We’re talking Homemade Magic today.💖 Do come along, won’t you? MUSICA!

Thought I would talk about the magic of this season . . . We’re all going to be making some this next week (and month)!

We’re cooking up some magic at home and taking it to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving this year! I’m making my heavenly Pumpkin Cheesecake (you can make this gluten free by making one change in the recipe, use gluten-free ginger snaps for the crust, and voila!)I’m also making my Sweet Potato Casserole ⬆️ a wonderful recipe which I sometimes serve in mini pumpkins . . . 

But this time I’m just baking it in a casserole dish so it’s easier for travel. (Like my apron? Quite the garment! No mistaking the holiday!)🎃

I’m also providing the cranberry sauce which I almost force them to let me do because I love this simple recipe so much, to me it sparkles ~ plus I’ll make extra for my must-have-for-the-holidays, Christmas Jam. Both recipes are below:I get to jump over it this year, because they are making the turkey!
And we’ll taste someone else’s “idea” of stuffing 😱 but we’ll be brave, it’s good for us, makes us better people. But Joe has gathered the ingredients to add some extra gravy to the general good.

I’m not making Rainbow Jell-O this year because we’ll be all adults (and one new baby!) but if you’re having kids at your table, this is a wonderful recipe for them to put in their forever memory banks. It’s kid food, and they know it and I believe, feel grateful for it. But trust me, big kids like it too! 

This was our dinner last year, the leftovers looked almost as good as when we put the dinner on the table! We tried to make enough for every one to have leftovers to-go!

I thought you might like a few photos of Holidays-passed, of some of my decorated table ideas . . .

This was a casual dinner we had at the kitchen table using my old mix-and-match pottery collection, and the antique black-iron candlesticks I found somewhere along the way. (No marks on the bottom of these, I’m sorry to say, would love to tell you where they come from!)

Candlelight makes everything look better! More romantic, prettier colors, softer light, the food even tastes better in candlelight! And a little poem or a prayer written on a menu stand helps to set the tone. Because Thanksgiving is so wonderfully about gratitude and memory.

Cookbooks, wooden spoons, and recipe boxes (with mom and grandma’s handwriting on recipe cards) make evocative Thanksgiving table decorations. I love using stuff I have around the house. A table with lots of little framed photos works too. Makes for lots of happy conversation. Also, you can make placemats out of old photos (enlarge on copier), that’s fun too ~ you can even use them as place cards, “find your photo and that’s where you sit”. (I’ve forgotten to take pictures of my table settings in the past, I try not to let that happen anymore!)

Pile together a few of your favorite things, collections, or family memories, interesting things to look at that relate to you and yours . . . the little shoes, remember from my book? I wrote how I found them in the attic at Holly Oak, left behind by Agnes, my secret guardian angel. Now there she is, on our Thanksgiving table.

More found objects . . . Leaves and pinecones make perfect place cards!

Small low vases of flowers are good too, you can see over them! See the candlestick with the star bobeche? I found those bobeche years ago and LOVE them, I bring them out any time I need a starry night!🕯

I always use them for the holidays, but in the summer too, under the stars . . .

I looked for them for years to put in our web store, but never found them. Off and on, I’ve managed to get people to make them for us, but they’ve been very hard to get. See how you set the bobeche on top of the candle stick?⬆️

And then the candle slips through the hole and into the stick ~ 🕯 

Voila! Anyway, I finally found a new manufacturer! And this time I had them made from lightweight acrylic, just like the ones I found so many years ago. In case you need some starry light on your holiday tables!🕯

Bobeche! Here’s how they look without the candles. And, something special, to celebrate this wonderful season . . .For YOU! YES, leave a comment at the end of this post, and we’ll have a drawing, and see who is going to be the winner of this pair of starry bobeche!

I love it when they play Little Women on TV on Thanksgiving. It’s such perfect background “music.” Reminds me of simpler days and the things that really matter. The smell of dinner cooking is enough to set the entire mood of the day. And isn’t it wonderful, it’s not about gifts?! Only the little ones that really count. Like home. And P.S. Something special for PLU (people like us) . . . LOOK what’s coming this Christmas

Because magic can come in very small packages. It doesn’t have to be fancy. All this decorating is nice, if you have the time, and are in the mood, but there are no rules. Just one little pumpkin on a porch or a kitchen table is lovely and festive and says it all. That, a roasted chicken, a baked apple, a little candle, and a prayer is all we need.And the day after Thanksgiving, while filled to overflowing with gratitude and contentment and pumpkin pie, and blessed by everything we have, feed your soul in nature on Green Friday. I fear we are teaching our children greed by celebrating consumerism the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, teach magic, take your spirit and your kids to the sky . . .

Because God made the dirt roads, the woods, and the critters and gave them to us has His gift. And it’s our job to take care of them for Him. Honor them for Him.

Quiet places with wind and bird sounds fill your heart with thanks and wash the stress away. (Would you like to read my Love Letter to Martha’s Vineyard? In your spare time!)

A wonderful gift from the sea, free! And we didn’t have to stand in line under klieg lights to get it!

The pause that refreshes. The sound of snowfall is good for you!The gift that keeps on giving. Other things to do besides hugging trees that cause magic: have a turkey-sandwich, pumpkin-pie picnic outside, or surprise the lady down the street and have your whole family go to her house and plant bulbs. (I’ll give you my address!) Bring someone who’s stuck inside OUT, and take them to nature. Adopt a new petty pet! 💖 Or,

Cuddle in front of a fire . . .

Dreaming of a better tomorrow? Let it show in everything you do.💞 We are so lucky!

Here’s a Thanksgiving Prayer bookmark, for you to print out, just click there. I’ve memorialized the childhood prayer Joe “sang” to me when we first met. (Suzy, Nosey, Inky, and so on, were his family’s pets!❤️)

And don’t forget to leave a comment for the starry bobeches. Blessings on you and yours darling friends! Have the MOST wonderful Thanksgiving.🎃 

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  1. Geri Williams says:

    You are so right about having a Green instead of a Black Friday after Thanksgiving. We need to stop listening to the very noisy world and hear the gentle sounds of nature around us. I walk in my garden and listen to the leaves fall, the squirrels root for treasure and the birds ask for seed- so peaceful and soothing. The starry bobeches are lovely in the candlelight. Thanks for your blog.

  2. Carla says:

    I love your Thanksgiving table! Happy Thanksgiving to you, Joe and Jack 💕🏡 I would love to be added to the drawing for the bobeche! Holiday magic, Susan- sent from the Pacific Northwest. 🧚‍♂️🌲🌲

  3. Margot in Sister Bay says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe! 🍁🍂🦃
    We had our Thanksgiving early with the sons.

  4. Margot in Sister Bay says:

    I have been catching up on reading, since I missed two of your posts last Summer. I also wanted to comment on the post with Joe’s lovely leaf raking ❤️🍂🍁
    That one I read on time, but didn’t leave a comment. I am so glad you had family, and then the gals from the office visit! I love company~~~
    So glad that your hand is better! OXOX

  5. Peg Filling says:

    Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours❤️ With Love & Friendship
    Peg xo

  6. Lynn Potter says:

    Magical! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Jenny says:

    I love the starry dangles! So festive!

  8. Jean Sheard says:

    So much to be thankful for! Happy, Happy Thanksgiving.
    Feeling so nostalgic this year – remembering how wonderful it is to have friends and family to celebrate this holiday of Thanksgiving.
    Blessings to you all!

  9. Sharrie says:

    I love bobeches! I did find some of the chandelier-style dangling ones in Ohio (the best place to find antique glass) and they are lovely.

    The turkey breast(s) are in the oven (we mostly eat white meat and it’s easier to fit in the pan than a whole turkey), the bread ingredients are waiting to go in the second oven (lucky me to have two ovens!) and we are taking our own stuffing to my mom’s (there’s always extra people so two kinds is not an insult to the hostess). Plus it will make my husband very happy to have his own cooked turkey and stuffing. We share of course! You never know who will come through the door at my parents’ house; any one passing by is welcome. (They’re very hospitable and gracious).

    Happy Thanksgiving! And maybe you will find some wonderful new dishes to try!

  10. Anne says:

    Hello Susan,
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe and Jack too, (sure he may get a pc of turkey!) Enjoyed your blog with all of the recipes. Thanks again for all you do to inspire us.

  11. Jill C. says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your friends and family. The bobeches are lovely. Such a attractive addition to any candle and its candleholder. thank you for the give-away. Jill C.

  12. Kathy says:

    I just read this entry. And I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving too!

  13. Amy C says:

    I love the posts you share with all of us “Girlfriends” out in the wide world, Susan. Your blog is sweet light in my world – a breath of fresh air. A thousand thanks!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your Joe and kitties-all. xo

  14. Colleen says:

    What a nice kick off to the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving Susan! Your blog is a happy retreat for me. 🙂

  15. Reading your blog is like a warm hug by the fire, and we are getting the first rain of the season here on the Central Coast of Aromas, CA. I plan on spending my Green Friday wandering our farm, smelling the rain-soaked ground, drinking hot chocolate by the fire-making sure to add my sister’s special whipped cream to the sugary mug. Again, thank you. Enjoy your holiday with your friends!

  16. Sue Lamke says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you both out there in the Ocean. May the winds be kind to you and have a lovely feast.

  17. Cindy says:

    A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours, dear Susan! Your blog is a precious joy! Thank you so much for your presence in this world.

  18. Sally says:

    The bobeches are lovely, Susan! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and season with those you love.

  19. Amy says:

    Thank you for the wonderful recipes. Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. John J Brosnan says:

    Happiest of Thanksgiving Days to you complete with the warmth and joy of feasting and laughing with friends and family. Thanks for your blog and photos which brings a smile to my face and contentment.

  21. Kate says:

    Love your table settings. Every single one. I’m thankful for you, Susan Branch, and all the lovely things you show us and make us think about. You believe in magic and so do I. May you and Joe have a very blessed Thanksgiving.

  22. Deb E. says:

    The starry bobeches are adorable. I have had plain glass ones for years that I bought when we lived in Germany. They have saved many a tablecloth from drips over the years! I love your super easy cranberry sauce recipe. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  23. Priscilla says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Susan. Always enjoy your heartwarming posts.

  24. Victoria Melvin says:

    Thank you very much for your words and photos of thanks – giving.
    I love that this holiday is about gathering with family &B friends and
    the wonderful delicious food that we share together. This print in my kitchen says it all:
    “Thank you for the food before us; the family around us; and the love between us.”
    Blessings, Vicki Melvin

  25. Martha says:

    Your post was lovely Susan, and helped to set the mood of gratitude for this holiday. By far, always my favorite season and celebration! Blessings to you and Joe as you enjoy the bounty of friendship, food, and love 🦃❤️✨
    * {from Kale salad Martha}

  26. Laura Lindsey says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I am so glad that I found your blog, It really brightens my day.
    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone of us here.

    Lots of Love,

    Laura Lindsey

  27. Charlotte says:

    I love the idea of Green Friday! Happy Thanksgiving! I am so very thankful for you!

  28. Charissa (Tea Tartan and Tom on Twitter) says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Susan. What a wonderful post. You always make everything so special and i get to feel like i was just sitting in your kitchen chatting away. You are magic.THANK YOU!!! I really needed this post as I have had much heartache lately and you never fail to bring me joy. I somehow (i wouldn’t really say I leave it up to chance, as EVERYONE knows I love you.) got you a new recruit from my women’s group. Julie read your Autumn book and fell in LOVE. She is going to start the trilogy soon and I have other news of you in my life;) Lisa Hay (she is darling and such a gem) and I became friendly on twitter and I am so excited to say that she is coming to Dallas and we are going to have a Girlfriends Nighttime Tea in December. I am sooooo thrilled. You, just bringing all the Kindred Spirits together. Thank you so much. I hope you and Joe have the most wonderful Thanksgiving fill with good things and many blessings from me. At Thanksgiving, I wanted you to know… I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      How FUN! I met Lisa, she’s exactly what you expect, a pure doll! You’ll have a wonderful time! Thank you darling Charissa! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🕯

  29. Mary Jo in MI says:

    I am grateful that you and your blog exist — they always remind me to value what really matters and to strive to be a better person tomorrow than I am today. Weighty but true. Thank you so much and Happy Holidays!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m always trying too, probably “live and let live” is my very best manifestation of it . . . thank you to my Grandma!

  30. Ann W says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, May the day be filled with wonder, abundance, family, friends, cats and dogs.

  31. Jean says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! In the giving-of-thanks, I’d like to thank you for the delicious recipes you share!

  32. Carol K says:

    My sister and I are going to treat ourselves to a stress-free Thanksgiving this year. After watching the Macy’s parade on TV we’re all going OUT to eat. I feel stress-free already and Thanksgiving isn’t quite here yet. Happy T’day to your and yours. P.S. I love those starry candle stick decorations.

  33. Karen Seward says:

    Have a Wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving! Could I please be put in for the Drawing, Thank you..Karen Seward, Oceanside, New York

  34. Linda Jones says:

    You warm my heart and make me smile……….the bobeches will brighten my world. You inspire me to be a better person. Thank you!!! Have a great Thanksgiving.

  35. Shirley says:

    Love your idea of Green Friday. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, I’ll give my houseplants a thorough going over, along with a good cup of tea. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  36. Yvonne Harvey from North Carolina says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Susan. You have made the world a bit warmer and kinder through your blog posts and lovely books. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Read the comments here and you will see the “warmer and kinder” everywhere. What I love, us kindred spirits, 💖 spreading the love! Happy Thanksgiving Yvonne, thank you!

  37. Sanborn Family says:

    Happiest of Thanksgivings from our home in (almost) snowy Idaho to yours!!!
    x’s and o’s

  38. Barbara Heinsohn says:

    Oh, how I love your home and wish I could see your rooms in person! lol

    Always so homey!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Susan and Joe.


  39. Danielle says:

    Thank you for another lovely blog. I never seem to come up with a better adjective, lovely seems to always be the best descriptive. This must be one of the few (maybe only) blogs/website where it is not only safe to read the comments with out the fear of negativity seeping in, it’s equally positive and uplifting. I like to read the comments almost as much as the blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your love ones. May the love light shadow the hate in the world❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Wonderful Danielle, thank you . . . I feel the same, the comments almost glow with happiness, goodness, kindness. xoxo

  40. Patti says:

    Thanks for sharing your recipes. They all sound delicious. Happy thanksgiving

  41. rstp1977 says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! I would love to win the starry bobeches. You’re right about Black Friday. It’s not a good lesson for our kids, who wants to set the tone for the season that way (not you! not I!), and on a practical note, thanks to online shopping, you can comparison shop from the comfort of your home with a cup of tea and nice music in the background! One more thing: Christmas gifts mean LESS now that we all buy all year. But the TRADITIONS mean so much more, because we live in such busy, hectic times. Have a blessed holiday season!

  42. Connie Rose says:

    Susan & Joe,
    Thank you for sharing so much of your lives. You make the everyday a joyous event! I believe, like you two, that there’s magic to be found, if only we look for it! Love the bobeche’s! So happy that you have them for purchase on your website. Happy Thanksgiving from Indiana!

  43. Deanne Ross says:

    Thank you for gently reminding us to pause and to think; getting us back to our center, to our truer selves.

  44. Melissa Spencer says:

    I am grateful for your posts – I enjoy reading them so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

  45. Bebe says:

    Hi: I don’t know how many posts I’ve read from your blog– maybe all of them (?), and they always seem to be a bright spot in my day. It’s like a little hug from my mother. Thank you.

  46. gini blasens says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe.

  47. Shani says:

    I have never seen bobeche – starry or otherwise – before today, so thank you! They are absolutely beautiful.

    Happy Thanksgiving! x

  48. Maureen says:

    Thanks for making me feel magical inside! 🙂

  49. Margaret says:

    Rotten Tomatoes gives the new Little Women 98% thumbs up–I know what I’ll be doing on Christmas Day. Thank you, Susan, for the heads up and for your beautiful tribute to Thanksgiving!

  50. Kimberly says:

    wishing you a starry and sweet thanksgiving!

  51. Prudence Lay says:

    Oh my stars!!! I love star shapes and I love those bobeches. Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and your loved ones.

  52. Marisa in sunny Florida says:

    Love those bobeches!!!! Happy Thanksgiving to all 🙂

  53. Alice Fornuto says:

    I have taken over the mantle of Jell-O maker from my Mom. Previously I made the rainbow version occasionally, but we decided there were too many competing flavors. So now, for Xmas I do just red and green and maybe lemon and orange for spring celebrations!

  54. Betty Routhieaux says:

    I’m making Rainbow Jello for the little kids and big kids in our family this Thanksgiving! It’s not looking as pretty as your lovely recipe drawing but I’m excited for them to see and try it. I never would have even thought to try this if I had not seen your beautiful artwork. You inspire! My best friend and I often say that if we knew you and you knew us, we would be great friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m wondering how it all worked out Betty!? And I’m sure you’re right, it seems we all have a lot in common. 💖

  55. Toni Moriarty says:

    Dear Susan:
    A most lovely and blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.
    Toni from Sylvania OH xoxoxo

  56. Mary Jo L. says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Susan & Joe! Hope you have a wonderful day with friends and bask in love and laughter all day. Thank you for always calming and lifting my spirits in this troubled world we live in and reminding me of what is truly important in life.

  57. nancy says:

    Thank you for this moment of bliss! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe.

  58. Cozette B says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you! thank you for the recipes to try or share with friends. Wonderful reminder to slow down and appreciate nature

  59. Pamela Kuczora says:

    I remember one of my husband’s high school friend’s mom made rainbow jello and I loved it! I was heavily into rainbows and unicorns at the time (late 1970s). I’ve never made it but now you’ve inspired me to make it four my grandchildren. Our sweet Elise Jane is two and loves unicorns. She’ll love it! Thank you for sharing your inspirations!

  60. Brenda Winberg says:

    Pottery Barn used to sell these and they had amber for fall and red for Christmas. I do like them.

  61. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    Hello Susan, Girlfriends. just popping it to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I am in the middle of getting our Thanksgiving preps and getting some of the side dishes done so I have space in the oven for Tom Turkey tomorrow. guess what?? we had snow yesterday, lots and lots of it so our mountains and hill are covered with a white blanket and its lovely to look at, and it is cold and icy here, good excuse for a warm fire and hot chocolate and cookies (yum) and wishing you could be here to enjoy all the fun. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, lots of turkey hugs…… 😀

  62. Elizabeth Back In Upstate NY says:

    I have made the stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, corn, and pumpkin-chocolate chip bread. Olives and cranberry sauce and a lattice apple pie ready to go. My mom-in-law and my brother and his wife are making the rest. We are all together this year, first time ever! SO much to be thankful for! I love the green beach glass and the bobeches. I never, ever go out shopping on Friday. Time to stay home, reflect and look forward to the coming Christmas season. May all those in your home be blessed-Elizabeth, and “The Kitty Crew”-Dandylion, Benji, Salter, Laddie, and Jacksun

  63. jillian says:

    Thanks for the centerpiece ideas but also, for giving others permission to put a pumpkin on the table and call it a day!! Happy Thanksgiving Susan and others 🙂

  64. Kit says:

    Have a very lovely Thanksgiving! Thank you for your writings and pictures. 💕 Kit

  65. Fran says:

    Thanks for your cheery, uplifting post! Love all the warm, creative things you do.

  66. Edy says:

    Love the Green Friday. Back in the early 70s we used to buy our boys Christmas toys around Halloween and go shopping for others on Thanksgiving weekend. But we don’t go near stores that early now. The climate is not one of gratitude and celebration. So spending time with nature and homely pursuits is the way for us too

  67. Darlene says:

    It always warms my heart and makes me so very happy to spend time with you, Susan Branch! Thank you for your guidance to the good and to the beauty all around us. We are blessed!

  68. Penny mcconnel says:

    I love seeing pics of the island when I am not there, but home in Vermont. And I love the bobeche

  69. Gale Puffenberger says:

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. My kids are here. The pies are made. Just waiting for tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  70. Gayle Hall says:

    You always warm my heart and bring tears of joy to my eyes. Today is no different ……….Blessed be your day. Love Gayle

  71. Deborah McFarlin says:

    Happy Thanksgiving 🦃🍁🍽!

  72. Maggie B in Nevada says:

    I am reading this entry the day before Thanksgiving, and feel as though I have just celebrated the best Thanksgiving ever! Thank you for adding so much joyousness to our lives with your special sensibilities, Susan.

  73. Becky Maggio says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe! I was looking at pictures today from your book signing a couple of years ago in Asheville. That was so much fun. We drove up from Louisiana,, 12 hours, but so worth it! Remember my sweet hubby you called the Fairy Tale boy? He was so tickled. I gave you the embroidered hanky. We stayed at our favorite place, Biltmore. That was one of the best most memorable trips ever!! Now I’m focusing on getting to Martha’s Vineyard one day. Would love to stay for one month at least. Well, have a blessed thanksgiving and enjoy all that good eating. We surely will.

  74. Becky P says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your guy and thank you for many years of joy inspired newsletters, goodies, pictures and recipes!

  75. Maureen Sitler says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  76. Maureen says:

    Hi Susan, Happy Thanksgiving from Boston! I am grateful to have you in my life via your blog and luv-lee Willards!! Your warmth, joy and “twinkle” make me feel like I have a true-blue friend, never mind that it is an electronic connection. 😊 I’ve ordered about everything of your Christmas shopping offerings and can’t wait for my starry bobeche to arrive. Thank you for the fun that you share. Best, Maureen

  77. Kelly B in Oregon says:

    Happy Magical Thanksgiving!

  78. Dotty Wellman says:

    Thankful for you, all your beautiful drawings, your thoughtful quotes and your calendar every year!

  79. L. Bindu Van Camp says:

    thank you for all your lovely art and life sharing experiences …and your drawings!

  80. Barb says:

    Dear Susan..Happy Thanksgiving!🦃 we have so much to be thankful for each and everyday..so many blessing God has given to all of us.

  81. Kristin Gjertsen says:

    The candles are beautiful. I have taken inspiration from the Peter Rabbit Room and your dining room and cozy kitchen and living room fireplace when decorating my home. I, too, love candlelight.

  82. Rose Wood says:

    Lovely sharing of your holiday. Thank you!

  83. Barbara Spahr says:

    I want to be considered for you drawing as i would cherish the bobeche. I have a kitty also that is entertaining. Cold weather for Thanksgiving here in Colorado. My parents are from New Hampshire. Thank you for the cheer. Love, Barbara

  84. Karen Gaudiosi says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! This was my first thanksgiving without my husband,he passed away suddenly in May. He was my Apple 🍎 peeler as I always make the pies to take to dinner and a couple for home too. I really miss him but thank goodness for grandchildren to help keep the tears at bay!

  85. Patti Heisler says:

    I bought some fresh cranberries at my local grocers with the intention of making them for my personal “after Thanksgiving feast.” I had no recipe, but thought I would look in one of your books-which have saved me so many times in the past. Viola! Your latest blog has just what I need. Here’s hoping I don’t mess this up🤞

  86. Debbie Boerger says:

    Dear Sue,
    Looking forward to seeing and hearing about your day with friends. We had a wonderful time with our daughter. She looked Mah va lous, Dahling. Such a dear, dear gal. (now 50) I didn’t have any kids of my own, but she was a total Jackpot when I entered The Lovely Tom’s life. Her mom’s family have been so sweet and welcoming to me. Of course, 35 years ago, I wasn’t so sure about the Jackpot thing at first. She was just 16, and at the eye rolling, sighing stage. But we all survived it, even when she came to live with us summers and after her college graduation. Tiny little one bath, 2 bedroom house… I spent many an hour on the phone with her mom up in Maine, getting advice and help. I wish all “Blended” families could find that sort of love and peace.

    The 3 of us are going over to Longboat Key, off the coast of Sarasota, for a week, beginning this Sunday. December 7 is a day of Victory for Kris and her family, and by extension for me. She was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma on that day when she was just 7 years old. She wasn’t expected to survive, in fact she may be the oldest surviving person with that horrible illness. The family were in California, and she was put in an experimental program through Stanford. 2 years of heavy Chemo and some Radiation. To this day, she has very little hair, and some deformities of her neck and lower face, vocal chords but, By Golly, she is Here! And nothing is too hard for her to tackle. She is widely recognized as an outstanding Kindergarten teacher here in Hillsborough County, FL.

    And my Big News, Girlfriends, is that I signed Tom and me up for a week long Windjammer cruise off the coast of Maine, September 13, 2020. Snagged the last 2 spots. It’s through Road Scholar, formerly, Elderhostel. I’ve done one out in New Mexico, and they are just Fantastic. So educational, and you are with wonderful, life learners of your own generation.

    So, how’s that for looking forward, not back. We are nearly 80 and 75, and we intend to go down swinging and singing!

    Mucho love to you, Dear Lady, Joe and Jack,
    Debbie in Tampa on a beautiful day……….

    • sbranch says:

      You are pure inspiration dear Debbie. I love hearing from you. Aren’t you blessed with your relationship to Kris ~ her relationship to you, in fact your relationship to all of them, amazing and wonderful. I LOVE you have this “Life Learner” event to look forward to. What fun! ~ You just sent me off with the wild geese when I googled Road Scholar cruises. Dreaming Site Extraordinaire!

  87. Becky S. says:

    A balm for my soul (as I sit here with candles lit, sipping tea, and watching Christmas movies). Thank you! 🍁🧡☕️🌻🍂

  88. Jeanie M says:

    Susan, you make every day special with your genuine enthusiasm for life. You would be an awesome early childhood teacher, or better yet a teacher, of those who want to teach. They would never forget you! In your next lifetime please consider this. Lol

    • sbranch says:

      I love learning, and I love teachers, and so aren’t we all, sort of, in our own little ways, teachers? Thank you for the sweetest compliment Jeanie! 💞

  89. Vicki Kasper says:

    Thanks for all you do, and God Bless you and Joe.

  90. Rachel Scott says:

    Dearest Susan and Joe,
    I wrote earlier, but didn’t see it in print….so many comments!! It was such a wonderful post, reminding us to treasure family, meals together, all the little things. After a couple of weeks of national turmoil, it was a blessing to read.
    I see you are in the MVTimes post today, from a previous article, with the addition of your delicious Apple Crisp. Great photo and it was a really nice article.
    Hope you and Joe had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends. And, may the rest of your holidays be filled with the same joy that you give all of us.
    Love, Rachel

    • sbranch says:

      Hello darling! You are a blessing I’m very thankful for, and I know I’m not the only one! Sending big love! 💖

  91. Jane from CT says:

    Just enjoyed reading your post while resting after the big day. I love that this group of girlfriends so enjoy a beautiful table as well as a good meal. Our favorite for Thanksgiving is making your Autumn Book’s cranberry sauce….good smells on Wednesday, perfect on Thanksgiving, and excellent with leftovers! Thank you! Our treat was new napkin rings this year, each in the shape of a different herb.
    Thank you for all you do in this time of discouraging news. Looking forward to a festive Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t that fun . . . something new to do the table with. You’ll be able to use those in summer too! ❤️

  92. Barbara Jean says:

    Thanksgiving is done for another year, and it was a wonderful day for the family. Yesterday was a no news, TV, cell phone, computer day. I had to come back and read your blog again after reading the news today, it is just mind numbing to see all the chaos. Thank you for clearing the air of all the negative energy out there. You are part of my Thanksgiving blessings.

  93. ~Del gato gordo el grande, y descarado~ says:

    Banana-fana fo-fanna. Fee-fi-mo-manna.
    OHhHhHh Sweet Baby Vanna!
    Let me be, forever thee…
    Winner, winner, chicken dinner- for a
    pair of starry bobeche’s!

    PS) There’s your smile, many thanks for the best-est blog!

  94. Renee says:

    Happy thanksgiving! A cozy little reminder of the good stuff – thank you. Hope you and Joe enjoyed a fabulous day🍗🎶♥️

  95. Susan Barr-Millard says:

    This Thanksgiving we volunteered at a Church that served over 400 folks less fortunate than most. It was both heart-warming, and humbling to say the least…. one of the most memorable Thanksgiving’s yet. We even signed up for next year. Thank you Susan for sharing your home with us. I have admired your (he-)art and gentle kindness for more than half my life. Thankful for friends we have never yet met…
    oh! And I live your bobettes!

  96. Patti solomon says:

    Happiest of all the holidays and May they be red letter days!

  97. Heidi says:

    I can’t wait to retire in one more year and decorate and cook for my loved ones!!!!! You are my inspiration.

  98. Jane M Alexander says:

    All of your blogs are, I hope you know, time well spent, because we who read them relax, and really unwind a little bit, and think of little ways we too can do something simple that makes our complicated lives a little gentler, and tender, and more beautiful. You have an effect upon us that helps us look at the opportunities we have to look at our lovely, and memorable dishes, linens and nick knacks in our homes.You have helped me to see the promise in certain of the things I love, and also know which things to let go of so perhaps someone else can love them. We had a really good Thanksgiving Day yesterday. I got to hold my great grand son, only 2 weeks old today. Whew…..what a blessing he is. Have a lovely and holy Christmas season. Just know you and Joe are loved and counted as family for all of us.

  99. chris Consentino says:

    oh, Susan! once again, I will say, most thankfully, thank you…for being you!! and, I will add…I am always filled with an abundance-of-appreciation for all the love & comfort you bring to all of us! blessings to you & Joe, as always!

    • sbranch says:

      The same to you Chris, wishing you and all of us a happy, peaceful, uneventful, grateful, loving Christmas season.😘

  100. Sue Smith says:

    I love reading these newsletters. A cup of tea, an afghan blanket and fire are all I need to get cozy and read

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