Hey Girlfriends! Our world has turned to marshmallow fluff, it’s been snowing here! I knew you’d like to see it! Let’s turn on the  MUSICA . . . my mom used to sing this!

This, through the kitchen windows, my room with a view! Birds make such nice kitchen decor!  This window is like a fish tank, but the fish are birds, squirrels, and turkeys!

From window to window I go . . . camera in hand.

Standing back, you get a better idea of the situation.

Snow is good night and day! A person needs a change, and snow is a good one, because when snow comes EVERYTHING changes. The way we dress, eat, live, how many feather quilts are on the bed. Everything.

And then there’s this! Joe put some apples outside.

From the bathroom . . . there’s the arbor where we have summer dinners.

Our flying Valentine . . .

Here comes the dawn . . . I’m standing on the kitchen porch.

But we’re keeping warm . . .

Background TV is festive . . . I don’t even remember which movie this was … but it had Bette Davis in it. But this room with the Christmas tree was wonderful . . . I got all my decorating ideas from old black and white movies! I wanted to grow up and live in one, and I kinda do! Mrs. Miniver’s house was one of my favorites. Also, the house from Holiday Inn! Wonderful fireplaces and curtains, not to mention music . . . so many great old movies! 

I’ve been keeping up with my reading . . . Love the King Arthur catalog. Lots of baking, warm-up-the-kitchen holiday-inspiration between these pages!

Plain, quiet, nothing much, perfect end of an extraordinary ordinary day.💞

Still eating my delicious healthy (plain) (whole) food . . . that’s bean salad there, I used balsamic vinegar with the olive oil and it turned the white beans dark, but tasted great!

Good Morning Moon! Me, before dawn . . . wearing my winter warmies.

I had to go out and take pics of the Long Night’s Moon. (Did you all get your 2020 full-moon bookmark? Here you go, it was in the last Willard!) The one thing my camera can’t do justice to is the effect of a full moon on a blanket of snow! It’s so bright, it wakes you up! It looks lit from within ~ I peek out the window to see moonlight bouncing off snowy roofs and church steeples, illuminating picket fences and white chimneys, sending patchwork light through window panes to make square reflections on the floor. Here it is peeking through the bedroom curtains. ⬇️

Days are shorter, nights last forever, I’m decorating, but I’m loving the feel of quiet in the house. I filled a table with Christmas things, and it suddenly became noisy, so I took it all away, and now it goes well with the marshmallow world.

I’ve been writing a Christmas Story! I’ve been thinking about this idea for years, but recently I saw The Man Who Invented Christmas again, my newest most favorite Christmas movie, the story of Charles Dickens, and it inspired me to try to put my story down and make it real . . . It won’t be HIS Christmas Carol, but it will be mine. If it turns out, maybe I’ll publish it for next Christmas. I would have a lot of little children to paint! It would be a story for little people that big people would like too. Writing it has been a lovely place to live during this most wonderful of seasons. 👏

See, peace and Christmas can co-exist. I know it won’t last, soon this old tablecloth will be covered with candy, cookies, and cards, but while it does, I’m taking pictures!

I love it when her slip is showing.

Little bits of color are seeping in . . .

My bird tree looks wonderful on the kitchen table against the snowy window!

And the top of my stove is decked with my favorite traditional decorations.

There are little bits here and there of times gone by . . .

Yes, our old stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Our history shows if you look real close.

Then the sun came out! Sun on snow is JUST as wonderful as moon on snow!

Time came, as it always does, for napkin counting and dresser-scarf ironing!

This is the curtain from the bathroom. I wrote about it in my book Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams . . . remember? It was a tablecloth I bought in Cambria. I turned it into curtains for Holly Oak and this, after all these years, is the last surviving fragment, cut in half and remade into a curtain for our downstairs bathroom. I keep stitching it back together, starching it the old-fashioned way, ironing it stiff as cardboard.  When you like something, you like something. I never want it to go away. Mas Musica?

This scarf goes on the little table in that same bathroom. The one with all the photos on the wall. The one my friends don’t come out of!

We’re going to have a party, can you tell by all my preps? Two parties to be exact, a little one and a big one . . . I’m getting ready, the long slow way. Ironing, doing dishes, looking at recipes.

Time out for the best apple ever invented, the juiciest most delicious “Honey Crisp,” so good, it must be a miracle!

I invited my dearest girlfriends to a gift exchange at my house and asked everyone to bring a “healthy appetizer.” I made coleslaw . . . chopped two honey crisps into matchsticks, mixed them with thinnest sliced white cabbage, sliced almonds, golden raisins, celery seed and chunks of lobster to make it just a bit “more.” I tossed the salad with mayonnaise thinned with fresh squeezed lime juice and zest, salt and pepper, and sprinkled over radish sprouts for a Christmas touch . . . The recipe is on p.66 of the 30th Anniversary edition of Heart of the Home, in case you’re yearning for something healthy and delicious ~ and just as good without the lobster!

While I was cooking, I tried not to trip over my shadow. My small treat blends too well with the kitchen rug!

Getting ready for my Girlfriends . . . fire is lit!

Here they are! It’s definitely what’s on the chairs that counts! I’m now 30 years knowing these wonderful, talented, creative, positive, livers of life. They are all artists in their own ways, moms, grandmas, volunteers, small business owners, hard-working girlfriends. They are the gift that keeps on giving. When they’re not at our house, we’re at theirs. Winter on a small island is perfect for this. WE are in charge of the entertainment!

We drew names, and watched as each received their gift. I gave Annie a pair of bobeche! Jaime gave Margot a poem she’s reading under a candle held by Lowely (you can read it here, it’s called Enchanted!). ‘Twas a wonderful evening. Big parties are good, but small parties connect.

You remember Margot, I’m sure . . .

I wrote about Margot before, but in case you’re new here …this is such a good story ~ she’s the mural artist who took on the challenge of returning the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown to its original splendor by repainting the flat walls with a complicated trompe l’oeil design originally done in the 1840s. It had faded away to nothing over the years, and was painted over. All she had to go by was one very old photograph. In the photo above, she’s in the middle of the job. Hard to believe that wall is really truly completely and perfectly flat.

The only surviving photograph . . .

We came on a winter day to check out her progress. Contemplation. Awe.

She painted 60′ in the air. Margot-angelo. That’s her coming down. Fearless, committed, passionate, talented, and generosity personified.

It was all shades of gray to get lights and depth … she’d visited another church that had been painted by the same artist, but in a different design, so she had an idea of his choice of color ways and style of art. 

Gray and gray and more gray, but this paint won’t fade.

See the board at the very top? Yes, she sat up there . . . makes my hands clammy just looking at it.

How old is Margot? I forget but this was two years ago, so I would say maybe 65. She took her gift, her years of self-teaching, her wisdom, and did something pretty darn wonderful.

This is the Old Whaling Church from the outside, built in 1843, six years before our house was built, when Nancy Luce (the chicken lady) was 29. Connecting little teeny dots.

They have lovely events in the church, now that Margot’s work is done. We went to our Community Chorus Christmas Program the other night (I waited until everyone was gone to take this photo). It’s truly hard to know what on these walls is real, and what is just paint. The windows, are real! The rest of it? Not so much.

And what a backdrop it makes for one-hundred-and-twenty-voices raised in song that sound like prayer. There is something moving about small-town events like this, where everyone has a job, as either entertainer or audience, and everyone does her part. I can’t say enough nice about it. It makes you believe and know the old values survive. Look in your newspaper, see if there’s something spiritual going on, go, be a good audience, have community connection. Appreciators are a wonderful thing! 

I took this photo inside from the window of the church looking out over Edgartown, the old buildings, all silent night, lit up for Christmas.

The Bishop’s Wife was on the other day🎥, so I had to paint these touching words from the Bishop’s Christmas sermon, spoken in the clipped and perfect English accent of David Niven. “The stretched out hand of tolerance . . . “ Isn’t that JUST what we need? For peace on earth, nothing less will ever do. Let’s make it a stocking stuffer! TCM is knocking me out this time of year.🍿 Such goodness. It’s on right now (6 am), there are about 60 women dressed like fuzzy “kitty-kats” tap dancing and singing about sitting on “a back yard fence,” in 1933 Footlight Parade. Pure silliness, good for what ails you. The charming antidote for an angry world gone wild, wearing us all out with our boring one-note news media. And the perfect background “musica” for Christmas-Story writing!💖

It’s Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.

And this is where I find it!

We’re still out there walking, it’s COLD, but fresh, smells like pine and salt air, and the sun on our faces feels so good. Joe is trying to make a dog shadow with his hand.

On the way home we popped into the Christmas tree lot on Main Street . . .

Joe’s trying to figure out if this is too tall for the living room . . .

Big decision made . . . off to see the wizard . . .

Some of our one-way side streets are too narrow, we had to go around the block to get this baby home. But imagine this on the LA Freeway! Ha! They would arrest us!

I LOVE looking out my kitchen window this time of year and seeing the barn light on and knowing Map Man is inside making something work for our house . . .

Yup, there he is!

And there HE is . . .

All is well in La-La Land. I hope things are good at your house! Be sure to stop and smell the flowers . . . sing those jay-i-en-gee-el-ee bells!🔔And think about the most wonderful gifts 🎁, the ones that keep on giving, most of which are FREE!

Merry Merry my darlings.

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480 Responses to MARSHMALLOW WORLD

  1. Rebecca Brooks says:

    Thank for for your books…and your blogs! I feel inspired after I read (and reread) each blog. I share your love of old china, old lace, kitty cats, and sitting in the dark while listening to Christmas music and enjoying the lights & ornaments on the Christmas tree. It truly feeds my soul. Thanks again for sharing your life with us. We are so enriched by it all!

    • sbranch says:

      A blessing to feel the soul feeding! Once you feel it, all you think about is how to get more! Blessings on you and yours Rebecca!

  2. Tricia McIntee Ater says:

    Hello from an adoring, life-long fan in Ohio. Finally had a chance to relax on a Sunday morning and enjoy your Christmas post. As always, it’s an absolute delight. The photos, wonderful quotes and your perfect artwork are such a joy. Thanks so much for all the beauty you share with the world. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas. 🎄🎄🎄 Hugs, Tricia

  3. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Just want to say thank you for your lovely pictures once again and the promise of a Christmas story in the works, wheee. Those and all the comments are helping to lift me out of a kind of dismal mood. SO THANKS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.

  4. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Susan, I never fail to enjoy your blog! I just wish I could figure out how to actually get it sent to me! But I remember to look often enough that I find a new entry most times I look, and I am always delighted with what you have to share and say ! HAPPY CHRISTMAS to you and Joe, and Jack the Cat, too! I loved seeing your SNOW! We have had hardly any snow this season, so it is fun to look at yours. Remembering the delight of Christmas Past, and that the best memories are of gifts of love, things homemade, cookies given with love, from little hands. Ahh! I gave the gift of your three wonderful memoirs to a young woman who needed the message therein, thanks for keeping those diaries for all those years! Love to you and all your girlfriends, Suzette in Bend, Oregon

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks so much Suzette! I’ll repost the directions to singing up to get the blog delivered to your email … I’ll do it next post. Love right back to you! xoxoxo

  5. Gioia says:

    Dear Susan,

    You often quote Gladys Taber, whom I love, but I don’t know whether you’re familiar with now-deceased British author Miss Read, who from 1955 to 1996 wrote a series of books about the fictitious Cotswold villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green. Her writing is gentle and sweet (but not saccharine), and her several Christmas stories are my all-time favorite holiday reading fare.

    My sister and I met you at Meredith, New Hampshire, several years ago. We both love your books (and we both love cats!) and we wish you, Joe, and Jack a happy, happy Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      I do know Miss Read, sweet books! Nice to hear from you Gioia! Say hello to your sister for me! Merry Christmas to you both!

  6. Pamela says:

    Your words and drawings, essays and the like are such a blessing. I am now 66 and I have been following you since I got married in 1976! A long time I’ve shared your wonder with so many friends… I send wishes of happiness and peace for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  7. YOU are our JOY and Christmas treat that puts light, spirit lifting, encouraging inspiration, filling us with such powerful positive wisdom with all you do with your creativeness. What a BIG gift you gift of yourself to each and everyone of us. Merry Christmas to you and Joe –

  8. Merci Schon says:

    Susan, wishing you and your Joe a beautiful blessed Christmas! May the New Year bring you continued love, happiness and success! Yes, keeping the faith is so important! I never give up on our world, goodness will eventually shine through once again. I shut out the negative because I continue to be surrounded by many good and decent people.

  9. Inez Schlueter says:

    I have a library,where I keep books, of course, but also magazines. I especially like, Victoria, cottage anything, and one of my favorites, for years, country living, I even get the English version. Anyway, after a few years, I go thru the magazines, before I get rid of them. I take any ideas from them, pictures, decor ideas, and receipes. And in one of my old albums for found receipes, I found several pages of receipes from country living, that are yours. When you did the pages with your art along with your receipes. I thought you would like to know I find these wonderful, thats why I saved them. What fun.

  10. Debbie Boerger says:

    Dear Lady,
    I’m hoping your Christmas Eve is peaceful, beautiful and full of love. There are so many of us, The Girlfriends, who are made a bit or a great deal more full of the Peace and Grace of the ordinary, the joy of making a place for those we love. And by your many efforts to cheer us when we need a way out of sadness. Christmas can be very difficult for some, as we know from reading the comments. Simply put, we are Thankful for you and the Spirit given to you, and your passing it on to us.

    The real egg nog is made, baking is done, now just being still and quiet, waiting for Christmas. Tom is snoozing in his chair, soft lights and soft music playing. We’ll eat our meal by candle light, go for our drive to admire the lights, then come home to a nog. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night……………

  11. Dianne Metsger says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe. Tomorrow we will be making your mother’s goose recipe. My son will actually be doing the cooking, as I am still recovering from foot surgery. I’m up and about but unable to put any weight on my one foot. A lot harder than I imagined- A LOT HARDER!! I will probably make your Christmas coffee cake for breakfast, but I may try the cranberry tea cake instead. Speaking of houses, I love Kate Winslet’s house in The Holiday. And speaking of movies- I hope to go to see Little Women this week. Thank you once again for filling our lives with sunshine and for reminding us of the beauty that surrounds us every day. Wishing you every happiness in the year ahead

    • sbranch says:

      Merry Christmas Dianne and thank you for the sweet card and note! So happy you were able to go on such wonderful walking vacations, and another one coming soon! Yes, candles aren’t just for romance, they truly do feed the soul, that little light. Something wonderful about them. Hope your foot is ALL better! I know I’m jumping around here, but I just have to add, I loved the brown and white saddle shoes best, just like you! I don’t remember the name of the Antique Market but it was HUGE, a series of warehouses . . . and it was in Hudson! It should be easy to find. Happy 2020 Dianne!!! Thank you for being here! 💞

  12. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Susan, Merry Christmas! No snow here but it’s been heavenly in the 50’s and sunny. I don’t mind, definitely easier to drive around than if it was raining. Have to tell you, my youngest son who has been single forever has found the love of his life and she is a mural artist! like Margot 🙂 since he is an artist as well (videograper) they are a perfect pair. Artists see the world differently. Thank you for all of your inspirational posts. Happiest of holidays to you.

  13. bev says:

    Susan, as usual, loved reading your Marshmallo World posting. I have been looking for a long, long time for a clear lamp base similar to the one on your kitchen table with the checkered lamp shade which I really like. Do you recall where you purchased them and would you be willing to share the information? Thanks in advance and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year to you and Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      As almost always, I found that lamp in an antique store . . . or maybe at Brimfield … a huge tented antique fair held in MA every year. I think they’re not impossible to find . . . Happy New Year to you too Bev. xoxo

  14. Aimee Astarita says:

    Dear Susan, I just got in from seeing the latest version of “Little Women”. I took my girls who absolutely couldn’t wait. We have seen every version and we love, loved the PBS one that aired last spring. Best Amy ever! This one surpasses all expectations. What a visual feast for the eyes and just so full of wholesome and pure storytelling!!!! Wonderful, wonderful actors/ great choices, you love them all. I am sure that you are going to love it if you haven’t seen it already. I know we both share a huge crush and so much admiration for Mark Twain. I think it’s so funny that he didn’t like her (LMA)…..
    Cannot wait for more of your books!!
    Much love and Merry Christmas from your friend in Southampton with the three girls and one wee little boy.

    • sbranch says:

      LOVED Little Women. Joe did too, we sat in the dark, tears streaming at the end. Greta Gertwig, writer, director did such a good job! She was brave to add on even MORE of a happy ending than LMA originally gave it . . . and I say, THANK YOU!!! Wonderful. I’m kind of not surprised at LMA relationship with Mark Twain . . . she didn’t have a lot of reverence, and I think we did like to have women be reverent! Happy New Year Aimee! xoxo

  15. Darla says:

    Thank You for the Great Blogs you have given . Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a fun New Year!

  16. cathleen R corell says:

    I love looking through your pictures. they inspire me. thank you for sharing. hope you had a merry Christmas.

  17. Carmel says:

    Oh thank you so much for posting your Christmas/winter stationery and bookmarks, Sue! I was looking for them earlier but missed them. I just printed out sheets and sheets (will need new ink cartridges soon, I’m sure!) for Christmas next year and the others for Winter letters this year. Always love your bookmarks and glad I had card stock on hand. I have the Nancy Luce print from you. I’m making her bookmark and the snowman for some Winter treats in cards and letters. I have my little laminating machine (most of the teachers in my school has one – survival tool!) and the bookmarks always look lovely after being laminated. Your moon markers were a hit as stocking stuffers for my friends who also often look up at the sky as I do. Thank you for all the beauty you shared at Christmas.

  18. Lynn says:

    ~❤️HappyNew Year❤️~

  19. Debbie Boerger says:

    Ooooo, do I detect another trip across The Pond on the horizon for 2020? I know that when I start looking at pictures from the Green and Pleasant Land, the longing gets stronger until…..reservations get made!

    Hope all of you have a safe New Year’s Eve, staying off the roads. Tom and I will be right here, not even pretending to stay awake until the Ball drops. When the fireworks begin outside, we open an eye, have a quick smooch and back to sleep we go.

    Tomorrow is my special Rose Bowl Parade time, along with a mimosa. Then getting our traditional New Year’s meal…ham, Hoppin’ John (spicy black eyed peas in rice for you who don’t know) and collard greens….and corn bread. Not too healthy, but it’s not every day. We were going to California to see the parade in person, but we decided to cancel the reservations and save that money for maybe one more, just one more trip to England. The one we’d booked a few years ago was put on hold, for the Lovely Tom needed to have a new heart valve. Amazing what medical science can do!! We have the technology, but we aren’t willing to make it available to all. We are so very thankful for Medicare. Maybe we’ll join the rest of the “G” Countries and have Health Care for All, work on carbon reduction, and so very many more issues. There is always Hope………..

    Mucho love, Dear Lady. Thank you for adding beauty to our world,
    Debbie in Tampa….which is nice and cool today, Yea!

  20. My but you bring out the joy in me Susan! How I love visiting with you! :o)
    Blessings galore to you and Joe this wonderful New Year.

  21. Maria says:

    Thank you for your books and blog and beautiful artistry. Happy New Year, Susan! Blessed 2020

  22. Julianna says:

    Dear Susan,
    I just happened upon your blog from another blog and my attention was immediately captured by one small saying: “I see the moon, the moon sees me, God bless the moon, God bless me.” I learned this little saying many years ago as a young child (I’m now 83 yrs.) from my mother as we would be walking home at night on a moon lit country road after evening church services. She always cautioned me to think reverently when I said the God bless part as we were strictly taught to never use HIS name lightly. I have never in all my years seen this little saying in print anywhere until reading it in your writings today. And I have never known anyone else who has ever heard it when I would quote it. Do you know anything about its origin? I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entire blog. Thank you!

  23. charissa (tea tartan and tom on twitter) says:

    Luv luv luv ur post. I finally have sat down after my family left and had a moment to myself and nothing could have been cozier than you and tea and candlelight and the last piece of stollen. You make the world a better place and I am soo very thankful. It is warm here in Texas and I was thrilled to see some snow. I am going to make your cranberry coffeecake this weekend and a German chocolate angel pie. Remember those with the meringue crust? I saw Patty at Wishful Thinking in McKinney, TX and she got a gorgeous new display cabinet for your dishes. They look so special. Happy New Year Hugs and lots of love

  24. I’m so glad I read this now, after Christmas, when I am missing that special feeling that’s had before the big day.

    I may sound like a broken record, but this is such a wonderful place to spend a little time. You take us out of the pressures and concerns of everyday and remind us of all the loveliness that is either already around or that we can create ourselves! You are like a Gladys Taber for the internet age!

    Happy New Year, Susan. I have a feeling that, as the year progresses, we’ll have even more need of your wonderful blog!

  25. Marybeth Rogers says:

    Dear Susan,
    You make everything beautiful. Thank you for listening to your heart.
    Happy New Year to you, Joe, Jack, your families, friends and devoted readers.

  26. Liz says:


    Do you think you might consider making a booklet to purchase and download on your website’s store with info on the plans, exact dimensions, details, photos, etc of your beloved “Holly Oak?”

    Surely there are Girlfriends who would love to have a similar cottage – if only in their dreams – and that could truly be an inspiration for their planning.

    You might be able to find the exact dimensions of the original cottage at the municipal offices of MV to help with your drawings and sketches.

    I have made online purchases of instant downloads and I think it might really be possible! (And it could coincide with the movie release!)

    Happy 2020!

  27. Kelli Artinian says:

    Thanks for the 2020 Full Moons Bookmark.
    I missed this last year!

  28. Rejena says:

    I am always so quiet and calm when I read your blog, Ms. Branch. It brings me great joy and happiness.

    I save it for the time when I find myself alone in the house. The dogs out cutting wood with the man, the grown kids off to work. The house humming in the silence.

    I so love how you bring it all together. I finally made my ginger syrup you tempted us all with in your Tweetdom. It is amazing and now I am imagining all the wonderful creations it will find itself poured into.

    You are a balm for these stressful times.

    Much love,
    Jena from PA

  29. susan says:

    Hi Susan! I am missing you…I always look for the rabbit rabbit and it is not there anymore…This year, 2019/2020 I missed anything from you at New Years…this is unusual. I have been a big fan of yours for many many years…and am truly missing you. I am sure others feel this way too…..I know with your postings, they are very long and wonderful and maybe only one in 30-40 days….I wish they were shorter and more of them during that time…..There are so many of us that are connected and now, I know for myself, I worry that something is wrong…Are you ok? Please let me know that your are alright and everything is well with you.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s unusual. Joe and I came down with colds and coughs and all the other good things and have been spending all our time in “flu season” on the sofa! We’re better, but still kind of dragging along. Sleeping most of the day . . . give me another week! xoxo

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