on the side. What a lovely corner to enjoy a meal while watching the snow come down, yet still being able to enjoy the tree in all it’s loveliness… But it is fun to change things up each year, isn’t it? I do put my tree in front of my sliding doors in my apartment. I live on the 7th floor of my building, and sometimes, when I have to run out to do an errand in the evening, I leave the tree lit and love to look up and see it as I’m walking up from the parking lot. I can actually see it from a few blocks away as I’m driving since my apartment is so high up, actually above the trees and on a hill.

    In one of your earlier posts, you included a picture of some ways to decorate with books, and saw some of your Christmas collection of books. I also love collecting Christmas books, and along with your Christmas book, I have a nice inventory that I like to put on my coffee table during the holidays. But I also looked for the book “Home for Christmas” that you had in the picture and managed to find it on Ebay. I just received it this evening, and can’t wait to read it on a stormy day when I’m home hanging out in my PJ’s and a cup of cocoa. What a find!

    I know we will love to see what you finally decide when you decorate for Christmas. Tree by the window or table by the window? Hmmmm…

  96. Sharlene Piscitelli says:

    Congratulations to the lucky winners! I always look forward to your blog posts especially at the holidays with all your gorgeous decorating. Just like those darling kitties, I love the big tree too! I am really excited about the republishing of Heart of the Home and I hope you will do the same for all of your out of print books. I discovered your wonderful books through the library which is great, but I really would love to have my own copies to treasure. Wishing you and Joe all the blessings and happiness of the Christmas season!

  97. charissa says:

    PS I forgot to say I love the idea of you reprinting all your books . It will be nice to have ones with new outfits. I am still hoping for a brand new Christmas book. Just want that noted in case it makes a difference. I will still buy the updated Christmas from the Heart book too. Xoxo
    My husband has taken to saying that I am your retirement plan because of what I buy and give to friends. I thought that was funny hee hee

  98. Candy Northrop says:

    It is always so inspirational to see your decorations, Susan. Jack is such a spunky guy; the warm clothes are so fun to nuzzle into!!! I didn’t win the drawing; never have. Yet I am ever the optimist. Once I get over my sadness of not winning, I realize that I am so richly blessed that I have already won! Enjoy the season of Christmas, Susan, and all the Girlfriends!!! Blessings to you, cn XOXOXO

  99. Linda Pintarell says:

    My vote…large Christmas tree! That is just the perfect place. I am sure the table will be moved back right after the holidays.

  100. Robin Medley says:

    Hope you pick me me me me mmmmmmmmmme

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