BON-BONS!

Today?  BON BONS!  Cookies!  Decorations!  Jack!  Winner!  Red Letter Day! MUSICA!

Let’s start with the Bon-Bons, and really, let’s get to the number one Bon-Bon of the day, the winner of our drawing!  My MOST favorite part of a giveaway is reading all the wonderful comments you leave . . . it’s almost worth my LEAST favorite part, which is when I have to summon Vanna, like now . . . VANNA HONEY, GET UP DARLING, TIME TO PULL THE WINNING NAME  (I may have to go up there and stick the hat under her hand to get her to do this — she was out late, as you can imagine, she’s the Christmas Party Queen).  Oh, I think I hear her — she’s making tea, her new discovery is Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea with half and half; like all rock stars she has certain things we have to keep in the house for her performances, this is hers — we’ll wait, and while we do, let’s look at what the winner is getting, just one more time.  First off, this wonderful Candy Cane mug, with a lid and a wire basket to hold loose tea inside, and a saucer for your cookie!

And the little purse notebook with the Cardinals on it …. and of course,

Joe’s sweetest contribution; a fresh homemade wreath made with our garden cuttings, holly, boxwood, ivy; and pine from our walk in the woods, completely shot through with cold island breezes and salt air, not to mention Martha’s Vineyard magic, to grace the lucky winner’s home.  I also found a cute paper cardinal to put on it!  I’m so excited, because it’s truly so pretty, you are going to love it.  I wish I had about 4,000 of them, as that would only be fair. 

Oh, oh, I hear the shuffle of pink feather mules on the carpeting, here she comes!  Such a drama queen.  But nobody does it better . . . not a hair out of place.  She must think I’m (in my morning getup which I will leave totally to your imagination) something the cat dragged in!  Anyway, here we go, her arm is deep in Santa’s furry red hat, all the little names are swirling, she is taking her time to do it just right . . . round and round it goes . . . and now she’s pulling it out, names are falling away like a waterfall, and there, she’s got just one, between pink polished finger and thumb, the name, the winner, from almost 4,000 entries . . . ooooo, I’m so excited I can’t READ. . . . OK, calm yourself, here it comes:   OH!  The winner’s name is “KATHY O.”  The word “Iowa” is in her email address, so perhaps she is from Iowa.  I just sent her an email to tell her she is our prize winner!  This may have been destiny for Kathy, her comment mentioned that she lost her mom this summer, and her fifteen year old son has just finished radiation treatment; too much for any one girlfriend. So she could probably use a bit of cheering up, and here it comes.  I’m sure all you darling girlfriends join me in sending our blessings to Kathy … CONGRATULATIONS KATHY!!!   Hugs from all 4,000 of us!  Can you feel the love?

Which is very likely the reason Kathy won this drawing . . . XOXO

So, yes, we do have COOKIES (that bendy, chewy, chocolate chip recipe!) as our consolation prize, but before I give you that, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been doing.  Because you know that Yankee Magazine will be HERE tomorrow morning to photograph this house, so I’ve been decorating like a wild woman.  Joe too, like a wild man.  Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to . . .

Joe got a painter friend to help with his ladders, to get the decorations onto the house . . .

We do this every year; the only new thing is Joe’s holly over the top of the door where our fall pumpkins usually go.

I look at this and can’t help but think of the 152 Christmases this house has already seen.  I love that we’re doing our part for its 153rd.

Here’s Joe’s Santa’s Village next to the barn.  Looks rather professional don’t you think?

Of course I needed to oil my wooden spoons . . .

And I slipped in a little boxwood where ever I could . . .

I thought I would dress up my lamps a bit and so I used ribbon and sprigs of green . . .

And discovered my new decorating coup de grâce, a bon-bon if I’ve ever seen one — there are so many inexpensive and beautiful ribbons in the stores now — I just rummaged around in our old ribbon box and found these  . . . such an easy way to make things more festive ~ I thought you’d like it too.

Now, no lamp is safe from me.

I decided to make it look a little more wintery indoors, at least in the dining room, so I went around and shopped my house looking for WHITE things to decorate my sideboard.  I found a package of snowflake gift tags; turned the “two and from” to the inside and tied them to gold beads and to the lace runner.  I think this sideboard might be as old as the house — it’s really heavy, and came with the house when we bought it.  (If you peek between the O and the Y in JOY, you can see the E my darling JoEy put in there last year.)

I found a gold edged bird too, and some lucite stars.  Bon-bon city!  I was surprised at all the white things I had in the house, or gold or silver or starry, or something snow-like . . .

In the meantime, I worked around the kitchen too …. making star croutons here, for Christmas gifts . . .

While the King of the Refrigerator looks on, my best Bon-bon of all . . . Yes, he is ridiculously cute.

I used thin-sliced bread to make it easy to cut the stars out with my 1″ star cutter (this is one loaf); then fried them in about 3 TB of butter, being gentle so they keep their points, till brown; then I salted them, and let them cool.  Makes a wonderful bon-bon of a gift, delicious on soups and salads and they look festive too!

Bon-Bon Alert!  I made sugared fruit to decorate with . . . . such an old-fashioned decoration; have you ever done this?  It’s really easy.  Choose little fruits; if you can find the tiny Christmas Apples or Seckle Pears, they look especially wonderful done this way.  Our store didn’t have them, but you can see these small pears and apples look good too.

You can use tangerines, purple grapes, plums, and even holly (which I did, and it looks wonderful!).  If you’d like to try this at home, buy a pint of egg whites at the store, shake them well; use a basting brush to paint your fruit all over.  Sprinkle it with normal sugar first, then a little bit of superfine sugar (which you can make in your food processor if you can’t find it at the store; just whirl up regular sugar until it’s superfine!  I didn’t use powdered sugar, but I kind of think you could, you can try it — if it doesn’t work, just wash it off!).  Let the egg-white-painted fruit dry overnight before you put it in a dish as a centerpiece.

 And now, as you all know . . . there are

In the spirit of looking like Santa Claus (and even feeling like Santa Claus) . . . It’s time for . . .

Here’s that recipe I’ve been promising!  It makes about five dozen cookies — perfect for any cookie exchange!

The first thing you need is 2 ¾ C. broken gingersnaps the kind you get at the supermarket that come in a box.  Joe was in the kitchen while I was making these . . . it was his idea that the gingersnaps get smashed between two frying pans, which was an interesting way to do it; it certainly broke them up — but it also made two frying pans dirty (?), so it’s your choice, his way, or just break them up with your hands, (p.s. they are going into the food processor anyway) . . .

You can see Joe’s broken gingersnaps on the bottom, and mine on top —  There are only eight ingredients in this easy recipe, so I measured everything first.

Into the food processor goes the broken ginger snaps, a half cup of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder (I’ll put the recipe at the end of this post to make it easier).

Whirl everything until it’s finely ground — then set aside . . .

Put the softened butter in a large bowl; with a hand blender, beat in one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk until smooth.

Stir in the gingersnap crumbs, then add 1 ¼C. shredded coconut.

Pour in a heaping cupful of chocolate chips . . .

And the last thing, 1 ¼ C. chopped walnuts. Mix it all together . . .

And drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, pop them in the oven, bake 8-10 min. until lightly browned.  Cool on waxed paper.  Go outside, take a deep breath of fresh air; now pretend you don’t know you, walk back into your house and smell how good it smells.  Don’t you just love you? Exactly as it should be. 

I don’t think I have to tell you what to do next!  And later . . .

Last but not least, before I go, I thought I would show you our tree ….

It unfolded beautifully . . . . Jack was slightly enthralled when we first got it …. but now he’s thinking we have given it way too much attention, when what we should be doing is shooting his ponytail band for him.

Instead of decorating a tree, for heaven’s sake.  You note that Jack is not in the room and could not be less interested …. probably asleep somewhere.

“Jack!  What do you think of our tree?”

So that’s all for today!  It’s raining so hard outside, there is a river of water running down our street toward the harbor.  It’s supposed to be nice tomorrow, here on Christmas Island; cold and sunny.  Off I go to decorate the Peter Rabbit Room!  One more time, congratulations to Kathy on winning the drawing, and congratulations to US for all the new girlfriends and kindred spirits who’re joining us to celebrate the wonderful things in life.   I’ll be back after Yankee leaves to let you know how it went!  We will be having champagne then!  In front of the fire!  xoxo Love you Girls, Me

Here’s the recipe for the

    CHOCOLATE CHIP GINGER COCONUT COOKIES   makes 4 dozen 375°

  • 2¾ C. broken gingersnaps
  • ½ C. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ c. softened butter (one stick)
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1¼ C. shredded coconut
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1¼ C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°.  Whirl broken gingersnaps, flour, and baking powder in a food processor until finely ground; set aside.  Put softened butter and condensed milk into a large bowl and beat with hand mixer until smooth; add gingersnap mixture to bowl and beat well.  Mis in the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 min. until light brown.  Cool on waxed paper; store in airtight containers.

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417 Responses to BON-BONS!

  1. Brenda from Saskatchewan, Canada says:

    I waited until today when I had time to read your entry as I knew I wanted to have time to savor the long post. So worth it! Thanks, Susan.

  2. Deborah Norling says:

    I’M TRYING TO BE PATIENT…BUT I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR ALL THE DETAILS ! ! ! ! ! ………

  3. Christy says:

    Susan – Your house looks darling and amazing! Question: Is it possible for me to select and print just the cookie recipe? It looks soooo yummy….! Christy

  4. Lori from Maine says:

    Congratulations Kathy – have a magical Christmas!!

  5. Sandy from New Vineyard says:

    So very happy for Kathy O.! She was the perfect one to win the Christmas gifts. Hope her spirits are lifted some by it. I will have to celebrate her win by making your cookies! Hope you enjoy your visit with Yankee Magazine. I know they will enjoy you! Have fun!

  6. Linda in Scottsdale says:

    Congratulations to Kathy! and prayers too for peace and hope.
    Best Wishes Susan for a wonderful Yankee visit; you and Joe have outdone yourselves this year!Love all the flake” banners and beribboned lamps.

  7. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan,
    I never made it online yesterday so I checked this morning and found your new wonderful posting here. As I write this I believe it is today that Yankee magazine is coming and you must be so excited! Your house looks beautiful inside and out. I love the dresser scarf and white and gold ornaments on the hutch, the sprigs of boxwood and greenery everywhere. Looks like Joe had a one man assembly line set up for his wreaths and garlands! Every time I see how you’ve decorated, I get inspired to do something new in my own house. Looking forward to hearing how today went and will certainly be looking for the magazine next December. Have a wonderful day!

  8. Heidi says:

    Congratulations and hugs to Kathy! Maybe, Jack could teach my Nicky some Christmas tree manners. He climbs the tree, & although he gained 1 pound since last Christmas which makes it a bit more of challenge for him, he still manages to squeeze in between the branches, knocks the ornaments off, chews the branches etc… He just won’t leave it alone, Your house looks lovely. Happy Champagne by the fire.

  9. CONGRATS KATHY and enjoy all your goodies from Susan. Susan, your home (inside/out) looks lovely and your tree is such a perfect shape. Best of Luck with Yankee and I’m sure the shoot will be a wonderful experience for you/Joe/Kitties. Blessings

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

    hello susan, good morning everyone!! susan i know you are busy with the yankee people so good luck with them, just popped in to see how things are and if Jack got interested in that tree yet. not too much going on at the “poultry farm” here, lost 4 chickens to a fox over the weekend so spent yesterday boarding up and securing things inside and outside the henhouse, mr fox will not be coming back in anymore. but he does have to pay for those meals he had with my chickens so its now night patrols to catch him and get rid of him. foxes are pretty but when they invade my henhouse and snatch my chickens…its war!!! doubt mr fox will be out tonight or tomorrow night as we are expecting a new storm to move in today and rain/snow tonight and tomorrow. not looking forward to fox patrol but i don’t want mr fox back here anymore, time to go. well off to set up my kitchen table tree, may be put it out on the counter this year, and get the gingerbread cookies done and the chocolate chip pumpkin bread done for the mail carrier and the newspaper carrier and run a plate of cookies over to the fire station for them to enjoy. have a great day everyone, hugs…… :)

  11. Shanna says:

    Congratulations, Kathy. And thank you, Susan, for the wonderful cookie recipe.

  12. Pam says:

    Your house looks beautiful Susan. I love all the decorating ideas and thank you also for the recipe. Hope the magazine shoot goes well, I’m sure it will look terrific. Congratulations to Kathy as well, I think she’ll be over the moon with her prizes, they’re gorgeous.

  13. amy says:

    Prayers and a very Merry to Kathy O:) Good luck~Ms. Susan~with the Yankee photo shoot…..It just has to be successful…..your house looks lovely:)

  14. Sharon from Alberta, Canada says:

    Vanna always picks the perfect person!!! Congratulations Kathy. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  15. Diane says:

    That lucky Kathy. Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to soothe my disappointment at not winning with chocolate cookies, hot chocolate, a red furry robe, my husband’s big ‘ole wool socks, two blankets and The Bishop’s Wife. Oh, yes and a bit of rain on our tin roof. Presents from you and Joe, they’re not, but they will do in a pinch!!

    Thanks again for all you do to keep we girlfriends happy!

    Diane in North Carolina

  16. Ruth Elder says:

    Susan, you have ‘saved’ me yet again. I’ve been feeling down because I’m hip-deep in my holiday baking (700 gingersnaps done, 90 some-odd gingerbread men in) and I was wondering if anybody really CARED that I bake and share all this. Does anyone appreciate the effort, the THOUGHT that goes into those packages? Does anyone care that I’m finding time, late at night, when my 5 kids are in bed and I”m falling asleep waiting for the next batch to come out of the oven? In other words, having a pity party… but then, your post today and I realize that YOU care, and my other ‘Susan Branch girlfriends’ care. And if WE don’t do it…. who will? Thanks for the inspiration…. now off to tackle the cornmeal snowflake sugar cookies.

    • sbranch says:

      WOW!!! That’s a whole lot of cookies. I think it’s wonderful you do this, your family must LOVE you; but be sure to make time for yourself — Christmas begins at home. xoxo

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      ~Hi Ruth~
      Believe me people care!
      I have certain things I make every year that I thought no one really paid attention to ~ until I didn’t make them one year!
      Peanut butter Santas and homemade chocolate covered cherries ~ (they soak in brandy for a month)~are 2 things I HAVE to make!
      Take a moment for yourself ~with a cup of tea~ and catch your breath!
      ~Merry Christmas to You!~
      Lynn

  17. Susu S. says:

    Congratulation’s Kathy.
    Susan, I love ‘now pretend you don’t know you…’instructions.
    Also, your house looks lovely – so classic New England and perfect for Yankee Magazine.

  18. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    OH HOW EXCITING KATHY!!!! Congratulations on a HUGE Christmas blessing! I am sure it will all be a wonderful addition to your holiday! Susan the tree looks FAB. U. LOUS!!! The hubs and I decorated ours yesterday (Monday).. so of course, I didn’t get around to checking your post yesterday!! Got the tree Sunday and brought it in to “relax”. Ours is much smaller but very festive if I do say so myself!! Right now, you are probably propping those feet up and popping the champagne. Can’t wait to hear how it went.. might just have some bubbly in your honor tonight!! Beautiful day to all the GFF out there!!! AND another cookie recipe I must try! Thanks for the goodies!!!

  19. Kathy, I am thinking of you being so excited and happy!! What a nice thing to happen to you! The beginning of many more I do wish for you!!

    Susan and Joe, YOU are incredible! So creative and inspiring! Thinking of Yankee Magazine really enjoying their job today! I have subscribed, so I can see the results next year. Couldn’t find the magazine at B&N here. Can’t wait to hear all
    about the experience soon!!☺

  20. Sherry from Maryland says:

    Congratulations to Lucky Kathy O. Susan I love your house and how you have decorated it. It is so warm and cozy and festive. You and Joe have done a wonderful job and given me so many ideas. Joe is very talented in his expertise at making the holiday wreath and I love love love the photo of the outside of you house all dressed up in Christmas finery and I love the ledge above your front door with all the greenery and holly and I thought your idea of those darling pumpkins that danced along the ledge at Halloween was just about the cutest thing I ever saw! Thank you for all your great ideas and for all the inspiration
    you give each of us everyday and for having this blog which is a daily habit I love to visit just to see what is new and what photos you have for us. You are such a pleasure. Merry Christmas to all!

  21. Rosemary says:

    Congratualtions to Kathy…very deserving of some cheer! Thinking about how things are going today with lights, cameras, action! (In the form of Jack hopping around the Christmas tree!) Love how the tree reflects in the mirror and the tree is lovely! And so are the outside decorations…so New England!
    See all the exclamation points? I talk that way, I guess. Cannot wait till the post revealing how the day went!

  22. Gail from California says:

    Congratulation’s Kathy and God bless you and your son.

    Susan, your home looks beautiful. So warm and cozy. I can’t wait to try the cookie recipe. Yummy!!! Enjoy your visit with Yankee Magazine. They’re just going to love it.

  23. Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    Congratulations to Kathy ! So happy for something special to brighten your day! Susan, your house and tree are lovely!

  24. Claudia in Huntsville, AL says:

    I’ve been thinking about you all day!! Can’t wait to hear all about the Yankee Christmas Photo Shoot Visit!!

  25. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, First of all congrats to Kathy of Iowa. I hope you enjoy your winning teacup and other goodies. Very, very happy for you! Now Susan, I must say how much I love that wooden spoon your Dad made for you. How special is that! I have never oiled my wooden things and didn’t know to do it, but I will do it now as soon as I get mineral oil. I must say your home looks so warm and lovely for the holidays. The good thing about “Yankee” coming is that you “had” to get decorated early and that’s always so nice since then you have all the time to enjoy it. These cookies sound so good, (I think I will break them by hand). I will be trying them and there will be plenty for our son and grandsons too! (Yes, we will be seeing them.) I will add those to the cookies I always make each year. The other children are going to their in-laws this year. I can’t always hog them for myself now can I?? I can’t wait to hear all about how it goes with the people from “Yankee magazine”. Luv and Hugs, Gail Buss, Bev. Hills, Fl XX

  26. Mary Pat says:

    I add my heartfelt congratulations to Kathy! Hope life eases up for you a bit. To Susan, I just need to say a big thank you for making everyone feel as if each of us is your very most special friend! THANK YOU!

  27. martha says:

    I LOVE your decorations — Magical !! I’ll have to get started on my own. I have made wreaths before – but I’m going to copy yours this year – it’s just beautiful. Now I just have to find some holly.
    Martha from CT

  28. Charlene says:

    Congratulations to Kathy! And I hope everything went well today Susan :-) Your house looks beautiful!

  29. Faith rose says:

    Susan I love your perfect house ! I was wondering why do you oil you spoons?Thanks for a peek at you house!Merry Christmas! Faith

  30. Sherry Palla says:

    Susan, you are such a hoot! Love your quotes and of course the 4 stages of LIFE! I can’t have dairy, so boo hoo, can’t make your wonderful Chocolate Chip Cookies…but then…I have some ribbon…so watch out lamps! Love your idea…can I borrow it? THANKS! THANKS! THANKS! Your house looks sweet and happy magazine day Wed! xoxo

  31. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    Congratulations to Kathy the winner of love in a box and good wishes from the blog sisters. Can’t wait to see the final results of your decorating fest, Susan, what better time than Christmas to do what we love, decorate with our favorite treasures.

    I spent the day on the island closest to me, Coronado Island! Saw the amazing decorated tree and lobby in the Hotel del Coronado, shopped and drank tea with a friend on the hotel patio with the sun shining and the gulls wheeling overhead with the Pacific Ocean breezes keeping us cool, a blissful interlude to the busyness.

    Now off to finish decorating my tree, happiest of Christmases to all!

    • sbranch says:

      Love the Del — my girlfriend’s dad used to manage it years ago, I went to her wedding there, what a wonderful place on a sunny San Diego Day!

  32. Karen C says:

    Congratulations to Kathy O! Can’t wait to hear about the Yankee Magazine visit. Your house looks great! Love your tree too.

  33. Becky Farnsworth says:

    Thanks, Susan, for the joy, the beauty, the cookies, and for being there for all of us, especially for Kathy. Send her our love and let her know our prayers are with her!

  34. Janie Phillips says:

    Thinking about you today, Sue. Everything looks beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing the magazine spread next year!

    Congratulations to Kathy! It’s heartwarming to think what a bright spot this must be for her during a difficult time. I’m sending a prayer that happier days will arrive with the goodies you’re sending her.

    Looking forward to hearing how the photo shoot went! xoxo

  35. jane zamudio says:

    Thanks once again dear Susan! We brought a german shepard puppy into our family this fall..quite an experience!!. I agonized about a Christmas tree this year, as all my houseplants are living in the bathtub!!. But, as the saying goes, it is really not Christmas without the tree, ect, ect. I finally left it to God, and our tree is up, baby Bruno is not interested in the big scary thing in the corner, and all is right with the world!! Merry Christmas to you,your family, all the girls, and God bless us..everyone!!!!

  36. Ruth says:

    CONGRATS TO KATHY – Well deserved. I believe that the right person at the right time has goodness and blessings come into their lives so I hope these beautiful gifts from Susan’s heart bring joy and happiness to Kathy. Your tree is exquisite and the decorations fantabulous!! I took some tiny silvery snowflakes and hung one in each pane of the windows on the front of our house and then put a candlelight on the bottom of each window – beautiful!!! A bit of inspiration from no on other than dear Susan. Happy Holidays everyone.

  37. Susan says:

    Can’t wait to hear all about Yankee’s visit! Kudos to you and Joe for all you did to prepare for their visit!:-)

    Belated congratulations to Kathy O. You and your son are in my prayers.

  38. Linda in Texas says:

    Congratulations to Kathy. As someone else said, Vanna just seems to know which name to choose.

    Susan, your tree is perfect in my opinion. I love multi-colored lights and tons of ornaments of all kinds. Sparkly and beautiful. So glad Jack is giving it the respect it deserves. I love a live tree, but my allergies don’t, so I settle for an artificial one, but give it the same treatment you did. It makes me happy just looking at it.

    Can’t wait to hear some details about the photo shoot. I know it will be great.

  39. sandy says:

    Hi Susan! there are so many Susans here. I have a birth certificate with no first or middle name–parents were wanting two different names, one of which was Susan. Sandy won out. Hey, your cookie recipe looks just like a variation of 7 layer bars. I was introduced to those a few years ago by a friend who gave me some at Christmas which she had made. I’m going to take the liberty of altering one ingredient in your recipe and use graham cracker crumbs in place of the ginger snaps and it will be those bars in a cookie! (only, if you’re counting, I don’t use the butterscotch chips). they will be (a little less) awesome (than yours). rest up and share with us how it went with the Yanks! xox and hugs, sandy :)

    • sbranch says:

      My parents came THIS close to naming me Candy!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        I was very nearly “Jane” because my mother’s bosom buddies from toddlers through high school were both Janes – her best friend and her cousin who lived only a few houses away. All the mothers sitting out on their porches in the Summer would call to each other “Oh, here comes Helen and the Two Janes!” when they saw the 3 of them coming down the street. They were famous in their neighborhood for always being together & stayed in touch all their lives. I only ended up as “Janet” because my dad thought “Jane” didn’t blend very well with our last name. :>)

        • sbranch says:

          I have never heard a boring “name” story — they are all so interesting! Lots of thought goes into these things!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            That IS true, isn’t it? “How I Got My Name” stories are always interesting, surprising etc. :>)

  40. Bee Stevens says:

    Congratulations and good thoughts and hugs to Kathy. Susan and Joe, your
    home is absolutely gorgeous – inside and out. Love the star croutons and
    the ribbon with sprigs of green on your lampshades. I know you are ready
    for Yankee and we are all excited to hear about it.

  41. Paulij says:

    You have been in my thoughts and prayers yesterday and today, knowing this was the BIG Yankee day! I was quite amazed that you were able to take time to make this post with all else you have been doing! Thank you for keeping us in the loop; everything looks lovely and ready! I am curious how the Beatrix Potter Room turned out, but that is what you were going to work on after this post!

    By the way, I am thrilled that Kathy O won the drawing items. She is going through so much and this will be a special cheer-up treat for her. It seems Vanna has a knack for choosing just the right recipient for each drawing!

    I look forward to trying the cookies; they look easy and delicious!

    I hope you and Joe will kick up your heels and sit a spell, satisfied with meeting a deadline and having your house all pretty and cozy.

    Lovingly, and always with much gratitude,

    Pauli

  42. Veronica says:

    Kathy O. ? Congratulation ! I’m so sorry of the storms you have ,and are having to endure. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. Much love; Veronica
    Now. ‘Sweet Susan’, I am hungry for those delicious cookies and can’t wait to try them. For the holiday sharing of cheer,I send much thanks. For making it so I can be but a very small part,I say thanks. Happy Christmas to ALL !

  43. Pat Johnson of Paso Robles says:

    Congrats to Kathy and God bless… Christmas – a magical time of year – filled with wonderful smells and delightful treasures spread around the house – in every nook and cranny. I must say that you have outdone me and that is alright. This Christmas I am fortunate enough to live through those Christmas dreams by sharing in your special time. Thank you for sharing each and every one of the marvelous treasures and sights with all of us. I can just about smell those cookies baking! Have fun with the Yankee group. What a thrill. I love your tree. XXXXOOOO

  44. judi says:

    Woo hoo, did I read they are coming back today? You are a waaaay to interesting and talented person to possibly capture in ONE day:) Another delightful day to you and Joe!

  45. Vicki in Cincy says:

    Hi Susan…As I was reading back over the comments from the girlfriends, I noticed my post is still awaiting moderation. Something must have happened in cyberspace and my comments are somewhere hanging over Lake Michigan. LOL. Love ya Girlfriend!

  46. BONNIE SHUCK says:

    Oh, what fun it will be to be published in Yankee! My daughter Jessica just had a project published in the newest Cricut publication. What fun it was to be in Joanns, and she found it!!!! The most fun for this Grandma was to see her beautiful grandson Mason James right there in print. Needless to say it is sitting on my coffee table. Needless to say my sisters will all have to see it tomorrow on our sisters craft day!
    I so love seeing your posts! Brightens my day every time. Love, B

  47. Edie Olson says:

    Thank you so much for your inspiration. Can hardly wait to try these yummy looking cookies. You have a gift that you keep on sharing. It’s a blessing to those of us waiting to see what you are going to do next.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m afraid after today it’s all going to look boring! :-)

      • Judy Young says:

        What you might think of as boring, the girlfriends think of as inspirational! We are so looking forward to seeing the rest of the house looking unusually “picture perfect”. You should do your own photos and have them made into a calendar for next year! I know I would buy one! You always have such delightful decorations for each season (inside and outside). Imagine…March illustration could be the clothes blowing on the clothesline in the garden (from your blog). It would be very special and unique and your fans would love it! We are so proud of you and Joe, Jack and Kitty for being chosen for the shoot for Yankee Magazine. They could not have found anyone more worthy.

        My neighborhood alert just put up a photo of a 2-yr old Tuxedo black and white kitty named Trinket (girl), They cannot get their existing cat to get along with her and are reluctantly giving her away to a deserving person. They said she loves to play and be wherever you are. Sounds and looks a little like Jack! How I wish I could take her….but my husband says no…………….

        • sbranch says:

          One time I had a husband (not Joe) who I thought might balk if I got a new kitty. So I got it anyway, because I just couldn’t help myself, and it lived in the house for a whole week before he saw it! :-) Then one day he was laying on the sofa in the kitchen, and out from the pillow came this little white fluff ball. He wasn’t thrilled, but he wasn’t too bad about it and in my heart of hearts, since I REALLY wanted that Kitty, I didn’t care. Of course that marriage was doomed anyway. So it turns out I made the right decision! :-) Mindy was her name.

  48. Pat Williams says:

    love your pictures and can hardly wait for the rest! would LOVE to have white rug, slipcovers, etc., but with my 70 pound boxer, Cody,…and his big old feet, i’m afraid it would not be that way long! and afterall, it IS his house! i’m just “allowed” to live there with him! haaaa people tell me to buy him one of those cute fluffy dog beds…..my response is WHY? he has a huge chair, couch, TWO huge ottomans and two beds!

  49. willemien says:

    Congratulations Kathy! You’re so lucky! Hope you’ll have a wonderfull Christmas.
    And Susan: Good Luck with your Yankee-photo shoot! Your house looks so cosy, with the lights up in the tree, and I can just almost smell those delicious cookies of yours. I’ve been baking some easy recipe-cookies in the shape of STARS, with my four year old daughter and three year old son, they loved it.(and so did I,…flour everywhere…)
    I’m wishing you a very merry warm and COSY CHRISTMAS with your loved ones, Susan!
    Love from Holland!
    Willemien (ps I’m happy to say that my hubby has recovered from his flu)

  50. Sharon Fritz says:

    Susan,
    You’re house looks absolutely beautiful, I love old houses. When I got to the last picture I couldn’t help laughing at Jack, how in the world did he get up there. He is just too cute!
    Sharon Fritz

  51. JudyCnNC says:

    I subscribed to the Yankee Magazine so I could see your picture coverage “next year” …. count me a true follower. LoL … I also am sooooo glad I ordered a Peppermint Covered Tea cup – just did not think my chances were very good with over 4000 comments. I would be really old before I could win anything and I realllllly loved that teacup. Have fun and surround yourself with our good wishes. Judy C

    • sbranch says:

      You were so smart . … We can get more but they won’t come in until after Christmas and I’m not sure people are going to want them then, so I’m not quite sure what to do!

  52. Janet G says:

    Congratulations to lucky Kathy! Your house looks awesome! Can’t wait to try the cookie recipe. Thanks!

  53. stephanie says:

    Congratulations Kathy O!! I’m so happy for you. Let’s hope this is a sign of better days to come for you! Enjoy it!

  54. Linda says:

    My daughter has a huge paper assigned, so for a break I showed her your post. It is so hilarious!…Vanna, the four stages of life, ‘crumby’ frying pans, and that picture of Jack in front of the tree…we laughed our heads off. Thank you for entertaining us!

  55. ms nj says:

    Hi Susan! Your tree is BEAUTIFUL! What type is it? Did you trim it ? You did a fantastic job decorating it! Thank you for sharing it with us! Merry Christmas!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh thank you! It’s a Balsam … Joe did the lights, I did the ornaments, then Joe moved the ornaments and I moved them back. So I guess we did it together! :-) Merry Christmas Ms NJ!

  56. Stephanie D says:

    Holy cow – these cookies are awesome!

  57. Marion Frazer says:

    Susan,
    Would you please tell us how long the croutons will stay edible once you’ve stored them in the glass jars?

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve never had them long enough for them to go bad, and I’ve kept them fairly long. They last quite a while. But you will know, if they start not smelling right …

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