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. Amy Rubins says:

    Merry Christmas Susan!
    The photo of your house looks exactly like the Inn in Vermont that Bob Newhart and his tv wife Joanna ran. I loved that show and seeing your home reminded me of that heartwarming, yet corny show.

  2. Kathy Maliszewski says:

    Your photos are so precious ! ! ! Makes me wish we still lived in the North !

  3. Margot in MS says:

    Snow and nostalgia!
    Went to the fabric store and Hobby Lobby, and I thought of you. I got a house shaped cookie cutter, and then at HL I saw black and white buffalo check dishes and things for the Christmas table. I liked the outfit you wore for your talk this past Autumn!
    Trying to make Christmas at our hotel. I have things with the gingerbread men on them. A table runner that looks like a Winter Southern garden.
    Thanks for the slaw recipient! My cookbook is at home. 😏

  4. Simone says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe Susan. Thank you for your beautiful blogs.

  5. Gayle VP says:

    ❤️ Thank you & Merry Christmas to you and Joe!

  6. Cheryl Wright says:

    Merriest Christmas to you, Joe and Jack!

  7. Jane says:

    If this were on Facebook, I’d be liking — no, LOVING — every picture and every quote and every comment. Thank you, Susan Branch. You are a year-round Christmas gift to so many. Merry, merry, merry.

  8. Pam Ross says:

    I 💕 your posts! I feel like we’re old friends, sipping a cup of hot tea. I wish that your website would accept VISA as payment. I don’t use PAYPA? MERRY CHRISTMAS SUSAN and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • sbranch says:

      It does as far as I know, Pam … I forwarded your comment to Sheri so she can check on it and see what’s up …try again later! Merry Christmas!

      • Carrie Weidert says:

        Hope it is ok to jump in and say the online store most definitely accepts visa. I do not use paypal but have had no problems using visa. Enjoy!

  9. Cathy says:

    Thank you , this came at the right time
    I needed some Christmas cheer.

  10. Els Manning says:

    love reading your stories. It’s so good to just sit and enjoy for a minute. Love the pictures, the drawings, and the quotes. It’s like a dish, with all different flavors, that compliment each other. Thank you!

  11. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Oh my this was beautiful, fun, informative, so pretty, delicious, spiritual……I loved it! Thank you so much ! Hugs, Joan

  12. Susie Jackson says:

    What a lovely post – so full of joy and goodness. A very Merry Christmas to you Susan! Thank you for making my world brighter.


  13. Patti Gill says:

    Loving the peace of your island and your home!

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

    Hello again Susan, I just figured out what movie that scene was from that you posted, it was from The Man Who Came to Dinner starring Bette Davis, Monty Wooley, and Billie Burke. it was about an obnoxious houseguest (Monty) who fell down Billie’s icy front steps and threatened to sue for the injury. so he became an obnoxious houseguest and took over the household and Bette Davis was his secretary. that was an hilarious movie, I loved it and its one of my favorites. you should see the stunts and trickery Monty pulls while being a guest, and it turns out his injury is not all that serious, a laugh a minute. 😀

  15. Your blog made me want to sing and sing.
    The season’s joys are endless and you make them so merry with your clever artistry.
    Many thanks.

  16. Sally says:

    This post warmed me to the soul!
    I enjoyed all of it!
    I am SO envious of your life.
    I am glad I can spend a sweet, but too short moment, to read your post & mentally transport myself into your wonderful world!
    Thank you & happiest of holidays.
    Merry Christmas!

  17. Sherry Johnson says:

    I am a big fan of you and Gladys Taber. I love it when you use quotes from her. No snow here in San Diego, but lots of Christmas spirit anyway.

  18. Margaret Matlock says:

    Love the pictures of the snow, the full moon(it was big and bright here too and all your sweet Christmas decorations! I collect books about Christmas and would love to have one written by you.Merry Christmas!!

  19. Oh my, your post came just as I was sitting down with tea from my Martha’s Vineyard mug. SOME day I hope to visit, but until then, I love seeing your home. Decorated or “not” it’s so beautiful. And that snow…. it’s warm here in Sunny Southern California. I HOPE you do write a Christmas book! I would love to be able to read it with my grands! Merry Christmas, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m working on it everyday, and every so often, I get one of those little quivers of joy when a word comes out right. It’s such a good time of year for it! xoxoxo

  20. Karen from Milton says:

    Dear Susan… true about wonderful local productions and being in the audience as a great appreciator of those generously sharing their passion and musical gifts. We did this very thing last weekend; attended a Winter Concert which filled our hearts with joy and centered our souls on the true meaning of the Christmas season. Merry Christmas to you and Joe!

  21. Millie Fosnaar says:

    How beautiful this newsletter is! I want to be where you are in all that beauty..
    Here in North Carolina (way down in the Southeast) we hardley get any snow and to see it crisp and white is so pure and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. Happy Christmas and the very best for the New Year!

  22. loretta sweat says:

    Thanks once again for a wonderful inspiring post. I wish you and your loved ones a beautiful Christmas season!

  23. Bonnie says:

    Susan, you live in a fairy tale world! Thank you for bringing it to all of us. What treasures your friends are! So wonderful you all share winter and these holidays together.
    Merry Christmas 😘!

  24. Carolyn says:

    So lovely as always to read your words, your wonderful quotes, the turning inward to home, hearth, and loved ones. Your friend Margot’s work is extraordinary! What a gift! The Bette Davis movie from the photo still—I believe it’s one of my holiday favorites: The Man Who Came to Dinner, with Monty Woolley and Ann Sheridan!

  25. Jodi Luciano Sanders says:

    I live in the mountains of Idaho and we are also enjoying our first really good snow. There’s nothing like it! The coziness and quiet….the slow pace. I was born and raised in Boston and loved the islands. (We honeymooned on Nantucket) so I am living vicariously through you and your lovely walks to the sea. Merry, merry!

  26. Martha Lane says:

    Have a very Merry Christmas 🎄and a wonderful New Year🎉!

  27. Brenda says:

    Oh Susan, thank you for this beautiful post. Merry Christmas to all in your home.

  28. Barbara from northern California says:

    You made a good decision re the small table with the minimal items. Its picture calmed me right down. It was rather amazing.

    A beautiful posting all around. From Margo-angelo to the wonderful Jack and food and friends. Winter personified.

    ❤🤍🤍❤ to our Susan Branch!

  29. Lillian Hetherington says:

    Hi dear friend,

    A lovely Christmas present to be given such a full hearted and warm
    prelude to that day by you. Thanks and the most Merry Christmas
    to you and your husband and that sweet pussy cat!
    Lillian Hetherington

  30. Jana Jopson says:

    Loved the pre-dawn photo of your sweet self. What touched off my first taste of Christmas spirit, was seeing the Mr. Rogers film, then walking out in the snowy darkness for the short drive home. It’s all about the power of love.

    Thanks for your abiding love of life and being a BFF with all of us!

  31. Peg Parrish says:

    What a terrific Christmas card from you with beautiful tales of our island in winter, enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. Brings tears to my eyes to read this and see the gorgeous photos. Wishing you, Joe and Jack a most blessed holiday season and again, many thanks for bringing the magic to us! XOXO

  32. Susan Quimby says:

    Snowing here today! The tree is up and the music is on ❤️

  33. Kathy Suchy says:

    Dear Susan, You are so inspiring!! You need your own tv show!! Why hasn’t hgtv, food network or pbs gobbled you up!! We need someone like you!! The difference between you and hgtv is that hgtv makes me want a new home and you inspire me to see the beauty in my own home. Contentment is what we need more of , not granite countertops and an open floor plan. A Christmas story book is such a good idea, even if it is for children I’ll buy it😊 Kathy S

    • sbranch says:

      Ha Ha, I wrote a TV show once. It was called Inspiration. And all the guests would be makers of things, happiness, spirit, positivity, hat makers, clothes designers, house builders, weavers, candlemakers, song makers, joy bringers. They would tell the stories of how they came to do these things. Hard to know what to do with the TV shows you write at home in your little house on an island off the coast of Massachusetts when you are busy writing summer books and baby books. 😅 I could not agree with you more. Contentment is the gift. And it lives inside us all, and all it requires to GET it, is to notice it.😘

  34. Peg Shelton says:

    I love the quote by Walt Disney and it amazes me that he held that attitude when he had such a dismal boyhood. His family was very poor and his father would make Walt and his brothers work rather than go to school. I can’t remember where I read this, wish I could. Some biography of him I think. It’s amazing that he brought the best of all things to share with so many people for so very many years.

  35. Amelia Mathews says:

    Ahhh! How can I even say anything that would come a mile from telling you how your Marshmellow post touches my heart! Thank you.

  36. Nancy Roth says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe! Another lovely post! Thank you for all of your inspiration, Susan! It is a happy day when I read your blog!

  37. Mary Ann in Mid-Missouri says:

    Nothing like a good snowfall to get you in the Christmas spirit. We may get some this weekend or Sunday night into Monday. I’m ready. Merry Christmas!

  38. Sue Mellado says:

    Merry Christmas Susan
    Thank you for an enchanting year.
    Every time you send out your letter it’s like I received
    A present.

  39. Laura says:

    I am crying tears of happiness and joy because you light up my life with your wonderful emails!
    Thank you so much for sharing your world! It is so beautiful!
    Merry Merry Christmas and a Very Happy Healthy New Year!

  40. Kristi says:

    You bring such Christmas cheer!!! ❤️Thank you!❤️ I think I got a whiff of spray starch from that ironing board.❤️ Yessssss, please keep writing!! Bring on the Christmas book!❤️ Enjoy the snow and the birds and that sweet man of yours! I pray the merriest of Christmases and the sweetest blessings in the New Year for you both!❤️

  41. Debbie Clardy from Eastampton, Nj says:

    Dear Susan,
    Just two articles of a feel-good story:
    Mount Holly Cat visits Sacred Heart Elementary School Students Every Morning CBS Philly.
    ‘He was A Great Gift To US’: Mount Holly Church Holds Donation Drive for Animal Shelter in Memory of Beloved Cat Mr. Bob CBS Philly
    Merry Christmas.

  42. Melissa Andrew says:

    Yes we also enjoyed that beautiful snow on the northern border of Massachusetts. The past couple of days were so beautiful with the branches and twigs covered with thick powered sugar snow. Alas, the rain has begun and after tomorrow we may not have any of the 25 inches we received just a few days ago. Ready to start again. Merry Christmas Susan. Thank you for all the beauty you share with us.

  43. Suzanne Capolingua says:

    Suzanne Capolingua

  44. Cyndi in NC says:

    I love the Christmas blogs the best. Watching Joe get the tree ready, Jack watching attentively. All the beautiful things for the girlfriend gathering. Then the snow and the birds! It is the most wonderful time of the year. *S* Each season has it’s own wonders but I love Christmas time the best. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Hanukkah. What ever your beliefs are all the best to everyone. Enjoy your family and friends as you never know when they will not be with you. Hugs to all.

  45. Vita Avanesian says:

    Merry Christmas Susan!! Thank you for helping get me in the Spirit!!

  46. Paula says:

    As always so exciting to receive an email from YOU !!
    I bet Martha’s Vineyard is beautiful this time of year! I LOVE the girlfriends party!! Last weekend, my girlfriend and I went to a quaint in Michigan, we stayed at Bed&Breakfast that was built in the mid 1800s, as a stage coach hotel stop , it was charming!! We attended a workshop to make a wreath , and they served a yummy brunch!! This workshop was in a barn that was amazing,!! We are going to make it a yearly girlfriend weekend. I may not have many girlfriends, but the few I have are lovely and I treasure them, they are truly a blessing!
    The picture of your kitty is cute giggle giggle, I love my four haha.
    I wish you and Joe a very Merry Christmas !!

  47. Sandra Garbet says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan. Your house is beautiful in the snow.

  48. Becky Pappenheim says:

    Dear Susan, Love all of the snow and Christmas and beauty of Martha’s Vineyard!!! So happy you can share it with all of us!!! Someday my dream is to visit there!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours! Becky

  49. Donna Gohr says:

    This is a fun and uplifting read.

  50. Jan Johnson says:

    What a beautiful Christmasy post complete with snow, a fireplace, candles, quilts, black and white movies, Jack and great quotes and art! I feel all warm and cozy inside! Thanks for sharing as always.

  51. Loretta Brickell says:

    I LOVE this Blog ! What a Mood Setter ! Look forward to every one Susan !! I am across the country from you in N E. WA . We just have about 4 ” of snow now. Merry Christmas to you and your Family ! Loretta

  52. Sue says:

    Thank you for always making each season a little brighter! Sometime, as the New year is starting could you write a little bit in Willard about how you meditate? That is my goal this year and any tips you and the girlfriends could offer would be wonderful! Or girlfriends if you read this comment jump in and share now. Thanks

  53. Anne says:

    In the late 80’s I vacationed a few weeks in Massachusettes. First stop Boston, toured all over, travelled to Chatham, spent few days at the Chatham Bars Inn. Best sunrises ever. On to Woodshole, ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. I stood under the hand of the white statue you showed a few blogs ago. Tourist pic. My husband at that time became ill and had to be in hospital in Falmouth so we stayed there a week at the Village Green Inn. I think it’s closed now. Couldn’t go home until doctor cleared him to fly. The innkeepers were wonderful to us. He had a stroke in his eye, at age 36! I told him he ate too much lobster at Legal Seafood! Ha. Ever since that vacation I’ve had a longing for Martha’s Vineyard and your blogs let me enjoy it all over and over again. Life took me in a different direction. A good one, but not like there. You and Joe are truly blessed. Keep sharing. It is indeed a magical place…
    p.s. Have been following you since 1994 when I bought a few of your items at Heart of the Home gift shop in Austin, Texas.

    • sbranch says:

      All of you! You should know! I can’t answer all of your comments, but I do read them, and every so often, I must tell you, your stories are heaven. I sit here, still dark out, Bishops Wife “Kiss her for me Henry” playing in the background AGAIN, with TEARS in my eyes, reading your beautiful memories and stories. So thank you Anne, and thank ALL of you. Blessed! ☺️

  54. Carmel says:

    I always enjoy your postings but I especially loved this one. It was oozing with love it all its forms. I’m envious of the marshmallow world. We haven’t had much snow (been in what’s called a ‘snow hole”) in recent years. I know I should be careful what I wish for but we’d like to have some pretty snow days where the children can play and our world looks like a winter wonderland if for only awhile. I am so very impressed with Margot’s work. Thanks so much for sharing. Her work is incredible and so is her generosity and spirit. I get very dizzy with heights so those photos made me swoon. Perfect Christmas post. So grateful to you for it and showing us that what we treasure can be found during this Christmas season. All continued joys and blessings to you, Joe, Jack and your family.

  55. Lorrie says:

    Just lovely to come home from school (Grade 8 boys are craaazy at this time of year), make a cup of tea, sit by the fire with my feet up and covered with a blanket, and read your post. Sigh. Contentment. No snow here, but darkness outside makes the fire and lamps inside so cozy.

    • sbranch says:

      I remember that craaaaziness very well. Christmas was beyond exciting! “Home from school” has such a good sound. Blessings Lorrie. ❌⭕️

  56. valerie says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I think the movie with Bette Davis was “The man who came to dinner”. I love old black and white movies too. I love seeing how the homes are decorated. Seems like most of the homes had sheer white curtains that draped in a criss cross style. (I think they were white, it’s hard to tell in a black and white movie).
    I was born and raised in Michigan, moved to a southern state after marriage and now we’re back in Michigan for a few years before we retire closer to the kids and grandkids. I’m enjoying the snow. Locals think I’m crazy when I hope for a big snow. (as long as the power doesn’t go out, the kitchen is stocked and you don’t have to go anywhere). It’s beautiful!!!
    Years ago when I was homesick for snow, the back cover of your “Christmas Joy” book is what inspired me to contact you. I guess now is the perfect time to say thank you.
    Blessings to you and your loved ones.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, those sheer criss-cross curtains sent me to the moon in every picture I saw them in, which was SO MANY in the 1940s! Coziest ever … those ruffles!💖

  57. MaryAnn Nichelini says:

    I love and miss your snowy world. I now live in CA. We kinda traded places. Stay warm and have a lovely Christmas and New Year!

  58. Judy Dobbins says:

    Was the Bette Davis movie “The Man Who Came to Dinner?”

    • sbranch says:

      Ha! Of course. That’s what was on … I was working around the house and not paying close attention . . .

  59. Joy in Alabama says:

    Merry Christmas!!! Thank you for giving my life so much beauty with your books and calendar and the blog and your cookbook and some notecards in a tin I found at the thrill store (thrift store) recently. I just love it all so much! I hope your Christmas is filled with wonderful people and beautiful things!

  60. Cathy - Anaheim, CA says:

    Glad to hear you like the King Arthur Flour catalogs. That flour company is my new passion. I enjoy looking through the catalogs and reading the blog. Love the monthly baking recipes, Q &A’s and suggestions of other bakers. Makes me feel like I am in a baking class with the whole world!

  61. Sandra Hunt says:

    Susan, What a beautiful snowy sight from your windows. Your bathroom curtain from a tablecloth reminded me of a children’s book I used to read to my grandsons. It was Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman. You’re probably familiar with it. Your curtains will live on and on. I love them. Wonderful Christmas post. Thank you.Sandra

  62. Katherine Arends says:

    I also just “discovered” honey crisp apples, and they are delicious!! 🍎 I can’t wait to read the Christmas story you are writing. I am sure it will be enchanting.

    Merry Christmas! 🎄

  63. Gail Yard says:

    Just home from my grandson’s Winter Concert [Christmas Concert is no longer politically correct] and found your letter in my e-mail. We came home in rain and fog…but as we drove past all of the Christmas lights…it was magical in its own way. The snow in your photographs looks beautiful…and would be lovely for Christmas. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

    • sbranch says:

      How lovely that concert must have been! I’ve always thought the words “politically correct” actually stood for welcoming kindness. Actually, manners. It’s “The stretched out hand of tolerance. . .” When I do the December pages in my calendars I try very hard to make everyone feel at home when they land there. I have a favorite quote by Edwin Markham that’s perfect for Christmas,
      “He drew a circle that shut me out,
      Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
      But love and I had the wit to win,
      We drew a circle that took him in.”
      Merry Merry Gail …♥️💖♥️💖♥️💖

      • Patty in Redlands says:

        😘❤️🙏🏼 Amen And well said!

        • sbranch says:

          We’re in it together! ❌⭕️

          • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

            Of course it was a long, long time ago and much has changed, but I have a lot of fond memories of our Christmas concerts for the parents when we were in Calif public school of the 1950s-60s; just young kids, little kids, learning the holiday carols, singing in unison (after MANY practices, trying to get it right!), big Christmas tree up on the stage of the cafeteria/auditorium, prettily-lit with colored lights and hung with tinsel, so sparkly and beckoning; I just felt filled with magic and goodwill after our ‘performance’, giddy being out at night with all the people and being a part of something special (in the days when the streets rolled up at 5pm and people just otherwise stayed home at night!).

            In those days, too, we always had a prayer before lunch in the cafeteria; I hardly ever got to have the hot tray lunch but instead my lunch sack packed by Mom. (I wanted to be like everybody else in the tray lunch line! I wanted that chili-mac/sloppy joe! That square of cornbread! And the little carton of milk!) Do you think that kids still say the Pledge of Allegiance before class each day? We’d recite it as led by the principal over the scratchy (what would now be primitive!) intercom system.

            I remember how we had art in the classroom then, just like music (elementary school!) and, just before Christmas vacation for two weeks, we’d make holiday cards for our families with different layers/colors of construction paper and glitter; Mom kept them all, so they’re treasures to me now in my ‘golden’ years. The teachers had good ideas with the cards we’d make (cut-outs and themes/subjects) but they let us be our own artist.

            We’d make those paper rings as a garland for the tree in the classroom. And create interesting, unique, all-our-own designs with folded white paper and scissors for accordion-style snowflakes which the teacher would drape all over the festive classroom.

            (I can’t see a snowflake decoration without thinking of it! You’ve had the paper decor and banners in your store which in so many ways are those types of decorations I recall, Susan! I particularly love this year’s paper Christmas houses and ornaments you’ve offered. Ahhh, baby-boomer nostalgia!)

          • sbranch says:

            Nostalgia is right, brought it all back!

  64. Barbara A Case says:

    Nothing like finding Susan’s blog in your mail… make you smile from ear to ear..Thank you, Susan !!!

  65. Karen Strebeck says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! I always love hearing from you!
    Karen Strebeck
    Natchez, Mississippi

  66. Linda says:

    Susan: I suggest you buy a copy of a little book called LETTERS FROM FATHER CHRISTMAS by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is a compilation of letters he wrote to his children from 1923 to 1943 from Father Christmas. Not only is the text of all the letters in the book but also a copy of all the handwritten letters he prepared for his kids. Lots of Christmas magic in these!! The letters themselves are like beautiful pieces of art!

  67. julia walker says:

    Dearest Susan, You are so generous to share your life with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and Merry Christmas to you both! With love, Julia

  68. Sharon Bates says:

    Your news letter was like a cup of gluhwein, that warm cozy Christmas-in-a-cup feeling. ❤
    Will you be going to see the new Little Women? Another of those old favorites…any version and I’ll stop to watch and the 1940 Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart.
    May your Christmas be merry & bright! 🎄

  69. Marge says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe and all your dear pets!

  70. Ruth Winkler says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful visit in your home at Christ time We shall be looking for our tree tomorrow. I have a closet full of Christmas decorations and will start decorating soon. I love the quiet decorating you mention. Not too much glitter and such. A few pieces here and there. Have a merrie little Christmas, you and Joe and Jack.

  71. Kelly says:

    What a lovely visit to your home. Thank you. 😊

  72. Carol Ann Britt says:

    I vicariously join your group of friends. Thank you for sharing. Have a lovely Christmas.

  73. Cheryl Hutchinson says:

    I’ve been meaning to thank you for your annual Full Moon bookmarks. I print out several and put them in my December correspondence. Thank you from another lunatic!

  74. Jane says:

    Pure bliss! Thank you!

  75. Margaret Harke says:

    I was going to go to bed early for once and then I found your blog in my mail as I was turning off the computer. Well, early to bed another night. I just had to read this blog before calling it a day and climbing into my clean warm flannel sheeted bed. Good night and thanks for the lovely read. I’ll have sweet dreams for sure.

    • sbranch says:

      Something true and clean and faithful and love before bed is a wonderful thing. I loved it as a child, I love it now. ❌⭕️

  76. Sarah says:

    Susan, this may be one of my all time favorites!!! I can’t get enough of your snowy images, thinking about your island and covered in white. Then you mention, honey crisp apples. We eat one every day. I used to go into withdrawls when they went out of season, but somehow our grocer has found suppliers year round. They are the very best indeed!!! The King Arthur catalog!!! That very one I kept for weeks. I wanted to recreate each one of those sweet cookies. But life took a little detour, and I’ve done zero baking. My husband had knee replacement surgery Oct. 28, and though all went great with the surgery and new knee, his body had a neurological reaction to the meds. A month in the hospital, he is now home. I have a new appreciation and respect for health care professionals, especially physical, occupational, and speech therapists. All is good with hubby on the mend as he continues weekly outpatient therapy. Our Christmas, much like our Thanksgiving, will be quiet and simple. Our tree is up and decorated and the mantel too, with our stockings hung. I’m giddy about your new Christmas story. Yes, please publish it for next Christmas. What a wonderful gift!!!
    I found a little treasure in my favorite antique shop. Do you know the story, The Bird’s Christmas Carol?
    Merry, Merry to you and Joe and Jack. Thanks for being a dear friend, though virtual may it be. 😘
    Christmas hugs from Sarah and Sadie

    • sbranch says:

      Merry Christmas dear Sarah and Sadie! Yes, sweet old story by a wonderful author! A treasure for sure! 😘♥️

  77. Pat says:

    Hi Susan & Merry Christmas to you & Joe. Your photos are beautiful & words bring hope & joy. Thank you.

  78. Marie Fell says:

    Just got back from a lovely party with my girlfriends, checked my email, and lo and behold, there was your wonderful Christmas post! What a nice surprise! You are a kindred spirit, indeed, and don’t even know it. Happy Christmas to you and Joe, and that boy of yours. ⛄️Marie

  79. Yvonne Miller says:

    Thank you for the wonderful Christmas message –
    There was a cardinal sitting outside my kitchen on a snowy day too!!!!

  80. Jo'L says:

    Needed the lovely, sweet, pleasant, and hopeful. Thanks.

  81. Ginny Petitt says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Joe. I can just see your parties with your friends. I bet they are the talk of the town after the holidays. I never get tired of reading your blog. It brings back a lot of Christmas memories that are no longer possible due to the people that are no longer with us. We used to have big Christmas Eve parties when we lived in California. But now that we have moved to Arizona after retiring, we end up going to California to spend Christmas with our children and grandchildren. Our oldest grandson just got married in October and we are waiting for our first great-grandson in March! So this Christmas should bring a lot of different memories with a new granddaughter added to our family. She is such a sweetheart and so is her family. So things are slowly changing for the good. I bought your baby book to give to her for her baby shower in January. I guess I should stop writing. I really appreciate having you to read. You are so special and I hope you know how much you mean to all of your girlfriends. Thank you so much and have wonderful holidays!

  82. Nancy M says:

    Oh the snow, your lovely photos, the fire and friends. And wow the artwork Margot completed in the church is breathtaking. Thank you for sharing!!! Merry Christmas Susan!!

  83. Karen Skogstrom says:

    I cannot express how much I love these wonderful, beautiful, visits to your home and island. Truly feeds my soul. Thank you!

  84. Loretta Kennedy says:

    Thanks Susan, You always make me feel happy!

  85. Danella on the Canadian west coast says:

    Such a warm and cosy post. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  86. Joanna in Tenn says:

    I LOVE looking at people and seeing the little kid inside! I think it’s easiest to see in seniors because they are relaxed from all the striving after careers and such and they are getting back in touch with that child again and seeing his/her dreams from the other side.

  87. Merry Christmas Susan, Joe and Jack! Another lovely post and music to enjoy. I have gobbled up every inch of it and then some. What a wonderful Christmas Card to us all! Thank you for that. I have spent most of this month reflecting on Christmas past and it has been wonderful taking these small gifts out of my heart, pondering them, enjoying them and then tucking them back in safe and sound. Oh but I have lived in the best of times I think. I feel like a very lucky woman. We are having a very quiet Christmas this year. Just my hubby, myself and our Mitzie doodle doggie. We will spend Christmas Eve eating cheese and crackers and listening to the Carols at Kings, Christmas Day I will cook us a nice dinner and we will dig into all the old Christmas specials we love and of course the Queen at 3pm. Quiet but no less lovely than any other year. Sometimes quiet is good. A thought and Happy Christmas wishes to all the girlfriends and kindred spirits:

    ° * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
    •。★★ 。* 。
    ° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
    ˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
    ˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門 ★
    “Let us have music for Christmas…
    Sound the trumpet of joy and rebirth;
    Let each of us try, with a song in our hearts,
    To bring peace to men on earth.”
    ~Mildred L Jarrell •。★★ 。* 。

    Merry Christmas everyone and all the best in 2020!

    • sbranch says:

      Beautiful Christmas wishes dear Marie! I had to put the little house on Twitter, too cute! The quote too, I love it, thank you so much! Peace on earth . . . xoxoxo

  88. deezie says:

    Good Morning Susan
    Love love love it all. I adore your blog posts*
    I hope you and Joe have the best most wonderful Christmas


  89. Betsy Brunette (the blonde) says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! Your gift to all of us was the sharing of your life and what goes on inside of your “cottage” that inspires so many of us. You make me want to live on the island and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first to think that.

    We have a family of eastern bluebirds that seem to be sticking around for the winter here in Fishers, IN. As long as I can supply the “bark butter bits” from Wild Birds Unlimited, I don’t think they will be going anywhere else. Talk about beautiful ornaments in nature….they are just that!

    Love your little bird tree inside of your kitchen. I have a very small tree like that which originates from our kids’ preschool days, which makes it about 36 years old. The original printed ribbon is still intact along with the little white lights and I added my counted crosstitch ornaments to it 35 years ago. You are causing me to think that I should revive it by putting birds in it at some point! We are big bird watchers here on the golf course which happens to also include a long thin lake.

    Our beloved 16 year old Dallas, a puggle, died just four weeks ago. It had to be our decision to make because he was toughing it out and always acting like he wanted one more day. My heart will hurt for a very long time over his passing. I look at your Jack and know that you cherish every moment with him as did we with Dallas. Christmas will be missing that little something that only a beloved pet can provide.

    I had 11 women plus our 2 pastors here for lunch on Wednesday and it was warm and lovely. I prepared salmon that Dan and I caught up in British Columbia last summer and used a recipe that I had not tried before. Rubbed it with multiple spices just on one side which was seared before turning over and completing the cooking. Oh, so good! My homemade peppermint ice cream wasn’t too bad either!

    It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughts. Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Awww missing Dallas with you ….I’m so sorry, those little petty pets who know everything and never tell. Just love.😢 ❌⭕️

    • Bridget B. in Tn. says:

      Betsy, just had to send you my condolences. My precious little Bootsie cat passed on October 2. He was a beautiful tuxedo like Susan’s Jack. He was in the hospital and I knew it was time for me to make a decision. Early on that morning , Bootsie made the decision for me.

      Hope your precious memories of Dallas will give you comfort. We are so lucky to have had them. With love, BB 💕

  90. Nicoline says:

    Hello Susan,
    Oh, you have snowwwwww, and it looks so pretty, like Christmas card pictures! Will it stay, or is it melting away….White Christmas?
    Your coleslaw sounds delicious, and certainly something I’ll be making soon, but what are celery seeds? I have never heard of them….Could I use something else, if I can’t find them?
    I have put a mini artificial tree up, not decorated it yet, I’m waiting and keeping fingers crossed the kitties will leave it alone….
    Keeping more fingers crossed that Tim will pass for his black belt exam for taekwondo today too….

    Merry Mistletoe kisses right back to you and Joe, and mini ones from the kitties for Jack!

    • sbranch says:

      You can leave them out if you like, not necessary. They are tiny seeds we find in the spice and herb racks in our markets. They taste like celery. But they are so tiny, that their chief goodness is after you are done eating, you will find one still floating around in your mouth and you will bite it, and the little flavor makes you happy. But not necessary because in real life you will swallow 9 out of 10 of them whole!😘

  91. Brenda W. says:

    Beautiful blog! Thanks so much for sharing a part of your life.
    Merry Christmas to you and Joe and wishes for a Happy Healthy New Year.

  92. Linda Lee Miller says:

    What a cozy, inspiring Marshmellow winterscape, Susan. I love experiencing a snowy world so unlike mine in the south; however, there was a confectionary dusting last week which delayed a few schools! When snow embeds our world, it’s an excuse to hibernate for a few delightful days of bliss….a retreat for one’s soul from the outside world! And how delightful
    to read and experience such a time! Thank you for sharing this stillness and dreamy blog!
    May your Christmas and New Year be one that harkens a world of great memories!

  93. Joan Tripp says:

    In a world filled with stories that break my heart, your words bring hope. I bought a wooden sign one time for some I loved struggling with terminal illness. She never stopped believing and never gave up hope. The words read, “Hope is that place between the way things are and the good things that are yet to be.” I live by this belief. Your inspiration and perspective on the beautiful parts of life that matter, nourish my thinking. Love. JOAN
    (See you on the path to Tashmoo 😉)

  94. Susan Ashcraft says:

    Always love to see your posts in my inbox! Loved the pics of the choir singing. Yes, I think each time we sing in church (choir or congregation) it IS a prayer to God, thanking and praising Him for each and everything we have. It surely is the Reason for the Season and to give Him glory for giving us His only Son to save us from ourselves and an eternity away from His presence. He is real and is with us every minute, loving us more than we can imagine. Love came down. Glory be to God!

  95. Carrie says:

    Love how the two girlfriends on the couch (on the right) are really comfortably laid back & lounging. That means it feels like home to them, relaxed & happy. My kind of party. ❤️❤️❤️

    • sbranch says:

      LOL Even when I pointed the camera at them, they didn’t move. Martha was practically flat. They are the dearest of the dear.💞

  96. Deborah Winter says:

    Thank you for the music and thoughts. TCM is my favorite and I agree the past couple of weeks have been so good I’ve been losing sleep; can’t stop watching movies I haven’t seen in years. I love your blog and always ready to see what’s new. Your house could be on a christma card it is so beautiful!

  97. Ann Y. says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe ! What a delightful post – your home looks so cozy and ready for the holidays. We are traveling this year – the first time ever in our lives and almost 43 years of marriage that we will not be home for Christmas and New Year…so I did minimal decorating. But even a little is enough when the fire is lit and the candles are glowing and you have friends coming for tea and cake. We will be on a cruise and I am looking forward to enjoying all their decorations. Have to tell you….I, too, LOVE old movies! Always have TCM on in the background. Yes…Mrs. Miniver’s home ( I love the way Greer Garson sits at her vanity table and buffs her nails!) – and my other dream homes…the cottage in Random Harvest and the house in Enchanted Cottage. Did you ever see that…with Robert Young and Dorothy Maguire? It is SO good ! Merry Christmas, Susan…I have my SB calendar all ready for me when we return home in the new year. All blessings and good health to you and yours !

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, every cottage movie I could get my hands on. I have Enchanted Cottage recorded. Have you seen Love Letters with Jennifer Jones? Another wonderful cottage and mysterious weird but good movie. And Suspicion, the house in Suspicion? I’m sure you’ve seen all of them, I can tell!💖

  98. Sharon Suzanne Moran says:

    Thank you, Susan, for your wonderful post! Christmas alone is boring but THIS! This brought me back to the magic of Christmas! I felt like I was out crunching in the snow with you and Joe. Enjoy your holidays! Same to Joe and Jack! I’m going to find some old “goodies” to watch on TCM!

  99. Linda says:

    Lovely Christmas 🎄thoughts.

  100. Ginny Wagner says:

    I love this Christmas posting. We are not fortunate to get your kind of snowy wonder here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We do get glorious sunsets over the water with such amazing brilliant colors, but we don’t get the snow falling on our roof. I miss that and thank you for sharing your beautiful world. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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