On with the Dance!

Good Morning Dear Ones, On with the Dance! . . .  MUSICA



our house in the snow


Well, this is my house in the snow, but this is NOT how it looks around here. That’s why I love this blog, it can be just the way I want it to be despite what is going on in the real world.


Reality, rise above it!

I prayed for a long fall and got it!! It’s been gorgeous here, long walks every day, just lovely. We know it will end soon, so we are glorying while playing outside much more than normal for the middle of December.

snowflakes r us

In the meantime, inside we MAKE our own Christmas . . . We’ve had lots of snowflakes in our web store . . .

stars, birds, snowflakes

Because I love to hang them in front of mirrors this time of year and thought you might like them too . . . maybe no snow outside, but inside this house, oh yeah, it’s snowing . . .


how to make paper snowflakes

I found this on the Internet, just in case you’d like to make your own!  This works like a charm!Merry In The WinterhollyChristmas vintage postcard

And Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy what ever this season means to you, because A. it’s all about respect, and B. we earth people have SO MUCH MORE IN COMMON than we have differences, but most of all, and I think Jesus would agree, Happy Love. From my folks to your folks, my heart to yours.

CookiesDid you get your Cookie Jar yet?  You will if you’re signed up for Willard! We started sending out our Cookie cookieJar yesterday, filled with wonderful cookie recipes for your exchange parties, everything from butter cookies to Rum Balls, chocolate dipped Macaroons, and cornflake wreaths, yummy! It will be going out to everyone this week, look for it in your emails! And here are some ideas for special things you can do with them if you want to turn them into “more”~give cookies

Christmas Cookies

These beauties were made by my nieces, Annie Hall’s Butter Cookies, the height of creativity!

SB Art SweetnessGladys Taber quote


Baked-Christmas-DecorationsI still have a cookie on my tree I made YEARS ago with this recipe! They last! Mine is a cookie cutter heart with a smaller heart on top of it, painted red.

Jack and JoeWe have our tree . . . that little kitty right there is sitting on my art table now . . . I just picked him up, had my arms around him, rubbing his belly and thinking he is just like a furry soft wiggly teddy bear. He is my perfect Christmas decoration.


Christmas lights

We did it, we took out the table, put our tree in its place, because we love the twinkle in the windows. In this photo it was only wearing lights, but I discovered yesterday that talking on the phone is the perfect time to multi-task ~ I visited with both my mom and dad while I decorated the tree!

decorating outside

Joe made the porches twinkle too . . . When it was dark, we got in the car and drove around the block a couple of times to look at our house . . . we are LIGHT people!

Decorating the top of the stove

And of course, some of my favorite little things are on the shelf on top of the stove . . . lamb and rocking horse, cozy Christmas houses, a stove, trees and holly, music-noteand a doggie and a cardinal!

City sidewalks, tiny music-notesidewalks, dressed in holiday green, in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas . . .

Love the birds

The birds seem happy too . . .

Christmas angel

I hung our paper angel on the tree . . .

Little house decorated for Christmas

And put on lights for the house on the stove . . .

December 2012 calendarThere are so many little ways to celebrate. . .

little things

old fashioned christmas

When you go out shopping, try to be a decoration, wear something red, put on a cute hat, a spring of holly and 


go. be. love.

More than ever.

Christmas bookmarkHere’s a BOOKMARK you can get elfish with, give to your friends and family, stuff a stocking! Just click there and print it out on cardstock. 

MUSICA A song I learned in Sunday School as a child that I’ve sung all my life and still LOVE and believe with all my heart.


We live together on this small beautiful planet, any other way won’t work. We win, not through fear and reaction, but by deliberation and through love and the spirit of Christmas. Besame, besame mucho.❌⭕️

He drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.  But LOVE and I had the WIT to win, we drew a circle that took him in.  Edwin Markham

girl with hearts


prayer for a little homeholly

Blessings on you my Girlfriends. Hope you are having a wonderful season. Please don’t forget the most important thing of all . . . the time you make for the little things, including Little YOU♥. With Love from your Girlfriend, deep breaths, Little Me.❌⭕️



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418 Responses to On with the Dance!

  1. Di Word says:

    Loved your blog today. The sun is shining in Waco, Texas and people are out shopping wearing shorts. My corgi and I are ready for the big day and wish you the very merriest Christmas that you have ever had.

  2. Allison B says:

    Hello! Thank you for the uplifting, happy post! Your Christmas book and cookbook are on the coffee table for the holiday season! Now I’m going to make snowflakes. Merry Christmas to you! Xoxo

  3. Allison B says:

    P.S. We have a beautiful Snow White Dove. She and her sweet coo-ing add such joy to our home!

  4. Lynn S says:

    Dear Susan,

    Your Christmas from the Heart of the Home has been on the kitchen counter here for the past few days,- and flour dust, confectioner’s sugar dust, a bit of shredded coconut… have been found on your pages of baking joy! Annie Hall’s Butter Cookies (VERY popular with neighbors!), Mary’s Mother’s Snowballs, and Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons have all been made and portioned out for friends, and MOST importantly for my son in Arizona. He won’t be coming home for Christmas (sadly) and he didn’t want to miss Mom’s homemade cookies. Needless to say, I am happy to oblige, and have been using Flat Rate boxes to pack up cookies and send them West. One more box to fill and send!

    So many thanks for sharing your recipes and helping make Christmas joy-full and bright! Very best Christmas wishes to you and Joe, and a scruff on the chin for Girl and Jack!


  5. Shell says:

    Whenever I come here to read your blog, I always come away feeling warm and happy inside. May you and Joe have a blessed Merry Christmas.

  6. Rosemary Monk says:

    Dear Susan,
    It’s Friday night, and I’m on a Retreat for the weekend, settled into a lovely old house right on the ocean. One of the windows in my bedroom looks out over the rocks and water, and because it’s still warmish here in Cohasset (in MA) I can leave the window open a crack and listen to the waves, a sound that has soothed me ever since childhood. I have a Christmas CD playing in the background, and just finished your wonderful blog (such a funny word, don’t you think?). Fun reading, cool Christmas ideas, comforting thoughts, wonderful photos and drawings–can’t ask for a whole lot more! When I get home on Sunday, my doggie will jump all over me, my hubby and last child at home will greet me with smiles (and–I hope–a tree!), and I’ll smile right back at them, giving them lotsa hugs while I cuddle with the pooch. I’ll open Willard tomorrow, and hope to try out a cookie recipe or two; Hubby Frank is a major cookie person, so he’ll be thrilled.

    Thank you Susan, for bringing grace and beauty to the world, sprinkled with dollops of exuberance and humor for good measure.

    As the rest of our grown-up kids get ready to come home and gather ’round the old Christmas hearth once more, I’ll wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, and say a prayer for Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men (and Women and Children). And God Bless Us, Every One!
    Sent with Blessings, Faith, and Hope.

    • sbranch says:

      Your retreat sounds so wonderful and perfect for this jingle-jangly time of year. Thank you for the kind thoughts Rosemary, the same to you and yours.

      • Rosemary Monk says:

        Thank you! I got a very strong hint today that I’m not to do “work” on this retreat. I was going to catch up on some electronic work while here, but my laptop suddenly just slowed waaay down, then wouldn’t let me access any of the sites that involved “work” (i.e., pay a bill, order something), finally shutting me out completely of the site. BUT, I could and can access your Blog and the Willard. So I took the hint, stopped trying to multi-task just for this weekend, and only read what was important. Just loved the Cookie Jar! Next week I’m going to try Mother Mary’s Kisses–the recipe looks like even not-great-cook/baker me can handle it, and I can make them with margarine (Frank’s big-time lactose intolerant). If you ever come across a substitute for cream, I would love to hear about it. I’ve found lactose-free milk, sour cream, and cream cheese, and sometimes can find the vegan version of whipped cream in a can or tub, but no straight cream or heavy cream (does Almond cream whip, do you know?), and any cream-of soup recipes are off the table. I will be making your “Faux Cranberry Marmalade” to bring to Frank’s family when we travel to DC right after Christmas for our yearly visit–everyone loves it! I’m not a great baker (even box-type dessert loaves I make have been known to occasionally sink into the loaf pan, not real pretty), but I do make a lovely Holiday Chutney, and purty good Chunky Raisin/Blueberry Applesauce, so I will be cooking the things I can make, along with your Kisses, for my friends and family. In the meantime, I hope all the other Girlfriends will bake up a storm from Willard’s Cookie Jar! Lotsa Love,

        • Rosemary Monk says:

          Oops–I meant Mother Mary’s Snowballs! Ah, the joys of Senior Moments… I’ll make sure the name is right when asked. Happy Holiday Moments and Memories to all.

        • sbranch says:

          I haven’t had occasion to look for it, so no, not really sure if there even is a substitute for cream. I would go to my health food store. I just looked it up and got this ~ hope it helps!

          Cream Substitutes

          There are a few alternatives to heavy cream, light cream, or half-and-half that have similar mouth-feel and thickness to the real thing.

          Coconut cream makes a good swap for half-and-half when you blend it with half soy milk. Another option: Create your own light cream by mixing 3/4 cup of a plain milk substitute with 1/4 cup of canola oil.
          Coconut milk can replace evaporated milk or heavy cream in soups and stews. You can also make your own heavy cream with 1/2 cup plain milk substitute and 1/2 cup canola oil.
          Dairy and lactose free half-and-half substitutes work well in many recipes.

  7. Marianna says:

    Wonderful! Thank you and a Merry Christmas to you!

  8. Aly says:

    Hi Susan!
    My friend purchased your book for me @ Bunch of Grapes. Thank you for the message! 😉 I love all of your books and I can’t wait for “Isle of Dreams.” I’m 39, but an “old soul at heart.” I, too, love to bake, paint, create and my love for the sea and New England is indescribable. I feel so lucky to live in MA.;) I’ve been a fan of yours for so long and I think I sent my friends into mini heart attack mode when we had our girl’s weekend at my friend’s cottage, which is down the street from you. I had no idea! We came to the end of the street, on our way to The Black Dog for some much needed yumminess and I yelled, “OH MY GOD! THAT’S SUSAN’S HOUSE!” They all burst into laughter, screamed and I think my friend almost drove off the road. So…I had to tell your story to them and they are wondering if we’re related. Ha! For the rest of the weekend, with our many travels around the island here and there, in and out of shops, yells and laughter of, “Hey, Aly! It’s Susan!” or “Aly, where’s Susan’s house!?” “Are we going to Susan’s house for dinner?” Many a times we were waiting at that stop sign to take a left with your house staring at me, I wondered out loud and said I wonder what’s cooking and baking?What smells are wafting in the air? Can I just go snuggle up on her couch with my slippers and have her tell me all about painting, England, Vineyard life, and Beatrix Potter’s cottage? But, then the shout of one girlfriend from the back of the car would say, “Aly, you sound like a stalker!” and laughter would pour out of the girlfriend’s mouths and then mine. “I’m an old soul, girlfriends.” They hugged me and said, “We know. That’s why we love you.” Thank you for being you. Perhaps your #1 fan. LOL! 😉 Aly

  9. Lydia says:

    Dear Susan,

    You have sprinkled your special Christmas joy throughout my home for years. From the “Recipe for a Happy Christmas” print that sits atop my TV cabinet, to your annual Christmas ornaments hanging on my tree, to your Christmas books on my coffee table….each adds a special touch and makes it feel like home. Thank you so much!

    I do have a question for you. I love all the wonderful quotes you use in your books and blog posts. How do you remember them? Do you have a journal that you write them in as you find them? I’m a words girl, so I love quotes! 🙂 Merriest Christmas to you, dear Susan!

  10. Lynn S says:

    Merry Christmas to you Susan! I have my Christmas book pulled out to curl up with by the fire! I love, love, love the cookie tray. Is this something you designed? Its so you….Can’t find something like it in searching. Have a wonderful December!

  11. Laurie Snider says:

    I Love the way you weave your subtle message of hope, love and kindness into your blog. You are right our troubled world needs this now more than ever! It is the only way we can heal. Faith not fear. Faith that the world is still full of mostly good people! You are a wonderful example of how this truly works!

  12. Hello Dearies,

    Sending love and joy- I do think it’s what the world needs now more than ever. I keep playing that ’70s Coke commercial with the song “What the world needs now is Love” in my head. Love conquers fear and just about everything else and most of the ugliness in the world is due to lack of it. So I’m trying to be love everyday. I close my eyes and envision myself as a beam of pure love to and from the Universe for five minutes every night before I sleep. It helps!!!
    And even though it’s been a really rough year with lots of heartache- I know that love is the balm that heals.
    Oh- love and cookies too! I made Mary’s Mother’s Snowballs and substituted pecans for the walnuts and a Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kiss for the chocolate one. I took them to my book club Christmas party- everyone raved- they were so good! I’m going to a cookie exchange tomorrow and am going to try them with almonds and Cherry Cordial Kisses next. Thanks for the cookie jar every year- it makes the season more joyous!
    I’ve listened to a Burl Ives Christmas album all the way through this week and gosh it helped. His voice reminds me of days in my Gran’s warm kitchen when I was a child. Love, Love, Love!
    Hope you have a warm, wonderful, joyous and bright Christmas!
    You are a light in my life!

  13. Janet Robertson says:

    I want to wish you and Joe a Very Merry Christmas. I hope you realize how much “Joy” that your products and your blog bring to everyone. I have to tell you about my Great Christmas find. I was shopping in a very small antique shop here in Michigan and I came across a Benjamin Bunny Royal Dalton figure from 1948. I got it for $1.50. Merry Christmas too me.!!
    Wishing you all the Joy and Happiness you can hold for this upcoming Holiday season and A Blessed New Year. Janet

  14. Merry Christmas, Susan!
    Thanks for all your goodness and reminders to savor the season and enjoy its beauty!
    I took your suggestion to “be a decoration” to heart yesterday during my regular weekly volunteer stint at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I wore my glittery red sweater and Christmas green turtleneck. And I topped it off with coordinating green reindeer antlers trimmed with red bows. Brought a pair for my pal Ginny, who volunteers with me, to wear, too. Our festive get-ups (she was in red, too) made people smile and feel happy when they walked in the store all afternoon. And we were the hit of the holiday party, held after the store closed, since we kept our antlers on for that, too. So fun and such a simple thing to spread joy and cheer! And that’s what you do, too.
    Hope your holidays are perfect and your New Year, with all its exciting prospects, joyous and fulfilling!
    Nancye T., Wells, Maine

  15. Barbara Weaver says:

    Ahhh….Great talk in little nooks, soft colors, rows of books…. Sounds so wonderful.
    I did some baking today and that made me think of you and Willard’s cookie jar. Pumpkin bread, Rosemary sea salt bread, and a 1960s era recipe called Hello Dollies or Magic Cookie Bars. Do you remember those? My mother loved to make them. I’ll freeze the breads for Christmas consumption and package the cookies for later. Next, I’ll make your grandmother’s Christmas nut cookies, but that’s for another day! Love the holidays and reading your blogs. Peace!

  16. Barbara Weaver says:

    Great talk in little nooks, soft colors, and rows of books….fabulous!
    I’ve been baking for Christmas and feeling content while doing it.
    Overhead thy stars, O God.
    Love Florence Bone’s poem.
    Peace! And Happy Christmas.

  17. Erica C says:

    May God bless you and keep you and give you peace. Thank you for bringing beauty to our world, Susan! Merry Christmas.

  18. Merci says:

    Our dear Susan,
    Wishing you and Joe a beautiful and blessed Christmas. A New Year filled with all your wishes come true. Thank you for all the joy you bring me and I’m sure all of the girlfriends, what would we do without you; you’re such a wonderful person to have in our lives!

  19. Peggy Cooper, Pueblo, CO says:

    Almost thought I’d be writing to you with a sad story tonight because Miss Katniss Everdeen was missing all day. I was hoping she was caught in someone’s garage, but Bob thought the worst must have happened. I’m usually the optimist, but I have to admit I thought the worst also since she’s never out for more than a couple of hours during the day. But this evening she showed back up at the door, so I think my garage theory may have been correct. Phew! Of course Sadie Jane has been chasing her and there’s been lots of hissing since she showed back up, so I’m so grateful to have her back, even though I know she’ll be scratching at the blinds at 4 a.m. to go back outside. Now Susan, I know that’s your usual waking hour, but it’s not mine. But after missing her today, I’ll probably tolerate it a little better tomorrow.

    Another wonderful post, with messages of good cheer. There’s so much negativity out there right now, so I’m glad to read your post of love and kindness for all our fellow man (and woman).

  20. Kathie says:

    All morning, today, making banana and cranberry breads. The freezer is bursting with little frosty loaves ready to go to new homes….the house is so warm from the oven, we have to open the doors…..and it’s raining outside. The whole neighborhood can smell the Christmas smells….. my favorite time. Thank you for the thoughts and book marks and recipes. I always make orange rind candy, now, thanks to your easy recipe. All my sewing friends expect it! Merry Christmas you two. Hope your holidays are happy….and holy…..and with holly…..

  21. Mary Lou says:

    That was the most beautiful and touching Christmas card I’ve received so far. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  22. Rebecca from Riverbank says:

    Susan, thank you so much for being a beautiful blessing in this world, at Christmas and all year ’round!

    I have always loved the photos of the lights on your porch, and I was wondering: are there 2 strands of lights, one small & white and the other large & coloured, or is it a single string? I just _love_ them.

    Merry Christmas to Martha’s Vineyard from coastal Connecticut –

    • sbranch says:

      You have a good eye . . . it’s two, one small and one large . . . looks good to use different sized and shaped lights together ~ we have three kinds on the tree.

  23. Janet Conn says:

    Oh Susan, I always thought we are kindred spirits. I laughed out loud when I read that you and Joe drove around the block to look at the lights on your own house. I can’t even tell you how many times we have done that over the years. I will also walk to the end of our driveway just to stand and look at our house in lights. It gives me such joy. Thank you so much for all the joy you have brought to all of us this year and all the other years. I wish you and Joe a joyous Christmas and the happiest of New Year’s. I wish all of us Peace on Earth. Merry Christmas! : )

  24. Patti from California says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! I feel like we are kindred spirits when you speak of singing the same song in Sunday School that I did as a child… you & your blog are so dear to me. Can’t wait for your book to come out next year and hear all about your romance with Joe! You’ve shared some of it, but I want to hear it ALL!! My husband, Paul, and I met you both in SLO and hope to see you again when you come to San Francisco on your book tour. Blessings & love to you both during this enchanting Christmas season.

  25. Barb from Ohio says:

    I just love your blog entry this time, so full of good things about Christmas that we sometimes forget. The part about making paper snowflakes reminded me of several years ago when my daughter was still a teen(or thereabouts). She stayed up one night during Christmas school break and I thought she was watching a movie. The next morning when I came downstairs, I found dozens of paper snowflakes hanging on sewing thread from the living room ceiling. She’d stayed up late to make them and surprise me in the morning. Looked great with the other decorations and Christmas Tree! Needless to say we both made a few more to hang.
    We haven’t had any snow yet here either, today is supposed to be around 70 degrees, so odd for December. I suppose we’ll get hit with snow in January, but would be nice to have a little for Christmas that’s less than two weeks away. Anyway, hope you and Joe and kitties have a wonderful Christmas!

  26. Southern CA living in SD says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Been reading your latest posts and just wanted to comment on the lovely glow in all your rooms! Must be all the love in your home!
    Love you,

  27. Joleen Standley says:

    and a good year to come.
    Thank you for all the fun you give us.

  28. Jan Jasper says:

    Susan I love your snowy pictures! In my small historic town of Liberty, MO, it’s a rainy day as our Kansas City Chiefs are battling for a Wild Card win against the San Diego Chargers. We have gotten so much rain, I’m sure the field looks more like Arrowhead SWAMP!
    Merry Christmas, Susan!

  29. Beth Bruno says:

    Thanks, as always, for the grace you bestow on the world through your gentle way of living. It is always a comfort – especially right now. May your home be filled with friends, family, joy and peace this holiday season!

  30. Carrie in Medina says:

    Thank you for this wonderful, sweet, sugar sprinkled post! Charming, charming, charming – as always! Merry Christmas!!

  31. Naomi Jones says:

    Have you seen The Great British Baking Show? It airs on PBS but I watched last night on Netflix (while ironing shirts). It is so good and I thought of you when I saw it.

  32. Mary in Phoenix says:

    We’re feeling a big chill here in AZ right now! The fire is crackling and it puts us in the mood for Christmas 🙂 High today was 55 degrees (I know … cold is relative, but that is COLD here) … and it’s 56 on Martha’s Vineyard. Haha. FYI … It’s 44 degrees in Cottonwood. Betcha Blog Daddy has snow 🙂 Fun to see all the cacti wearing Santa hats … for decoration and freeze covering. Stay warm everyone ♥ xoxo “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness” ~Steinbeck

  33. barbara lassiter says:

    Dance, then, wherever you may be;
    I am the Lord of the dance, said he.
    And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
    And I’ll lead you all in the dance said He.
    ….Lord of the Dance….
    This is one of my favorite songs/hymns and it kept popping into my head as I read your lovely blog. Thanks for all your wonderful inspiration and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

  34. Janice says:

    Susan I just love you.. It’s alway warm and cozy here at your place. I have been sick with a icky ole cold but a hum dinger of one.. Got it from my two grandchildren, two busy little boys… Thanks for my Willard they are such a nice surprise to find in my email. It made my long day feel better. I’m ready for bed and we’ve had rain here in San Francisco… I hope one day you’d come out this way. I would so love to meet you in person. I believe you to be such a kindred spirit I now own a Peter Rabbit figure like yours and everytime I see him in my kitchen though not in the window I think of you. Looking forward to my next hopefully Jemima puddle duck I happen to love ducks have a kitch full.. Love your tree I like the lights too.. I lobe think I love you most because you stay on the real side to many people forget who they are or as they say where they came from. I think it the best that you read are comments and really care thank you for that. Well it’s off to bed thank for yet another wonderful post have a great new week.. With love Janice in San Francisco..

  35. MaryO1230 says:

    What a delight this blog is, taking me away from holiday stress and reminding me of the really, really important things!

    Happiest of holidays to you and yours and a very meow-y Christmas from my kitties to your kitties (Jack and Girl Kitty are too adorable!)

    And a question. I.Must.Have.Your.Cookie.Plate. as shown in your 12-9 blog. I’ve looked in vain in E-bay. Perhaps you’ll re-issue it in your store? Did I miss it?

    Luv from San Pedro, CA

    • sbranch says:

      It was made by a large company (Michael and CO) many years back ~ we are too small to be able to do something like this ourselves. Most manufacturers require minimum orders in the thousands . . . very expensive investment unless you have thousands who want one. Keep watching, sooner or later I’m sure it will show up. I love my little plate too much, else I would give it to you!

  36. Rachel Scott says:

    Susan…..LOVING your Christmas posts…all sparkly and festive and filled with love. And, of course, greedy me, is hoping for another before the New Year…ha! I must tell you that my absolutely favorite video is the one with you “dancing the camera” around the kitchen to It’s a Marshmallow World!!! It just puts me in the best mood.
    I have some questions about your recipe for Croquembouche, p. 96, Christmas from Heart of the Home. I’m thinking of making this for Christmas Eve for a family dinner. Since is has to be transported (I know, but I’ve done sillier, more risky things with food), I’m thinking about covering a styrofoam cone with parchment paper on which to build it. For me to fit your recipe to my construction, I need to know the following: 1. Is yours hallow or solid with puffs? 2. What is the approximate diameter of the base, and the height? 3. How large are your puffs when baked? 4. Do you think your caramel glue recipe will make spun sugar? (I’m getting exceedingly ambitious here!! Ha!!) I know not to even consider this if it’s humid that day. If this whole creation is successful, I’ll send you photos….hey, I’ll send everyone I know photos!!
    May you, Joe, and your families, including your 2 furry children have a super Christmas and wonderful New Year.
    Love, Rachel

    • sbranch says:

      Okay, here we go. It’s not hard to transport, that glue works really well! It’s very sticky. Mine is hollow, just a ring of puffs at the bottom, building up from there. I think my puffs are maybe a bit more than 2 inches… not much more than that. I think you would decide the diameter of the base and the height of the pyramid on how many puffs you are making total. Depending on how many you want to serve. And the size of the dish or platter you want to serve it in or on. Yes, the glue will make spun sugar. If anyone can do this thing, its YOU dear Rachel, you are SO creative, I’m sure it will be BEAUTIFUL!! It’s easier than it looks but the oohs and aaahs make any trouble for it totally worthwhile! Have fun! Love you! xoxo

      • Rachel Scott says:

        Dearest Susan….you are a real sweetheart and such a good girlfriend. Thank you for all the help with this recipe….maybe you should make a video like Julia and Martha…..a lot of work for you, but so much fun for us. I doubly appreciate the time you took to answer my questions….knowing that you are on a dead line to get MVIOD ready for the printer.
        Just one more thing…a suggestion for a post. I would adore seeing one page of the new book created from start to finish….from blank watercolor page to full color and photos. That would just be THE BEST, but only if you have the time and want to give up your secrets…ha! I would be absolutely inthralled to know how you decide to put what where, decide on the what to draw and when to include photographs, and all “the little bits” that make your work your own.
        Love, Rachel

        • sbranch says:

          I don’t have time right now, just working to meet the deadline, but I think it’s a great idea and someday maybe I will do that very thing! I tell SO MUCH about how I made my first book in this next one, pretty much A to Z — I think you’ll find it interesting. xoxo

  37. Pat W. says:

    Thank you for all of your positive, uplifting thoughts & photos….it brightens my days when I visit your blog. I appreciate you taking the time to include us in your life. Merry, Merry Christmas Susan to you & Joe; enjoy the cookies .. yummy.

  38. Merriment, sparkle, and shine! Such a lovely post! And I am absolutely crazy about the illustration from American Magazine! Have a most happily abundant and abundantly happy day, dear Susan.

  39. Cathee says:

    Hi Susan…
    This was so uplifting and colorful as always. It looks so delightful and beautiful and leaves me feeling more in the Christmas spirit! Wish I was there in your cozy home helping you eat those delicious cookie treats by a warm crackling fire. Ahhhh…Now back to reality-baking Eggnog Cookies of my own and working on my 125 Christmas cards! Thanks for the wonderful daydream…Cheerio!

  40. Karen Seward says:

    Merry Christmas Susan & Joe and Kitties, Thank you for your beautiful Blog…

  41. Pat Johnson says:

    Ah….the season of giving and receiving…..the season of joy and love….the season of children filled with excitement….and should it be any other way? I think not. Sophie (3 yr old grandgirl) and I put up a little tree today – by the fireplace – with little lights and little decorations. She commented on the size of the tree – “Grandma, it is very little!” My answer: Oh, Sophie, it reminds me of you!! She smiled and gave me a hug. And that is what Christmas is all about. It is just about 23 degrees in Paso Robles tonight!! What is with that?? I stuck my head out the door and took a deep breath……. wow….. COLD! What a treat…… Wishing you and Joe and the kitties a fabulous holiday. The treasures you have shared over this year have been my gift from you. My gift to you is hugs and love from another one of your fabulous BFF’s!! Merry, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year………thank you for sharing.

  42. Wendy Louise says:

    Thank-you darling one, for always being here! Bright and Merry and full of LOVE.

  43. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Dear Sue, so many times I’m happily sitting here in tears, loving reading your blogs…you and your followers touch my heart & my soul – stuff from squishy kitties to Angie’s Christmas party outfit!!! Love your musica choices too!! 100 yr old Mom is now in a nursing facility, amazing folks & yesterday a visiting musician played the violin to recorded Christmas music & folks I’d never heard speak, sang to the music & gently swayed in their wheelchairs to Jingle Bells. Sweet staff (earthly angels) smiling & helping..really a joyful time! Christmas magic is everywhere & I feel so blessed! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! XOXO

  44. Karen says:

    We just recently moved to a new home (well, new to us) and are still trying to settle in; so, no Christmas decorations for us this year. Thank you for sharing your lovely decorations along with some furry Christmas spirit (sitting there, he looks like he is directing the placement of the tree)! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and many blessings in the coming year!

  45. Debbie Schruers says:

    You have brightened my life with your posts. Four months after my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, I am facing back surgery on December 30th. I look forward to anything you send. My son has given me your books, A Fine Romance and The Fairy Tale Girl. I have devoured them.
    You are a blessing to so many people. Bless you and Joe.
    Merry Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Debbie. Hoping that 2016 will begin a better time for you and your family. Too much for one little year! xoxo All my best.

  46. Virginia says:

    I read and enjoyed your post when it first appeared but re-read it just now after a series of too-hectic days. Things seem to get out of control despite the best intentions…. Your post made me feel calm and peaceful and renewed the magic of Christmas at home.

    Have you ever seen the PBS special of Rick Steves’ European Christmas? I got the dvd and watch it every year. He shows Christmas in different families in England, France, and more, wonderful. Christmas at home. Merry Christmas to you and Joe and thank you for all the gifts you share with your girlfriends.

  47. nellie says:

    Oh, dear! I am really late commenting on this post! Trying to be too busy being “Santa’s little elf!” Seem to be spinning my wheels with that one!

    Love all your Christmas preparations and ideas! Putting some of them to use around here!

    Just one week, and the day will be here! Merry Christmas!

    xo Nellie

  48. Sharon in So. Calif. says:

    Dear Susan, Just had to stop by in case you don’t have another post before Christmas to wish you & Joe and Blog Daddy and all your loved ones a Very Merry Christmas and the happiest New Year ever! Cannot believe we are in the last days of 2015, where does the time go? I know your calendar is getting very full for 2016, can’t wait for all the excitement. My Fairy Tale Girl shipped and is on it’s way…I hope I can hold out reading it til Christmas! Then to order Isle of Dreams (for my birthday in Jan. perhaps)?? I am off to make your Annie Hall’s butter cookies now. My granddaughter is due here in about an hour, I have the dough in the fridge now so we can “go at it” with the rolling, cutting and SPRINKLING! Merry Christmas again and to all the wonderful Girlfriends as well. xoxo P.S. Please give a Christmas Kiss to Girl and Jack from Me ♥

  49. Jennie Lou says:

    Dear Friend, whenever I need a little joy in my busy day, I dial up your blog just to hear the cheery chirping bird that flies across your title page. My husband hears the sound and always says something funny or encouraging or comes and makes me a cuppa tea and sets it on my table, never failing to give my shoulders a squeeze and to plant a little kiss on my forehead. (I have also relied on your cheerful chirper to test the speakers on the computer, so helpful!) We also love the musica – what fun it must be pouring through all the songs available on line to pick just the one that will make us want to cozy down and enjoy another visit with the girlfriends all over the world! Bless you and may you always have some secret delight to keep your heart alight with JOY.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Jennie Lou! Also, your husband sounds wonderful! Tell him I chirped a special hello to him!

  50. Mary says:

    I just love all your blogs and look forward to receiving them in my email. I had almost 2000 emails and did a search for a Susan Branch email and deleted the rest! ahhh feels so good. Can’t wait for your book to arrive “snail” mail. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year too.

  51. Martha says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan – and thank you for all of the beauty that you bring to the world!!
    Martha from CT

  52. Susan Webb says:

    Thanks Susan, for the Spiced Pecans recipe. I’ve made this for 3 or 4 years every Christmas. Now we have people who wait for spiced pecans. At first I gave them out in quart canning jars. Now I try to use pint sized, to give them to more people. They are a BIG hit. I just finished 2 lbs of pecansin another double batch. Hope we get to enjoy some too this Christmas! LOL Merry Christmas! I also give them a New Moons bookmark or Santa or Frosty. You create Christmas habits for people and I thank you.

  53. Jane Alexander says:

    Susan, simply put, you make the world a better place, by writing this blog. I am so thankful for you, and how you bless so many of us, in the most tender ways, by inviting us to be your friends, and come to your home to visit.God has made you into an amazing lady. And He is willing to do that for all of us who love our homes and families. Thank you for all the amazing ideas you share.

  54. Sheryl from Magalia CA says:

    Dear Susan,
    The “season” is still upon us so I thought I’d still write you a note. This was a wonderful blog post. Thank you. With my family in all different areas and all different situations, we had our “final” celebration here in Magalia yesterday. (December 26) There was a big family dinner and hours of opening of presents. I’ve learned through all my years to be happy with whatever comes my way. There are no demands on anyone to be in one place on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning. This way everyone is relaxed and just happy to be together; no matter what day it is exactly. Happy New Year and a little belated Merry Christmas to you and Joe. P.S. I gave The Fairy Tale Girl to my step sister for her gift. We are starting to read it at the same time. It is fun to share it between us. Take care. Hugs and Love…Sheryl

    • sbranch says:

      Your Christmas sounds wonderful! I totally agree with you . . . and now here comes New Year’s with all the wishes for the coming year. Wishing you the best Sheryl!

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