SURVIVED 2018, Hello-Whatever-Comes-Next ~ 2019!

WE DID IT! The luv-lee days of 2018 have come and gone, and we survived! And now? Now, MUSICA! Off to 1928, Together! And I promised you a Christmas in this old house of creativity! So here we go!

It was Christmas number 168 for this old house. You can hear the echoes of Christmas past ~ time for us to add another layer. Blessed to be

And then, for frosting on the Happy Cake, we had a house full of darling English People! Saying things like clingfilm, vile, hang-on-there, jolly, and ghastly, with their cute little English accents. All my favorite words! That’s my darling friend Rachel (in the middle), her mum, Diana, and her husband Paul … they came over the sea to help us celebrate.

Here we are, on Christmas morning, opening our presents in front of the fire . . . books, shortbread in red English-phone-booth tin, scarves, and socks! ‘Twas Merry Merry! We crossed hands and snapped our tiny snappers! See them, Joe’s got one, everyone has one.

A happy mess when it was over!!! Cups overflowing!

Jack watched over it all! The adult in the room!

We’d been looking forward to having them with us since we said “so-long” to them in England last June . . . We knew we didn’t have to say good bye, because they’d be coming for Christmas . . . that made leaving England so much easier! Which it never really is!

So, I wanted to have everything ready when they got here so all we had to do was cook, eat and play! Adoring being home for Christmas. Nesting like crazy.

Made my grandma’s frosted Molassas Cookies, the cookies she boxed up and sent to us every year. And since the kitchen table was covered in wrapping paper, I discovered that an ironing board is not just for drying bread (for Thanksgiving turkey dressing), or even ironing! It can be like a moveable counter ~ so lightweight, and perfect for cookie-cooling duty!  Made croutons and spiced Pecans and apple crisp, and bread pudding too, which we fried in butter for breakfast.

I also printed out a few memories of my long sweet friendship with Rachel and her darling family ~ to put on the fridge, like a little open photo album. Reminding us . . .

And Joe was busy too, making luv-lee wreaths and garlands with spicy pine, holly, and boxwood from our garden.

🎶Wherever we go, whatever we do, we’re gonna go through it together . . . 🎵

A man and his barn . . .

A woman and her cups. I got the dishes washed . . . we were having sixteen for Christmas dinner, so I prepared accordingly, sorted napkins, washed glasses,polished silverware.

. . . Wrapped presents . . .

And hung stockings by chimney with care . . .

Washed the candles sticks and gave them new candles . . .

And finally, all the way from England, after a one-night glitch where a storm prevented them from getting over on the ferry, they arrived! I put Ray and Paul, in the front bedroom, and Ray’s mom, Diana had the Peter Rabbit Room. And basically, in a nutshell, we poured the wine and began to eat! 

And to make up for it, we walked out to the pond . . .

then went to lunch in Oak Bluffs. Very balanced. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see Ray again. I’m going to tell the whole impossible story about how we became friends in my new book, in Enchanted!

We all climbed into the Fine Romance van and went on an Island tour, up to Menemsha (the little fishing village you saw in Jaws), where we stopped at a food truck to pick up little paper bags of hot French fries . . .

. . . then to Alley’s General Store for Coffee, then to the Red Barn Art Gallery for culture. There was also Christmas shopping in Edgartown, and two Christmas parties, down the street to Lowely’s one night, then over the lawn to Martha’s the next.

Walking out back to Martha’s under the full moon. Looked like this . . .

Felt like this.

We also managed to squeeze in a couple of old movies . . . after dinner one night we rushed to our chairs for a wonderful evening of Love Actually.

So much fun! 🎉

Before they came, Joe made a new leaf for the table so we could fit all our Christmas dinner guests at one table. But when he put it in, the table was so long, it sagged in the middle. So the two “engineers” as they called themselves, spent Christmas Eve in table fortification . . . you can see them in process here. It was just the beginning. They glued all the wobbly chairs too! Mas MUSICA?

While they did that, we watched The Bishop’s Wife. There we were, minding our own business, mooshed into the sofa, quiet, teary-eyed, watching lovely old black-and -white movie, with Cary Grant, the ice-skating angel, about Christmas and miracles. Joe and Paul were going in and out to the barn for tools and other manly pursuits, we ignored them, made silent eye-roll-girl-nod at the Empire State Building they were constructing under the dining table.  Then Paul walks into our teary silence, and says, “Look at you, nest of . . . ”  he’s thinking what to call us, I’m thinking, “bluebirds?” then he finishes, “vipers.” Ha! Vipers? And this photo above was our reaction, us being vipers! Speaking for the least viper-like group of people I know! So funny. Only Paul. This is one of the many things I love about English people, command of language. 🇬🇧

Then Paul, expert ironer, ironed the tablecloth . . . it had a very thick piece of flannel under it, so what better place to iron than on the table!

This is Paul, the last time he was here, doing his ironing in the pantry!

Paul set the table  . . . while Joe put the roast in the oven . . . Our two guys love Christmas as much as we do!

Ray and I feel SO LUCKY that our guys liked each other so much! Makes for very nice hanging-out! 💞

I did the centerpiece, then Paul took over!

We set up a side table for the food (and lookout post for Jack) . . . Rachel brought presents for EVERYONE at the table! Over the years our friends have gotten to know them . . .

Ray put a gift on every chair! So thoughtful. She wrapped sixteen gifts! It was such a fun way to begin the dinner!

W h a t e v e r ,  said Jack. Only interesting thing about gifts, as far as he’s concerned, is the ribbon. He’d rather eat flowers. Not allowed either. 💞

Years back, one of our girlfriends made me the MOST charming set of place cards as a gift. They escaped their original box, so I don’t remember who sent them to me, but this was the year I pulled them out. So adorable, all different, handmade, glittered and painted, and there were exactly sixteen! (Hope whoever made them is seeing them ~ I loved them so much!)

Joe made pink and juicy roast beef with delicious gravy and horseradish sauce and salmon too. I made cream-cheese mashed-potatoes and a Pumpkin Cheesecake. Ray made roasted root vegetables and cauliflower in cheese sauce (asking for recipe, so good, will share!). Paul cut little crosses in the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts, steamed and served drizzled with balsamic syrup. Lowely brought a beautiful spinach salad scattered with pomegranate seeds, another friend brought creamed onions . . . Ray also made her famous Brownies. A Christmas feast!

And here we go! Anna and Peggy went first!

It was Diana’s first trip to the Island. Isn’t she cute? Everyone loved her! Joe put light-necklaces on the chairs . . . I said, “Good Job, Joe!”💞

Paul lit a fire, and manned the bar, poured the wine, Joe opened oysters . . .

And when everything was ready and the candles were lit, off went the lights . . .

We put my camera on a tripod to take our official Christmas photo. Beloved faces, names of friends you’ve heard me mention, Martha and Gerry, the Schwiers, Lowely and John, their children, nieces, and brothers, our luv-lee English People, and at the far end, me and Joe …

Feeling  grateful that somehow out of this entire world, we had found each other. We’d all come a long way to do it!

I had to detach myself for a moment, pull back as interested bystander, to see the flickering candles, the trees and twinkling lights, the smiles, how pretty it was, the sounds of laugher, of cutlery on china, to realize once again, how lucky we are, and how fleeting the moments. Another Christmas. Maybe our best ever.  After dinner Martha played the ukulele and we all sang Christmas carols in only tree and fire-light.

Something I’ve heard from many, it was our best ever! And then, it was time for goodbye. 😩  I moped around for days. Took naps. Did laundry.

Got out my calendar and moved Birthdays and Anniversaries from 2018 to 2019.

Washed the tablecloth and Christmas linens and dried them outside. Deep sighs of missing our friends. No one calling me a viper. No one asking for clingfilm. 😪

Walking made it better  . . .

So I decided to visit iPhoto and remind myself about 2018. The only time I’ve ever gone to a book signing by ship! Here we are docked right downtown Charleston, South Carolina . . . walking back to ship after saying hello to Girlfriends . . . just before Anchors Aweigh!

I was reminded about dreams come true, how we re-visited Hill Top, the precious cottage Beatrix Potter left for the world to enjoy.

We got to walk and walk and walk through the beautiful English Countryside. And the Wales Countryside, and the Irish Countryside. Heavenly.

Was this only last May?

The morning I was the only one up walking through a perfect English Village ~ Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds, where a river runs through it.

And then home again . . . the moon followed us all the way across the sea.

Our ship sneaking into town on little cat feet . . . writing in my diary that London was 1,500 years old when New York was founded. 

Heart swelling with pride . . . curious as if I’d never seen it before. What a gift!

 Home, to delight in the familiar.

The familiar.

Decorations away, table back to normal size. Lights off the house, ornaments wrapped and back to the attic.

Making seedy toast, because I like crunch. I bought all different seeds in small amounts in the bulk section of our market . . . and mixed them together in a jar . . . I chose seeds from THIS LIST … read about their health benefits!

I sprinkle them on my buttered toast for extra vitamins and crunch! They’re good on anything, on fish, casseroles, rice, roasted veggies.

Standing at the kitchen sink, eating my toast, watching the woodpeckers at the feeders. Wondering where the snow is!

We’ve seen none of this yet, we miss it! This is New England and snow is a requirement!  (Knock on wood, be careful what you wish for!)

Beginning again. It’s 2019. Stuff to do!!! I have a book to write! I get to spend the winter dipping my brush into watercolors, painting borders and lambs, scratching my pen across paper, and choosing the best photos to tell my story. New Calendars for 2020 are due soon. I’m laying the first one out on the back of my sofa (above) . . . January, February, March . . .

I’m designing a photo wall-calendar for 2020 … in addition to my normal painted wall calendar. It’s called A Year in the English Countryside. Choosing the photos has been so much fun ~ I’ve never done a photo calendar before! Very exciting.

HAPPY NEW YEAR dear ones . . . and, “Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.” 💞 Belva Davis

And last of all . . . Our New Year’s Eve … we walked over to Lowely’s house and spent it with a small group of our oldest and dearest. Lowely made a delicious dinner, I made an angel food cake, we played Pictionary (hideous game, I chose “Bambi” … no one understood my drawing of a fawn. Next year I make the categories!) So before you watch this video, turn down the sound, save your ears . . . we sing! 😘  Note rings around candles, so everyone’s New Year wishes come true.


There’s no place like home… 💞 P.S. I’m going to design us a new cup. What should be on it??? xoxoxo

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552 Responses to SURVIVED 2018, Hello-Whatever-Comes-Next ~ 2019!

  1. Ah Susan! Thank you for the smile you bring to my heart. Happy New Year to you and Joe and Jack and all your loved ones.

  2. julia walker says:

    How beautiful Susan and Joe! My Christmas card to you came back, so I’m resending with your full address. Julia in Cincy

  3. kat scanlan says:

    Brought tears to my eyes, I must say. What a lovely holiday you had with your friends. I have always been fascinated by the name of your friend Lowely – what a lovey name! Is it possible to tell us its origin? (if it’s okay with her) I would love to know. Thanks for sharing your beautiful friendships with us.

    • sbranch says:

      Her family name is Lowell … Her real name is Anna, but so is her mom’s, so she called her daughter Lowely!

  4. Nicole Dubé says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It was very exciting to come home from work and see a new blog post! So unexpected! You celebrate and honour your friendships in such special ways, that it’s no wonder you have so many friends around the world! How lucky you and Rachel are to have found each other! It would be wonderful to have a cup that celebrates friendship! Friends made in person, via snail mail as pen pals, or even Twitter friendships! Although I am sure whatever you create will be spectacular! Lots of love and best wishes for 2019! 😘❤️

  5. Kathy Phenix says:

    Another wonderful blog. And it was truly full of wonder. Happy New Year to you, Susan, Joe, and especially little Jack. Always a smiling, purring face.
    Love that you sit down and transfer birthdates and anniversaries to your new calendar. I always do the same. Also, I think we share some similar silverware. Looked like you have some of the Buttercup pattern by Gorham which my Grandmother had and gave to me. I cherish that silver. Pieces are inscribed with the date of 1907.
    You managed to make Christmas a celebration right into the new year. So looking forward to your new book and cup. Cheers.

  6. Cheryl Hutchinson says:

    Susan, I notice in the photo of you and your company at the Red Barn Art Store (getting some culture!) that you wear a rosette on your shoulder. What a great idea! I’ve had one in my scarf drawer for years, not wearing it on my neck like the original fashion was back in the 80’s – and now I know what to do with it! It will dress up a turtleneck. 🙂

    As for a design for a new cup, how about one that’s not tied to a particular season or holiday? A year-round one!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful creativity. It’s uplifting.

  7. Karen Williams says:

    Oh Dear Susan…..Fabulous Christmassy blog and a Happy New Year to you, Joe, Jack and all the Girlfriends! Thank you for a beautiful set of pictures, so heartwarming, such fun to see Ray, Paul and Ray’s lovely Mum staying with you…lucky them I say!

    Loved the candles, the sparkles, the necklace lights, the food and absolutely everything!
    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd!
    Happy New Year to you all!
    Karen Williams x x x
    U.K. 🇬🇧

  8. Jane says:

    Happy painting in this new year and thank you for sharing the warmth of your Christmas! For the new cup, I would suggest examining all those curtains you wrote so enthusiastically about. From your descriptions of how they took your attention, there must be inspiration there. Wishing you all the best in this new year, Jane

  9. Nancy says:


  10. Karen says:

    What a wonderful Christmas you had!! Reading it made me feel all warm and cozy! I have an idea for a cup. How about a cow out in the pasture with wonderful flowers and clover. Maybe even a barn! Enjoy the New Year May all your dreams come true and keep all your blessings close for health and happiness are very near. I agree with you also about snow ⛄️ it’s much needed now,we live in New England after all!

  11. Nettie says:

    You show us over and over that is truly is “A Wonderful World”
    I was just thinking maybe I need to update our home and not have so many of the beloved quilts around that I have either made or collected but now I see that it is still okey to simply create a cosy home with all our favorite things
    Happiest of New Years

  12. Patricia says:

    It was so much fun to read your Christmas/New Year blog! Just like wrapping a cozy robe around me and sitting near a fireplace feeling the soothing warmth. I think you should feature your fireplace on a cup and perhaps some of your Christmas tree—it is so festive and bright!

  13. Linda L in Shoreline says:

    Thanks, Susan, for giving such a great recap of your holidays. It helps to take our mind off of the many stressful aspects of our lives right now. As far as a cup, I definitely think you should make one for quilter/crafters. You would have a lot of customers! Or even a simple all-over design based on your fabric. I am wondering if you would consider making a smaller size – I find that when the cup is too big, things cool off before I am finished. I hope that when your next book comes out that you will consider making it to the Seattle area. We do have a thriving independent book store community here, and we would love to see you in person! Thanks again for your great, uplifting newsletters!

    • sbranch says:

      I have made all four seasons in a smaller size cup . . . in case you’re looking for one! Love Seattle, hope to be back there one day soon! Thank you Linda!

      • Regina Carretta says:

        I agree with Linda – the Seattle area has some cozy spots in our bookstores, and it would be lovely to have you visit….Third Place Books, Edmonds Bookshop, so many small places that are still supported by the community….and the smaller communities like Snohomish, Whidbey Island, Port Townsend,
        Bainbridge Island, all would welcome you with open arms…
        hmmmm… I see that “A Fine Romance” van pulling up as we speak???

        • sbranch says:

          It helps so much when customers of the bookstores ask for me to come …bookstores need to feel sure someone will show up for the signing before they want to commit to having one!

        • Rachel Lucas says:

          Regina & Linda – I just got back from a wonderful visit to Seattle, what a fabulous city and area! I thought it would tickle you to know that Paul & I were recognised TWICE on beautiful Bainbridge Island! I felt like a Hollywood star and my niece and nephews were very impressed. Lots of love for Susan in the Pacific SW that’s for sure! xx

          • sbranch says:

            Ha ha! The Internet + your smile and hair, and + that darling man . . . couldn’t be missed (even before you opened your mouths!)!

  14. Liz Hand says:

    Thanks for the ironing board idea. I’m going to do that next year when I’m baking Christmas cookies and run out of counter space .

    I think a cup with your house on it would be lovely.
    Happy New year from Gardner
    Liz Hand

  15. Peg Ackerman says:

    Sue! What a marvelous post! Thank you for sharing your friends and your celebration with all of us!!! So magical!

    New cup? Why not?!! How about a cup for all seasons? And, for all beverages? Tea, coffee, wine….? There are so many possibilities for cups that can travel the year without restriction!!! Surprise us, girlfriend! We will love it! xo peg

  16. KarenGaudiosi says:

    Oh you can just tell what a great time you had at Christmas! Just reading made me feel all warm and cozy! I have an idea for a cup. How about a pretty little cow out in the pasture filled with flowers and clover. Maybe even a barn. May your New Year be blessed with health and happiness! I also agree that we need ❄️ snow ⛄️ ! We do live in New England after all!

  17. Ailene says:

    Oh how I love ready your posts! When I see I have an email from you, I wait till the end of the day so I can sit down with coffee and take in all the beauty and fun you share. Oh how I wish I were there. You bring love and joy into everyday living. Thank you for sharing your wonderful Christmas and memories with all your friends.

  18. Simone Dextraze says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your most precious Christmas. I enjoyed reading your blog and seeing your pictures. Felt like I was there.
    Our son lives on Martha’s Vineyard. We visited him last October and he brought us to Alley’s General Store. What a find. Actually I found, in the Clearance Bin, a lovely April Cornel tablecloth, so it was a super find.
    Anyway, don’t stop writing and sharing. Your blogs are a mini vacation.

  19. Carol on the farm in Iowa says:

    Glad you had such a wonderful Christmas. I knew Rachel was at your house when I saw your drapes in a photo she posted on Instagram! What fun.
    God Bless you in the New Year♥️

  20. Linda Matera says:

    Lovely Blog as usual.They always seems to calm me–thank you.

    I love your cups.I have 5 of them…I think a quilt cup would be awesome.Especially since i am a quilter…what do you think??

    HappyNew Year my friend…I do feel like we are friends.

  21. Ruth E. Rupp says:

    So happy to read this delightful, wonderful column and vicariously enjoy all the preparation, the fun, and wonderful friends you shared Christmas with. You have created a home we’d all like to come visit – – and never leave. There truly is no place like home! I am sooo looking forward to your new book – – and anything else you feel like creating!! 🙂 You always bring all of us so much joy. Wishing you everything you are hoping for in 2019
    Ruthie (in Minnesota)

  22. Kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful Christmas with us. Love all your cozy traditions. Is your frosted molasses cookie recipe in any of your books? I would love t have the recipe.
    Happy new year. Can’t wait for your new book!

  23. Jane Franks says:

    That was just lovely, Susan! The perfect kind of Christmas! I think we all feel like we are part of the family, too! We’ve seen everyone so often!! Yes, we need snow! Even here! Tiny bit hopeful. They say Snow “showers” on Saturday!! I haven’t been able to part with Christmas yet. It’s grey outside so we kept the snowmen and elves with us. They didn’t want to leave yet. We’re having fun! Actually . . . doing tax prep, so keeping the door closed to my “inner sanctum” to not discourage them! But I come out in the evening and we have fun!! A new cup! Oh, goodie!! Something British would be nice! A big one? (I hope!). Thank you so much for including us and sharing your wonderful celebration. It was just lovely. Jane xo

  24. DeLynn from Michigan says:

    Susan, Looks like you had a lovely Christmas/visit with your friends from England. Thank you for sharing all the little details with us. Please include Jack in your brainstorming ideas for your next cup. Please know that we girlfriends are sending encouragement across the miles to you when you are deep into creating your mega-volume of “Enchantment.” Cannot wait for finished product!

  25. Jane says:

    What to do, darling Susan? I only got the beginning photos! After your French fries and coffee, I could only see a few of the photos. I live all the way in Washington state so maybe they don’t want to travel so far. But I want so badly to see them! Ideas?

  26. Barb Murphy says:

    I can’t say this enough…..thank you for sharing. I love to see your decorations for Christmas and all through the year. Especially the adorable black and white fur baby.
    Happy New Year to you, Joe and Jack.

  27. Karen H. says:

    Oh, sweet Susan! I so enjoyed seeing such lovely holiday photos. You and Joe are beyond lucky to have such wonderful friends. I will include us Girlfriends in that mix! Happy New Year to you, Joe, and Jackie. Many blessings. Xoxo

  28. Jane says:

    I take that back. Now, it’s suddenly working!!!! Oh, what a lovely
    Christmas. I’m going to my bulk food department to get crunchies. Isn’t it fun to be in a new year and start again with a clean slate!?

  29. Carol says:

    Susan, I enjoyed reading about your lovely Christmas. I only wish that I could have been one of your guests. Just to let you know that I always have your calendar each year. Each month is such a wonderful page of pictures. May you and Joe have a Happy 2019.

  30. Joyce C. says:

    Such a delightful holiday with close friends. A true blessing. Thank you for sharing.
    Looking forward to your forthcoming book. Happiest New Year…

  31. Mary says:

    Thank you, dear one, for sharing your delightful Christmas in such glorious detail! 3 days before Christmas I held my dad’s hand as he exhaled his last breath on Earth, rejoicing as I knew the next breath he took was in heaven. But … we’re never ready to say goodbye to our parents, are we? He was 93, peaceful in his own bed at home, and the best man I’ve ever known. My Christmas next year will be a much happier one, and I will create some of the magic and wonder and joy that was missing for us all this year. Many blessing on you and your beloved Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      You told the story of your dad’s passing so beautifully. 😥 Here’s to next year, and all the blessings that heaven allows.

  32. Christine says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you f😊 r sharing your beautiful Christmas holiday celebration with family and friends. I have just finished re-reading your books for a 3rd time, love them!! So looking forward to your new book to come.

    Regarding mugs, I missed purchasing your 11 oz Summertime mug and would love it if there were another similar or redo of that one. No matter whatever you decide to do it will be beautiful. I love the mugs and use mine daily, I have four different ones.

    Thank you for all the beauty and joy you add to my life and others. Happy New Year! to you and Joe.

  33. Kathy Pelusi says:

    Happy New Year Susan and Joe! I think your beautiful home is such a treasure and would be amazing on your next cup! Home Sweet Home❤️❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Well, that would definitely work for me! Do you think others would want a cup with my house on it? I wish I could make cups for everyone with THEIR houses on them! Ha!

  34. Sally Jenks Roth says:

    What a luscious, divine time you had with friends at Christmas. I did too, since I was unexpectedly at home in Vermont with my children and their bairns, making the season extra-special! Getting ready for Christmas is one of my favourite things, and this year the presents were all done and wrapped ahead of time because I didn’t expect to be there. So I got to enjoy the best parts!
    I also watched “Love Actually”, twice, since some of my best actors are in it. One must be careful not to let pre-teens watch some of it, though!
    2018 was somewhat of an annus horribilis for me, but not as horribilis as for so many in the country and the world who are not as fortunate, and I try to remember them. Let’s try to make 2019 an annus mirabilis for all of us!

  35. Diane Erickson says:

    I love every thing about you and your gracious ways!!! You make my heart happy!!! Will you share with me the meaning of placing your wedding rings on the candles please? I would love to learn! I look forward to spending 2019 with you and all you share!!!

    Love you so,

    • sbranch says:

      It’s not just wedding rings, any rings will do! Back in the 90s when my girlfriends and I would have birthday cakes with each other, we started what has turned out to be a tradition of putting our rings over the candles, and all of us make a wish with the Birthday girl, so that when she blew out her candles, ALL our wishes came true. We’ve loved it so much, I decided to spread it around! This year we did it for our New Year’s Cake, making wishes for the new year. Thank you Diane, happiest 2019! xoxo

  36. Debbie R from Valencia, CA says:

    Happy New Year Susan and Joe! Cheers to a peaceful 2019 for all. Thank you for sharing your most amazing holiday! Can’t wait for your new book and photo calendar.



  37. Brenda says:

    I love all of your posts, but for some reason, this one just shined out as one of my favorites! I suppose it is because I love Christmas so much, as the saying goes, we should keep it in our hearts all year…Happy New Year!

  38. Chris says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas with us
    I would love to see a cup with lilacs that bloom in May around Mother’s Day. Used. To see them on New England but not here in the south.

  39. Cheryl in Kentucky says:

    For the new cup I would love, love, love POPPIES!! And maybe Jack with the Poppies. Kitties and Poppies…..two of my favorite things.

  40. Robin says:

    You certainly help bring the happy to my new year! Thank you for sharing your festivities, including auld lang syne—the best part!
    Happy New Year to you and your world!

  41. gwen says:

    Happy New Year!
    As per your PS no place like home, and what shall my next cup be?
    Your beautiful white home with the gardens around it! Perfect right?
    I would love one of those.
    Can’t wait to see it.
    Happy Painting Susan.
    gwen 💜

  42. Treah says:

    How about celebrating growing your own food on cups with vegetables & gardens?
    Love your blogs!

  43. Peg Parrish says:

    Happy New Year Susan, Joe and Jack!

    What a beautifully wonderful Christmas you had with your dear friends. We were waiting for photos and were not disappointed! Your home, including the new drapes, was gorgeous and the menu for your dinner party is exactly what we would have had, too. I love Christmas morning with paper and ribbons scattered everywhere and fun gifts that mean something.

    We spent our holidays in Ct. with my son, his wife and our two grandsons, ages 4 and 2. The house was built in 1805, and like you, I always wonder what the Christmases were like so long ago. I made “Granny’s Ginger Cookies” and carried them safely in tins as they are very thin and break easily. It would not be Christmas without them!

    I am so happy that this was the best Christmas ever, although I wish you many more as wonderful as this. Perhaps next year, you will spend it at Rachel and Paul’s home, taking a stroll through the village, watching Love Actually, listening to the Queen’s address and lighting a Pudding with Brandy or Rum for dessert by the fire.

    Here’s to 2019 and lots of love and time spent with dear friends and family. Bless you all.

    • sbranch says:

      You’re making my eyes melt in my head. How wonderful that sounds. I would never get out of my peppermint striped flannel jammies. Would need giant panda bear slippers too!

  44. Christine S says:

    Hi Susan….what a lovely post. I rarely bug people, but I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind explaining a bit more about the one pic with the tree, reindeer, sleigh garland. It’s very unusual.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a simple tree garland which we sold in my web store, and then I found snowballs on a wire, so included them. Then someone sent me the cut-out of a reindeer in a card, so of course had to fit hime in. There were white birds too, and snow flakes. I just kept adding to it with whatever comes around that fits! There wasn’t a sleigh if we are talking about the same one … the white one over the sideboard in the dining room?

  45. linda zaner says:

    love your creativity, wonderful ideas and a cat with a painted on mustache!!
    However a note from a nutrition freak; the seeds on toast are great idea, but a slight run in the coffee grinder would add to the health benefit; most of these small seeds “run” right through our digestive tract literally, imparting very little of their wonderful chemicals. Just a thought, maybe check it out?

    • sbranch says:

      My girlfriend Siobhan suggested I soak them so they are just about ready to sprout, for full health benefit. Have you heard of that? Thank you!

  46. Pam says:

    Thank you for sharing your holiday! As the only child of an unwed mother, my family was only Mom’s family and those happy years have melted away as they’ve all gone on now. Your wonderful party reminded me of those happy & sometimes giddy holidays. I love that your men worked on the table while you watched a chick flick 🙂 So comfy.

  47. Kathie says:

    I hope your wonderful photo of Lower Slaughter makes your new English photo calendar. It’s one of my faves. Your blogs are always so inspiring and really nudge me to be more creative. They often lift my mood and make me laugh, too. Thank you. Maybe something Englishy for a new mug?

  48. Peggy Poole says:

    Happy New Year you wonderful lady. Thank you for blessing us all in 2018 an I look forward to 2019. Love love love your Christmas decoration. Joe and you sharing your life, friend and furry adult with us is so enjoyable.
    When I need to a British fix I come to your website.
    There is another blog that takes me back to England- A Brit in Tennessee or Have you ever visited.

  49. Donna Spencer says:

    However you get there….All Hearts Come Home for Christmas!

  50. Tara S Baker says:

    Oh delightful, delightful…

    Can you share a closeup of your mantle? What are the words? What is the book? I just love how it looks from afar… but I’d love to see up close!

  51. Patti says:

    Hi Susan
    What a wonderful Christmas post! My husband made a top that fits over our dining room table that we use for large crowds. Basically, he made a frame that locks over the tabletop with a huge piece of plywood attached on top that extends way over the ends of the regular table . .if that makes any sense! Happy 2019 to you and Joe!

    • sbranch says:

      It does! Our table was perfect for 14, but 16 put us over the top, hence the new leaf. But then, the inevitable sag, we knew it was coming! Happy New Year!

  52. Mainely Grace says:

    How about a series of cups each depicting the countries you & Joe have visited; England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland? It was a lovely post. Thank you for sharing your celebrations.
    Happy and Healthy New Year!

  53. What lovely fellowships and fun. Jack is so adorable!

    And New Year’s may be every man’s birthday, but it is my actual birthday 🙂

    I was wondering if there is a link for your grandmother’s Molasses Cookies?

    They look wonderful and I love that kind of cookie! Especially with a nice cup of Darjeeling.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, well, Happy Birthday Heather!!! You get it all, champagne, fireworks, hats and noisemakers! AND a new year!

  54. Deborah Winter says:

    Happy New Year and thank you for the wonderful post. I think this Christmas was the ones of the nicest and most relaxing ever and it seems as if everyone feels the same way. Suggestions for the cup: I like the smaller cups and would love to see one with herbs on it or dog breeds or something frenchified with Paris and eclairs/macarons/poodles/beret’s/croissant, french words like bonjour, bon soir, etc. Love the new dish offerings and plan to put my order in this Friday.

  55. Linda Chudej says:

    Thank you for sharing a simply wonderful Christmas with us! It’s so much fun to read about all the preparations & to see all the pictures of your lovely home & the surrounding area. It’s heartwarming to read about the family of friends you & Joe have made. And thank you for taking us along to your New Year’s Eve celebration with friends. I’m really looking forward to reading Enchanted and to the English countryside calendar!

  56. Debbie Valentini says:

    Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing your Christmas festivities with your girls ( I suspect there are men too.) Departing guests, squirreling ornaments to their attic homes, and putting all the dishes away are bittersweet tasks. The promise of a whole new year to fill with more company and all the other holiday decorations makes the medicine go down a little easier. It seems you have a busy year ahead and I certainly look forward to you sharing it with us. Make this year the best, healthiest and happiest! Good luck with your book and I can’t wait to read it. Many blessings.

  57. Nancy Mosley says:

    Beautiful as always! I loved every snippet of it. Thank you for bringing us into your home and sharing your Christmas celebration with your friends and family. Happy New Year!

  58. Laura from Indiana says:

    Hello Susan! I haven’t written in a while – life gets busy – but it’s always nice to slow down and read your lovely blog posts. How about a night sky mug? Moon and stars?

  59. Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas with us…it looks magical! How wonderful to have old friends around your table. Here it was new friends…at our new home we had neighbors who would have been alone on Christmas Eve. Four other couples for our traditional Eastern European Holy Supper called Velija. Pierogi, fish, cabbage soup, and oplatki ( wafers that taste like communion wafers with Nativity scenes on them…) and lots of cookies. I smiled when I saw Joe and the new leaf for the table. When we downsized I had two leaves…one was cracked and warped so we got rid of it….mistake – even in a sad state I could have used it. I had to borrow folding chairs for all of us to fit around the table…and it was PERFECT. We put the baby in the manger from my departed mother in law’s nativity set, and by candlelight we sang Silent Night. It was perfect….like your holiday, in a different way, but perfect. May the New Year hold all good things for you and Joe – Blessings!

  60. Melissa says:

    Dear Susan and Joe,
    Happy New Year! I’d say you more than survived, you thrived! I did, too, in my own way despite some tough moments, which everyone has it seems. I loved seeing your beautiful home and friends in your celebrations of Christmas and the New Year. You made me smile and laugh, and as always, made me so grateful for this life and all the beauty that exists around us. Thank you for inspiring us and being a large part of the beauty!

  61. So fun to be part of your chilly Christmas! Happy New Year from Sunny Southern California!

  62. Linda Matson says:

    Oh, Lord! This was beautiful. We had our best Christmas ever, too, because it was all about our little family. My two sons here – one home from California, the other with his love and our precious grandson. And just being FAMILY. So – for the new cup, perhaps that should be the theme – Family – Together – Gathering – Ties that Bind. And HOME. Love to you. Happy New Year!!

  63. Deborah Winter says:

    Also a Peter Rabbit or Beatrix Potter cup!

  64. Joellen Waldenmaier says:

    Thanks for sharing Susan. I love seeing all your friends and decorations. Happy New Year!

  65. I loved seeing all of your beautiful celebrations and ordinary days with your friends. I don’t know how you manage it, but everything is always perfect and you never, ever seem stressed. I love Christmas and usually over do it for my husband, children and grandchildren in every area… decorating, presents and cooking. Tell me your secrets!

  66. Holly Norton says:

    Valentine’s Day cup pleeeeeease! xoxo

  67. Lin says:

    Most wonderful. Thank you

  68. Pam Wilson says:

    Happy New Year, Susan and Joe! Seeing your beautiful Christmas celebration warmed my heart like tea in one of your lovely cups! It was great to see your British friends having taking part in your great traditions. Thanks so much for sharing your celebration with all of us. We too are looking for snow in Boxford. We have ice for our ice rink but snow would be wonderful–for Christmas we bought our newest grandchild the adorable LLBean sled! Can’t wait to see the 2020 calendars!

  69. Asha says:

    Hi Susan! Thank you for sharing your wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations. I felt like I was right there with you! A new cup would be lovely with a moon theme. As others have stated, whatever you decide will be wonderful. ❤️

  70. Kathy Prell says:

    Happy New Year Susan! Thank you for sharing your very special Christmas. So beautiful and full of love! Your blog is always so inspiring, leaving me feeling peaceful and happy. My favorite flowers are hollyhocks and lily of the valley…either or both would be so pretty on a mug…

  71. Diana Brito says:

    Happy New Year from San Francisco –
    About a new cup – ocean themed for us mermaids. One for Pacific, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. You know, our beaches and oceans are so different and magnificent in their own way


  72. Susan Bochman says:

    Thank you for sharing your holiday with all of us. So much of what you do has been based on tradition, whether traditions of your own family or the tradition of the season that is celebrated. Those traditions put smiles on your faces as you celebrated and smiles on our faces as we read your blog….here’s to the New Year and all good things to come into our lives. We will add another little name to our family tree in August…..more little ones to share wonderful traditions with in our lives. Hello to Joe.

  73. Donna Hardin says:

    Everything so lovely…what memories. I can’t wait to read about your Rachel meeting…and how blessed you are that your hubbies enjoy one another too! So fun. Happy New Year. Loved all these pictures.

  74. Sarah Maldonado says:

    I loved all the candlelight and Christmas lights sparkling through the camera lens. Especially loved the New Year’s singing and wish making. How about a Game Night mug. I am enjoying time with my 3 BFFs playing what we call Rummikub for Life! We are keeping running scores for life and when our time here is up, the remaining members will announce the dearly departed’s final score at the service. (We all have a great sense of humor, I think).
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      I adore Rummikub. My mom taught us. Such a fun game! Your version is different 🤣, but what’s not to love! Girlfriends forever!

  75. bev tippett says:

    There is so much joy & love in this post – it made me teary. What a wonderful celebration of friends. Thank you for sharing this special time.

  76. Ginny Evans in Texas says:

    Loved “stopping by” to see all your Christmas preparations and the happy results. I loved how you walked us through the visit and day of. Your cozy old-time home is just perfect for nostalgic thoughts.

    Happy New Year!! Have fun making the book and calendars–can’t wait to see them!

  77. Rebecca from Wasington says:

    What a lovely holiday newsletter – complete with photos that thrill my heart! Love Actually is one of our Christmas favorites also! I chuckled when I heard of acquaintances walking out during the nude scene (when it was in the theaters). Our 2 year old granddaughter was sporting the colorful, glowing lightbulb necklace this Christmas also! She would have fit in perfectly at your party. Happy New Year dear “bearer of daily joys”!!

  78. Sabrina says:

    Susan, I am new to the group. I was introduced to you by my dear blog friend, Susan’s Between Naps on the Porch. She recommended your trilogy & book lover that I am I ordered #1. Halfway through I ordered #2 & 3. I have since bought 2 cookbooks. You are passionate about everything I have been passionate about since I was a child! Just not able to put into words ( I am a reader, not a writer,ha) how beyond thrilled I am to get to know you. I got tears in my eyes reading this post. ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      And now I have tears in mine! Thank you Sabrina, I’m so happy to meet you, and thank Susan too! . . . xoxo

  79. Juli says:

    Could you share with me what MUSICA stands for? Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      Click on it … it’s Music … I choose something different for every blog post. You click on it, let it play while you come back to the blog and read.

  80. Angie says:

    A Merry Christmas indeed. Such a lovely post. I will have to go back and reread it a few more times. A new cup? Hmmmm. I will give it some thought.

  81. Tamara Kemp says:

    This is just a lovely vision of a Christmas celebration. I felt like I was there enjoying the entire visit. Thank you for sharing your wonderful celebration.

  82. Chris K in Wisconsin says:

    Oh, Susan! What a wonderful post. It is all over way too quickly, isn’t it? But it looks like you had a beautiful holiday for sure. Both my daughter and DIL asked for the Michelle Obama book “Becoming” for Christmas, and I printed out your bookmarks from your last post and gave them each one in their books. Then, I opened a BEAUTIFUL bone china SB cup that was a gift from my daughter. I just keep looking at it, it is so beautiful!! I, too, have to fill in my new (SB) calendar. I am still going through our multitude of Christmas bins and trying to pare them down. It is a long process!! I do so hope that the New Year brings all of us peace & joy!!

  83. Penny says:

    Looks like you & Joe had a wonderful Christmas 🎄 it’s alwsys a little sad when it all comes to an end . Happy New Year 💫
    The new cups could have lovely birds -cardinal- Mountain Blue birds -stellar jays-a sweet owl 🦉. Just some food for thought 💕. Penny

  84. Lynn Barlow says:

    What perfect timing for your message, Susan! I was curled up on the sofa with a cup of chai tea, reading (and loving) “Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams,” when my hubby looked up from his iPad and said, “Susan Branch’s blog just came in.” Double delight! Wishing you and Joe many blessings in 2019!!

  85. Ann R. says:

    Susan, a happy new year to you. Your friends and festivities are delightful to see. It looks like there were books given at Christmas which are the nicest gifts to receive and give. Thanks for sharing your good times with your girlfriends over the “interwaves” I enjoy reading the blog but also all the girlfriends that comment on the blog post, yes I am one who reads them. Your seed toast what a clever idea must try that one.

    • sbranch says:

      Aren’t they wonderful? I LOVE reading the comments. Fills my heart with joy to see so many kindred spirits in one place!

  86. Debbie Vaky says:

    Your tree is so pretty. What kind of lights do you use? And, do you add tinsel or garland?

    • sbranch says:

      This year we didn’t use tinsel, we do sometimes though. We used both large colored lights and also tiny white lights. Two sizes make more texture on the tree!

      • Debbie vaky says:

        Thanks…by bigger lights, do you mean the old fashioned ones where you screw in each bulb? I use those but only the red, green, and blue bulbs.

        • sbranch says:

          Yes, those old fashioned ones. I like lots of sparkle, so almost everything on our tree, unless it’s old and means the world, is sparkly.

  87. Jocelyn says:

    What a beautiful Christmas you had ! Thanks for sharing with all of us. The molasses cookies had me drooling through the entire post! Do you have a recipe you can share with all your girlfriends? 🙂 Happy New Year

  88. Margaret R Harke says:

    Just a big THANK YOU for a lovely blog and letting us enjoy your celebrations!

  89. Janet says:

    The next cup should be “There’s no place like home,” with your house on it! And… your fireplace? Clothesline? Dining room sideboard? Peter Rabbit Room? Etc.?

  90. Kari O'Brien says:

    Hi Susan,
    This is such a warm and enchanting blog post! Thank you for sharing all of the hard work and prep that went into a celebration of love and friendship.
    I think a mug of the full moons would be wonderful too! There are so many great ideas listed so far. I can’t wait to see what you will create in your house of creativity! So much love to you!

  91. Barbara A Case says:

    So very nice to see your blog….always enjoy, The lovely moon………Personally I think there should be horoscopes and moon signs…feel much more akin to the moon. So happy you all had such lovely holidays, Happy New Year !!

  92. Gayle S says:

    Happy New Year, Susan! Wishing you and Joe your best year yet!

  93. Judy You g says:

    How about a Breakfast Mug? My husband and I sit and have our coffee in your mugs every morning. I have 6 of your mugs and he chooses which ones to use each morning. We do French Press Coffee and it makes enough to completely fill two of your mugs. I would love a Breakfast themed mug to use for my morning coffee. You could have seedy toast, a cinnamon roll, kettle , coffee steaming, pancakes on a plate, etc decorating the mug. That would be wonderful! By the way, Thankyou for a wonderful post! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Being from England, we always had cauliflower with cheese sauce and my mum served bacon with it. My family loves it!

  94. Daralyn says:

    Happy new year!!!
    I was so happy to see that you had the time to update! What a treat. I have been lamenting the fact that I don’t see my friends enough. What an inspiration. I am making dates today for entertaining friends and for traveling to see those who have moved too far away for regular visits.

    take care! Thank you

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a gift you give them! SOMEBODY has to be the glue ~ it inspires others to get their glue up too! Have fun!

  95. Catherine says:

    What a joy to read of your AMAZING Holiday with your friends! LOVED all the photos and comments. Why were the crackers so small? LOL! I usually buy the biggest, shiniest ones I can find (they usually have nicer gifts inside!). I actually introduced the tradition to a friend of mine this year – he had never heard of them. I have been having them on my Christmas table for ages….thank you for the wonderful photos!

    • sbranch says:

      We had big ones for everyone at the table, but those tiny ones were just for us while we unwrapped gifts. It was so fun, 5 pairs of arms, crossed, each hand pulling a popper, all at the same time!

  96. Nancy J Coler says:

    It is lovely to share in your Christmas celebrations with your British friends. What a treat to have them visit. My husband and I made several friendships in England being Anglophiles like you. The friendships began as Pen Friends, then we were lucky to meet them once we finally made it to the UK. One of my friends is coming this Spring to visit me. We are both widows now, but our friendship has grown so much. I’m looking forward to your upcoming book about the friendship you’ve made with your British friend. It is amazing and wonderful how things work out. The story of how I met my friends in England seems to fascinate people, but truly it happened quite naturally and is a treasure.I imagine that you find it to be much the same for you.
    Happy 2019 Susan!

  97. Judy in Oregon says:

    Your post is so full of wonderful things and so much fun to read. Your house looked so warm and inviting decorated for Christmas. Seeds sprinkled on toast sounds delicious!

  98. deezie says:

    good morning Susan

    You are truly blessed*** your Christmas was something out of a fairy tale book. Brought tears to my eyes. Such memories you made with your sweet friends

  99. Colleen Myers says:

    Wow that just made my Christmas!! So lovely!! Husband’s health issues and the unexpected loss of my brother left us with a bit of a “different” holiday season this year. We made it through and always feel the New Year is a fresh start to get on with it and deal!! Thank you for sharing your warm cozy holiday. For sure a piece of heart warming healing for me. What a gift!! Thank you.
    “The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it” Emerson

    • sbranch says:

      Beautifully said, “Get on with it and Deal” … a little spine straightener. But I’m so sorry about the loss of your brother! Bigger “deal” than perhaps normal.😞 Hope your husband is better, on his way back! Thank you Colleen! xoxo

  100. Amy from Salem says:

    Dearest Susan enjoyed this post because of seeing you and your friends really enjoyed a lovely Christmas.
    Was especially touched by the time spent watching two of my very favorites, Love Actually and the enchanting Bishops Wife movies. They are a must for me plus A Child’s Christmas in Wales. To me making my 40+year old sons their favorite holiday cookies and
    sitting down and.serving them with cups of hot tea just fills my heart. These things are the gift to our friends and family. Your very lovely blogs filled with the beauty and peace of an everyday gentle life gives us a quiet corner to consider how we can find special moments in our busy lives. You help me to stop and consider how lovely life can be. I love reading your blog, trying your recipes and shopping for things I love but can’t find just anywhere in your online store. Wishing you and your Joe a Happy New Year.
    P.S. I love the off bookmarks💗

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