HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

HAPPY NEW YEAR GIRLFRIENDS!!!  Inserting my New Year Song for you …. What are doing tonight?  I’ll see you soon … I’ve been working hard on our book!  Happy 2013 to us, one and all!!! XOXO

 I thought, on this Christmas Eve, I would love to talk about Home and what it means to me.  When I was thirty-three, I moved to Martha’s Vineyard from California, and bought my first house. Musica?

Having a little house of my own was something I had dreamed of since I was a child.

It was a very small house, which I wrote about and painted often, even in my first book, but it was perfect for me.  I lived there alone with my three kitties for six years, learning what it was like to have seasons; I wrote my first three books at the dining room table in this house.  I know just how Natalie Wood felt in Miracle on 34th Street. I almost saw Santa’s cane in the corner at Holly Oak when I went in the first time.

The house was in the woods; every day I would walk out the door and down the dirt road next to the house to the water, to the same pond Joe and I walk past every morning now; our walk takes us to the other shore of that same pond.  Yes, the house had a name, Holly Oak, on a sign, nailed to a tree, and to me, it was a dream come true.  I was so grateful, I really haven’t ever “wanted” anything since, because right then I knew, I had it all.  Inside, “out of the wind and the rain’s way,” I could live my little life, plant my garden, feed the birds, make noodles and pie, read my books, raise my kitties to be fine strong young cats.  I felt safe there because no one could take it from me.  It was HOME.  I still have dreams about this little house. 

Since then have fallen in love with all houses!   And anything attached to them, like children, neighborhoods, porches, gardens, kitties, dogs, squirrels, birds, trees, fences, and I take pictures of them wherever I go.  I like big houses, but I like the little ones better.

A house represents family stability, but they seem to me to be filled with mystery. I think of them almost as a person, especially the old ones, imbued with the character of lives lived within; I’m pretty sure everything I do in my house adds another layer of character.  The newer ones, like my first little house, are like banks, and each holiday, each loving act, each cooking of a dinner, each creative thing done, even every sadness, is a contribution, so when the house is old, it will have character too. The feeding and care of a house is an important thing. Right now houses all over the country are being fed from the heart . . . with welcomes home!, crackling fires, music and colored lights, delicious smells coming from the kitchen, wrapping of gifts, families coming together, the light and excitement in the eyes of children . . . reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer there.  That’s what a house is to me. 

I’m sure pictures of houses like this were seeds of inspiration to bring me to New England.  This house speaks to me of love, comfort, safety, sturdiness, old quilts, corn pudding and pumpkin pie, tradition, surprises under the Christmas tree.  Old movies were such an influence on me, the curtains and wallpaper in the movie Dear Ruth, the cottages in Love Letters, Mrs. Miniver’s wonderful house, Diane Keaton’s house in Something’s Got to Give — her farmhouse in Baby Boom.  The way to sell me on a movie is to put a good house in it!

Look at the charm these people added to this plain little house.  It has to be love.

I take pictures of houses wherever I go, even speeding along on the train, through the window of our “room with a view” when Joe and I travel across the country.

Another photo I took through the train window, of this little neighborhood of colorful houses.  I see cup-a-sugar borrowing going on here. I keep waiting, when I show some of the pictures of the houses I love, for one of you to say, “Hey, that’s MY house!”  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised! ♥ 

I took lots of photos of darling cottages in England . . . this one has become a restaurant — don’t you just love restaurants in old houses?  New England has lots of them too.

I put a photo of  this house, which is next door to Jane Austen’s house in England (because how could I NOT!), on my blog, and Mary, the woman who lives there, DID contact me to say hello and tell me how surprised she was to see her house (and the closeup of her little dog. “Basil,” who was sitting in the window!).  The magic of the internet makes it such a small world.

Basil. English super dog.

There are two houses in this picture of our little cottage in California.

And this precious California house . . . I love festive people!

and of course, my own sweet home.

My love for home has branched out beyond actual houses or pictures of houses, to things that are like houses!

On top of my stove right now, I have two houses and a manger.

And this newest one, sent to me by the sweetest person, was added to the stove-top scene just yesterday!

And speaking of houses and home, I have shown you glimpses of my wood room before — it’s the smallest room in our house, a cozy room with wood walls, hence the name “wood room.”  It’s where we read, write letters, knit, talk on the phone, watch TV; where I update my diary at night…

. . . but it’s a little hard to photograph, which is the reason I’ve never tried to show it to you . . . it’s so dark, and the flash brings too much glare . . . so forgive the color here.  There’s something about this room you may not have noticed, but I’ve just given you two clues . . . do you see it yet?

OK, I’ll tell you . . . it’s just that all the pictures on the wall are of houses.  Homey homes, paintings and prints I have either done myself or collected in antique stores.

There are also old photos of the “house of creativity” I was grateful to receive from the previous owners when we moved in.  And when we go, we will leave these, with maybe a couple of our own.

So it’s clear, I’m house-crazy with love.  There are more pictures, above the hutch and on the other side of the door, but it’s too dark to see them … there’s also a small wood box, shaped like a house, where the roof opens, that I brought with me when I moved to the island; there’s house-shaped candle in there too . . .

Not that I really need very much to make the wood room cozy after this person settles in. 

Because there is nothing that cozies up a house more than a sweet little petty pet of one’s own.

So, of course, when I make a gingerbread house, it’s not very big and it’s not just a house, it’s a home.

These are dreams from my diary written (in the bad handwriting) long ago; I was just making a note.  Writing things down is a way to make them come true. A good way to start the new year.

And that dream, though not finished, is still in the process of coming true — so far, so good! So what would you think a person who was writing her first book in the firelight and Christmas-tree light inside this little house would decide to name it?  It would have to be something about the home.  And the kitchen, and the heart, and the connection between those things . . . of course! Heart of the Home!  Why didn’t I think of that?  Oh!  I did!

 You probably have everything you always wanted for Christmas right now, a little house of your own, out of the wind and the rain’s way.  But just in case . . . I have this book, and it’s looking for a new home!  So, if you don’t have my first book, or if you know someone you would like to give it to . . .  leave a comment!  There are lots of good recipes in there!  After the first of the year,  Vanna will draw a name, I will sign the book, and off it will go to the Heart of your Home.  You can leave as many comments as you like, because Vanna knows to only count each address once.  And I think I’ll come back every so often this week, and change the music, and give us a little musical tour.

And now?  Me and Jack?  We’re going to go cook up a storm.   Love and Blessings to you and yours and a wish for Peace for every little house on Earth.

Sending furry high fives. xoxo

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1,402 Responses to HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

  1. judy dunmire says:

    Your house story made me miss our old house – over 80 years old and full of many of our own family memories and the stories of previous owners! It was built for the old maid aunt of the bigger house next door on the corner. Love that cozy bungalow forever!!

  2. christine says:

    Christmas Blessings, dear Susan, and thank you for the joy you bring us!
    I would dearly love to add your first book to my collection!
    And, I can’t wait to add your newest book on your England trip to my collection!

  3. Carol C says:

    Someone mentioned favorite movie houses. I loved the house in the TV series ‘Family”. Tried to get it on netflix just to relive that house but they don’t seem to have it.

  4. Susan Martin says:

    I just finished watching Miss Potter, and was thoroughly enchanted! Thank you so much for the recommendation!

    Susan

    • sbranch says:

      So glad you enjoyed it … wasn’t the music beautiful when they danced together?

      • Susan Martin says:

        The music and the dance were beautiful – but so was her spirit and her friendship with Millie and her love of the Lake District…she was a pioneer of environmentalism, wasn’t she? This is a movie that I will buy and watch again and again…and of course, I’ll now start looking for all things Peter Rabbit!

  5. Priscilla Palmer from Naples, Florida says:

    Heart of the Home … the kitchen … if I were to be so fortunate as to win your book, I would give it to my daughter. She’s the real cook in the family; I’m the cleaner. When we cook together, I usually do the cleanup and advise the cleanup … :D

    Soon, I will move next door to my daughter, and, this may sound a bit odd, I would like to give her the Heart of the Home as a housewarming gift. By living next door to each other, we’ll be warming the hearts of both homes with meals we’ll prepare together, the graces we’ll say around the table, and the happiness shared by all within the walls.

    PS. I love the “wood” room; it’s very cozy and homey and just right. <3

  6. Patricia Doughty says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love your posts. You put into words how I feel about things!
    I, too, love to photograph houses! Even abandoned ones! I like to imagine
    the happy Christmases that might have been. Children playing, dogs
    barking and maybe even a kitten or two:)
    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
    Happy New Year!
    It would be a treat to receive a signed copy of your book!

  7. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan and Joe……..just thinking of you two and wanted to wish you a Very, Very Happy New Year filled with all good things. May health and happiness be yours. With luv, Gail & Joe Buss, Fl XXOO

  8. judy young says:

    I just realized that I have two copies of Christmas Joy by Susan Branch. I don’t think it is out of print, but if it is and you would like it, please email me.
    Just pay shipping! Happy 2013!

  9. Barbara says:

    Happy New Year to you and Joe! I would love to start the new year off with a signed copy of your first book! What a treat that would be. I love your blog and look forward to every new entry. We (my husband of 39 years and 4 months) just returned from a week in Mendocino, crashing waves, windy, stormy, fireplace days and some days of crisp clear days to walk along the bluffs. But as we turned the corner and came up on our little house I said to Tom, “there’s no place like home” LOL. I love my house and as great a week as we just had it’s so good to be here!

  10. I am wondering if anyone else has had a warning when going to Susan’s
    Twitter ? I just clicked over to it and my Mac won’t let me because it says there is Malware…grrrr!

    Susan, I just noticed how many homes are in the pictures I have collected over the years!!
    I have enjoyed knowing that I can go to your blog and you, along with the other Girlfriends, will have something to say that picks me up when needed, or gives me an idea!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, that’s how I found out about mine, suddenly I looked, and just gradually, over the years, I seemed to have gathered pictures of houses! I went to Twitter, and just fyi, it was normal for me…this is the link HAPPY NEW YEAR Patty!

  11. Allison says:

    I love the photo of you at your first house. So charming! Happy new year!

  12. Sarah says:

    Oh Susan. Your Christmas Eve posting so warmed my heart! Thank you thank you for all the good you’re putting out there! Sarah

  13. Tammy says:

    I love the ’40s decor of old houses; don’t forget Dear Wife and Dear Brat to go along with Dear Ruth! I am a vintage gal and a love homemaking, I only work to pay for my vintage collections!

  14. Miriam from Finland says:

    Dear Vanna,

    I don’t know how to put this, but I trust in your ultimate understanding in all things human…
    I’ve been thinking back and fort should I just comment or should I also email Susan to let her know how much I’ve been enjoying her blog (yes, I have cried too, some of the quotes and her words just hit too close, in a good way), which is all I have from her, and now we get to the point: I have to act (= comment) now, because the deadline is lurking behind the next curve, to be able to participate this drawing. I have to work on the e-mail more, to choose the right words, so I’ll send it later.

    I don’t have any of her books, and I cannot buy any now, so please Vanna, is it my turn to be picked this time?

    Ps. I thought you’d like to know something… When I was a child, a bathtub was called ‘vanna’ in Finnish. What a coincidence! :-D

  15. Brenda Bakker says:

    Dear Susan, Just a note to wish you a happy new year & to say thank you for being a bright spot in my day. You seem to say the things I’m thinking or feeling so eloquently so I thank you. I so much appreciate your words and your art. Brenda

  16. Chiqui Millan says:

    Thank you so much!!! Reading your blog sure made me re-think n be more grateful for everything i do have!It’s been a tuff year for a lot of us, but God’s good n mercyful.Some how we’ve been able to keep our home and.. even enjoy the holidays, sitting by the fire, watching our two kids laugh and be silly!!!
    ..I too dream of houses..i dream of having a cute lil house,w/a beautiful little garden..where my Mother could come live w/me,and i could take care of her, now that she’s feeling weak& a bit tired!
    I also dream of a Home w/enough room for caring& feeding the homeless..&the abandoned n neglected animals in the town i live in.
    For now,Im very happy where i am! I have a place to call HOME! I’ve been very blessed! And like Susan said ”That will not stop me from dreaming .. i will continue to work hard, cuz i do wanna see those dreams come true”<3

  17. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Hi Susan * December 31…2012 @ 12:12 AM * Pacific Time

    “Home for Christmas”…a delightful new Post.

    No, Susan, I am sad to say, I don’t have your sweet book, “Heart of The Home”. If my name is chosen, what a wonderful way to begin the New Year!
    Thank you for sharing a copy of your very first book.

    “Home For Christmas”…
    There are poems written and songs sung and movies seen, all about “I’ll be Home For Christmas”, “Coming Home For Christmas” and even “There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays”, and now your lovely new Post is part of that wonderful list.

    It’s filled with pictures of charming and extra-special homes.
    I truly believe, and not just at Christmastime, but all the time…that whether you live in a home on a vineyard island, a home in the country, a home by a lake, a home/apartment in the city, a home on the range, a cottage by the sea or a townhome on the top of a mountain… Home is where the Heart is!

    Happy New Year to You and Joe.
    Happy New Year Girlfriends…to all of you and yours…
    From me and mine…
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  18. Kirsten Anne Wichert of So. Calif.` says:

    I do believe that’s the first I’ve ever seen of your “wood room”. It looks quite cozy, especially with Girl Kitty and Jack snuggling on the back of the sofa! One of my cats passed away recently. Now the back of my couch is lopsided! I do have one kitty left to keep me company, and I am grateful for her.

    We’ve had below freezing nights here recently. Now it REALLY feels like winter! I love it! All my quilts are out. I hope it lasts a little longer.

    Happy New Year to everyone!!!

  19. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Happy New Year to you too Dear Susan & Joe & Kitties & All! Love the “New Year’s Eve” song! Thank you! Keep on paintin’ & writin’ my dear, we’re so excited & lookin’ forward to “our” new book! Love & Hugs!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s going so good Joanie! Writing all the part about the Lake District and Beatrix Potter now, such a fun thing to do. Off to York soon! Thank you.. happy New Year!

      • Karen P. - Green Bay, WI says:

        My fav part of our trip in 2010 was the Lake District….Windermere….Hilltop….Yew Tree Farm….can’t wait to see the book!!!

  20. Georgie says:

    Happy New Year Susan! When all is said and done, and the last of our 366 days has passed… we find ourselves bursting at the seams with gratefulness. In spite of struggles, we count the JOYS, and realize there were soooo many BLESSINGS in 2012, we do indeed need a NEW YEAR to begin gathering what lies ahead!

    Thanks for being so much a part of my 2012! Much Love and Joy to You and Joe and the “kids” in 2013!

    XOXO
    Georgie
    Yardville, NJ

  21. Rhonda D. says:

    Happy New Year to you Susan and Joe and the kitties. Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas holiday. Ours has been very busy, lots of traveling, but very Christmasy. We have snow here in the maritimes…up past my knees on our back deck, probably half way up my thighs. This year I received the movies Miss Potter and Christmas in Connecticut, and the Dean Martin CD with “It’s A Marshmallow World” on it. Very special gifts indeed. Thank you for the ideas. We’ve watched Miss Potter twice already. Wishing each and every girlfriend a very Happy New Year. And as my Scottish grandad would say, “Lang may yerrr lum reek!” (Long may your chimney smoke).

  22. Deb says:

    When we first married we lived in a small apartment. We saved our money and three years later we built our first little starter home. It was great! But my husband gets transferred a lot with his job, so soon we were building another home, and another home, and yet another home. Every time we moved we built a new home…and I think I can safely say that we’re in our last home where he will retire. I love it here because I can see mountains (the Alleghenies) out my front windows and mountains (the Blue Ridge) out my back. Today it is a winter wonderland.

    Loved your post Susan, and I’d love to own your very first book!

    • sbranch says:

      I bet you’re getting good at house building! I’ve built a few myself, the first one had a green tile fireplace (to match Christmas) — I got better at it the next time! :-)

  23. Deb says:

    Susan, my comment is blackened out, and I can’t see it. :(

  24. Joan says:

    Susan,

    I love houses too. One of my favorite things about this time of year is seeing into homes while they are decorated for the holidays. I think people just leave the curtains & blinds open so the tree can be seen and I love to look as we drive by.
    I would love to have your book–I looked and I don’t have this one.

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      i love driving by homes and looking during the fall, just when it starts to get dark and the lights are going, i love seeing the people in their kitchens whipping up dinner and sitting at the table. gives off such a warm and homey glow.

  25. Colleen says:

    So glad I took the time to sit and visit with your blog this morning. Always nice to sit a spell and catch up! Have a blessed and happy new year!

  26. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Hope you have a wonderful New Year!
    :-)
    Joy

  27. Sheila Weakley says:

    Just now getting around to reading this one-it was 5 degrees here this morning, so I am cozied up to the fireplace heater with a cup of hot tea! I just want to hug your kitties, i miss my kitty so much! Our house is missing its pet! Surprising how something so small can leave such a big emptiness! Give the kitties a hug from me!

  28. Lori from Maine says:

    Good morning Susan and all the girlfriends. We have SNOW :) It’s so beautiful right now – sunny, clear blue sky. The first storm that passed through was torrential rain and left us with about 2″ of snow. But…this weekend was the biggie – we have about 10″ of new snow! Hubby wasn’t too thrilled about shoveling, but it’s so pretty – especially with the just past full moon last night! The birds are happy today. Cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, doves and more. They look so pretty on the white snow.
    Happy New Year to you, Joe, the kitties and the girlfriends.
    xoxox from Mt. Desert Island, Maine

  29. Patty in Redlands says:

    Dear Susan,
    I have loved your books for a long time and now am an ardent follower of your blog. I’ve used you, Susan, as an important resource to build a cheerful, beautiful, homey environment for family, friends, and myself. That’s what HOME is to me ~ the setting for happiness and love. You have always been inspirational, and I thank you for sharing your talents, ideas, and love!

    When I worked as a teacher (retired now), I made my classroom as homey as possible for the comfort and security it brought my students, their parents, and me too. Always had lamps, tablecloths, music, good smells, cheerful colors and displays. Those of us that love HOME can bring that feeling just about anywhere. You continue to show us that it doesn’t take expensive or elaborate things to get that feel.

    Thank you and looking forward to seeing who Vanna chooses to gift with your book!

  30. Pollyanna Leggett says:

    Happy New Year ! 2013 will be a wonderful year, I can feel it! Your house is divine!! Your blogs are scrumptious and I can only imagine what a festive Christmas time it is inside your house! My English Mother in Law is here visiting and she made me keep my tree up as they celebrate Epiphany till the 6 th of January. A festival in Christianity celebrating the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus. Epiphany means “a showing forth” in this case a showing forth of Jesus to the Gentiles. Meaning He came not only for the Jews. Anyways she is a Reverand at an Episcopal Church. So I learn a lot from her about things like this that I didn’t grow up with or know about. It’s neat! Tonight we will have a few friends over to drink Champagne and play Balderdash……which if you haven’t played, YOU MUST! It’s a riot! Have a bunch of friends over and play this game Susan! But be careful not to pee your pants from laughing so hard! We named our home Dalwhinnie (Scottish Gaelic: Dail Chuinnidh) “Meeting Place”. also a fine single malt scotch whiskey if you are into that sort of thing. Anyways my point is that we entertain Alot! Our house is small but very quaint and eclectic and we love to share it with people and its our mission to be the glue that keeps our friends together. We go through these times when we rarely see eachother due to life, so we gather them all in and make the time to enjoy one another. My husband and I believe that friendship is of the UTMOST importance!! So that being said, Enjoy your New Years hopefully with wonderful friends! Take Care Susan Joe and kitties :)xoxoxoxo

  31. Marcia in Brazil says:

    I adore this song! Happy new year, Susan, family, kittens and girlfriends!

  32. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Happy New Year Susan!! Yay, 2013 will bring us your new book!!! I cannot wait.
    Finding this blog and connecting with you and all of the other wonderful girlfriends has been one of the best blessings for me in 2012. Thanks for so many thoughtful and fun posts!

  33. Dorothy says:

    I love your “little house in the woods” where you started out your new life…looks like a doll’s house and a happy house. I don’t have your first book but would love to have it. I have one question…How do you keep Jack and Girl Kitty from eating and/or destroying your decorations? I’ve always had a cat and anything within reach seems to be fair game…and my cat can reach just about everything.
    Take care and have a wonderful New Year!

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

    hello, good morning susan, girlfriends. just popped in to wish everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. i hope its a healthy, happy, proserous and peaceful new year for everyone. still battling that varmint that has been after my chickens. hopefully we can catch it tonight and get rid of it once and for all. Happy New Year everyone. hugs…. :)

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      i could use some help solving this mystery about type varmint this is, if anyone has any ideas, i’d love to hear them.

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        Hi Pat~
        A friend of mine used to have ducks and her problem was weasels.
        Any chance that could be the problem?
        ~ Good Luck & Happy New Year!~
        Lynn

  35. Laura says:

    Please Vanna, pull my name out! My new home has more bookshelves than I have books (1st time for everything), so this book can have a place of honor!

  36. Rae Ann from northern Michigan...now in Minnesota... says:

    Happy Happy New Year Susan and Joe…I am hoping you have snow and are cozily enjoying your beautiful home…Here’s to a fantastic 2013…xoxo…

  37. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    Hello Susan~~~ Happy New Year’s Eve morning~~~

    I’m really looking forward to the new year (2013)!! I just love new starts and this coming year will be a very good year for new starts. First off, tomorrow, January 1 will be my first day of not eating snacks. Will also be sure to go to exercise class each weekday. I want to look my best for summer this coming year. Have clothes that I haven’t been able to wear for the past 2 summers and I’m determined to be able to wear them this coming year!!!

    Another new thing for me is banking online. I’ve been afraid to start doing that, but I’m making the plunge and hope for the best.

    Looking forward to your new book. This will be a first for me. I plan on going to Amazon.com and looking up all your previous books.

    Have a great New Year’s Eve with the family (pets included)… they are part of the famiy of course. Looking forward to a new blog !

    Carol M

    P.S. Happy New Year to all the ‘girlfriends’ out there!!!!!!

  38. Susan in Tennessee says:

    Happy new year! Can’t wait for the release of your newest book about England!

  39. Happy Holidays from one ‘Susan’ to another! I, too, have a love of a sweet home and I name mine. The one I’ve lived in for 22 years now is a redone beach house from years past and I’ve named it “Sweet Repose”. I always feel safe and warm and it is always where I want to be. I would love, love, love to have a signed book of yours. Cherish! Happy New Year to you and yours.
    Susie

  40. Brenda Bakker says:

    I tried to post last night but evidently was too tired and made so many mistakes, I finally decided to wait until morning. We had just returned home after visiting out of state family for the holidays. We had a wonderful time but as Dorothy said in “The Wizard of Oz”, “There’s no place like home!” When I read your blog, I just sighed deeply and just took it all in. Although we’ve never owned our own home, the houses that God has provided for us throughout ministry have truly been home. We are so thankful and have been blessed in each one! Thank you for your art and thoughts, Susan. They are always a bright spot in my day! Brenda

  41. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Hi Susan. I’m trying again. Wrote this earlier and it is still sitting “awaiting moderation”… Dawn of Minnesota phoned me and said their cable is down so they are without computer or TV. She asked if I would write in FOR her so she could get in the drawing. So, can you put HER name in the bowl for when Vanna draws? Thanks. :-)

  42. Sandy Richmond says:

    Happy New Year Susan and girlfriends! Cold here and snow everywhere. I am staying home and ringing in the New Year with my hubby..

  43. Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

    Love that song! What are YOU two doing tonight?
    Our family all left today…what a glorious 2 weeks it has been! The house is so sadly quiet right now as I put bedrooms back together and pick up toys. Time to regroup and just bask in the joy of our Christmas memories. George and I are going to get a bite to eat and see Lincoln tonight and then get back home early to welcome in the New Year.
    This house….this home….my grandparents lived here, I grew up here, I raised my family here and now we continue to live and gather here and welcome everyone home as often as possible. This beautiful, old house…it holds us and loves us.
    Blessings to you and those you love….Happy New Year!
    xoxoDebbie

  44. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    HAPPY, HEALTHY, SAFE, and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR WISHES TO ALL THE GIRLFRIENDS out there!!! Just checking in after the holiday excitement and now the last day of my vacation… Back to work tomorrow, but am enjoy our snowy day today here in southern Illinois!!

  45. Elaine in Toronto says:

    My New Year’s wish for you and Joe and Girl and Jack and all the people you love and all the people who love you is that 2013 have more heroes than villains, more adventure than drama and may love always win. Happy New Year.

  46. Karen Davidson says:

    Thank you for sharing the photo of your first home on Martha’s Vineyard. While I love your current home (it looks so welcoming), your first home looks so very cozy, just perfect for a lady starting a new chapter in her life along with her 2 furry angels.

  47. Karen P. - Green Bay, WI says:

    Happiest of New Year celebrations to you and Joe, Susan! May 2013 bring you much joy, happiness, success and overflowing love! xoxo

  48. Sharon says:

    I loved the picture of your first house on Martha’s Vineyard Susan, it just looks like “home” should look, warm and cozy, and the setting is so beautiful in the woods. I can’t imagine how it must have been for you moving clear across the country and I can’t wait to read all about it in your new book!

    I know exactly what you mean, too, about the feeling that home brings. We live in a small old cape in Maine built in 1759 and although it wasn’t in perfect shape when we bought it 5 years ago and probably never will be, the minute we walked through the door it just felt like we were home. You can almost feel all the love that’s been there. I’m always wondering about the people who have lived here over all these hundreds of years, all the laughter and the tears, the hard work they endured but all the happiness and love they must have had. Someday I’d like to try and do some research to see if I can find out some of the history and names of the people who lived in the house and make some kind of plaque to leave in the house for the next owners.

    Can you put me in for drawing of your book, I’d love to have one signed by you!
    Thanks Susan, your blog is always one of the the highlights in my day! xxxooo Sharon in Maine

  49. sandy says:

    Oh a Happy New Year to you Sister Susan! I love your “long-term” goals you set years ago. I’m happy for you that you are living them out, and that you share them with us. Makes me feel good inside. Here’s to a wonderful 2013! xoxo, sandy :)

  50. Julie Marie says:

    Happy New Year to you Susan, and to Joe and Girl Kitty and Jack Kitty!… just a quiet evening at home tonight with our girl Tessy (our English Pointer who we rescued last year)… hot chocolate, some soft music and to bed early… but not before I get all of my Susan Branch calenders out for tomorrow… yay!… and I just got my “Days” book in the mail so I am good to go!… much love to you, Joe and the kitties!!!… xoxo Julie Marie PS Does Jack have any special plans for tonight… hanging from a chandelier or anything?… just wonderin’…

  51. Genevieve Lopez says:

    Here is praying for a Healthy, Blessed and Happy New Year to you and your dear furry ones. I am so happy right now cause a few days ago and found three out of four of your books online and they are on their way to me now. Hope The Vanna picks me!

  52. Judy in A.G. says:

    I spent today putting away my Christmas stuff and, after my husband brought in my new “Susan” calendars from the mail, I realized how much you have become part of our holiday. Your Christmas books spend the month sitting on my coffee table because they look so cheery. I have a bird tree, too. Only it’s the big one in the living room, filled with bird-related ornaments I have collected over 30 years. Small stuffed felt stars and hearts appliqued with tiny birds, that I bought at your store here in town hang there every year. Your Cranberry Apple Crisp is our favorite holiday dessert. I made a batch of your Spiced Pecans to go in our salad just last night. You must be part of Christmas in homes all over the world. Does that just amaze you?

  53. Sweet post Susan. Please write more about how you came to live on MVI. Such a big move from one coast to the other. I look forward to your new book, lots of chats about things we all love, and learning more about you and all the friends of SB.

    Happy New Year everyone–

  54. Happy New Year Susan,
    I have 3 cats and and they are just like little toddlers in their personalities. When my daughter graduated to heaven and my son married and moved to another state, my cats became the children in the empty nest.
    Your story touched me a great deal because as a little girl I wanted the little cottage with a white picket fence. I love pictures of cottages…and bungalows, any quaint, loved, and cozy home. I THINK A HOUSE DRAWS YOU…IT KNOWS YOU WILL LOVE IT and put pretty lace at the windows…well you know, you are so adorable…they broke the mold when you were born.
    It has been a pleasure to talk with you this New Year EVE, and I would really like to win your book…badly.
    hugs
    Simply Debbie

  55. Gillian says:

    Your book would be lovely to own. Happy New Year.

  56. Heather says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  57. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 to all the girlfriends, Susan, Joe and Kitties! You have made a difference to me! New year’s resolution = be as positive as Susan Branch!

  58. RoseBean says:

    Thank You for sharing from your Heart. We Feel the Love you put into your words, drawings and All you Do. Thank You (((((HUGSS))))) My husband got me both of your calendars for gifts this year! I do enjoy all you put into making it such fun to turn the calendar to enjoy looking at all the art work and doodles and sweet notes that you put there to make us Smile. They bring warmth to our Home. May God Bring you a wonderful Year and fill it with Great Memories and Lot’s of Smiles.

  59. It’s 2013 there.. Happy New Year Susan, Joe, Girl, and Jack who makes us giggle! Have a Wonderful Year!!!!

  60. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    I don’t do anything on New Year’s Eve as I can’t manage to stay awake. However, I do telephone my family and friends on New Year’s Day to wish them a very happy and healthy New Year by telephone and FaceTime. So that is what I am doing now on your blog to wish you and the girlfriends a very happy and healthy New Year.

  61. Geneva says:

    Good morning! What a blessing to wake up early this morning and read your blog. After reading so many of the comments, I do believe that you bring out the best in us. Thank you for making my days feel so much cozier.

  62. Barb, EW ...CT says:

    Happy New Year Susan,

    Oh I love your “homey” post. My favorite home was the one I grew up in. It was a white “Stucco” cape….set way back off the road behind pine trees. We (our family) had four acres of land. It was a magical place. We had enough yard to play any type of sport, a garden so huge with everything you could think of. Woods to explore, trees to climb and fields next to our home to go sledding on.
    In the summertime we had so many picnics, outdoor cinderblock fireplace…many fun times spent toasting marshmallows, and then watching fireworks on our frontlawn every Fourth Of July. We also had three (highblueberry bushes) with a plethra of blueberries to make lots of homemade goodies and to share. My parents were all about sharing and kindness. I lived there till my early thirties as well then married and moved to MA where my husband lived. We rented also and then we ended up with his family home built in the 1800′s a working dairy farm at one time. Of course by the time we got the house it was much different but we lived there many a year till it was sold. Then we rented again and now we are here in CT house sitting. We chose to move due to my husbands job, but we miss MA and so after the house sitting is over we are looking to find a small home with a barn and a tad of land.
    I so love this post with every little house and big one you shared. The pictures of you to are so nice. I admire you for all your hard work each and every day and how you lift all our spirits up no matter what we all have going on in our own lives, its so comforting to have you in ours. I so would love your Heart of HOme book. Yet …..just to have your blog each and every day is a Gift Well Cherished!
    Hugs & Smiles Barb:)

  63. Marjorie from PA says:

    Thank you Sue for reminding us just how special “home” can be! My first viewing of our house was by flashlight because there was no electricity. There had been a fire in the kitchen and all the drywall had been removed due to smoke damage. All that was left were the studs dividing the rooms and blackened floors. Peering through the darkness I knew at first glance it was going to become home for our family. Twenty-six years later I cherish the warm memories of our children and the laughter that filled our lives. And now the journey continues as grandchildren come to visit and make memories with us!
    Happy New Year!
    Marjorie

  64. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    How do you always know just what I love to hear about! I love “visiting” other peoples homes, either by invitation, driving by, or viewing in a movie. I’ve been know to grab a movie off the shelf to watch, just because I love the house in it! Somethings Gotta Give is a favorite of mine too, a gorgeous house! When a friend or family member moves away, I can’t wait to visit, because I love to picture people rambling around in their home, living life. And museums are a favorite. Walking through someones home, seeing how they lived many, many years ago, so fun. I think one of my favorite house’s will always be my great aunts. Her sweet husband built it for her. It was tiny. You walked in through the living room, kept going straight ahead, and walked through a bedroom, and on through the kitchen, etc. One room right after the other. I heard it was called a shotgun style, because you could look in the front door, and see all the way to the back door. No one ever complained about bumping into each other in the kitchen. And in her tiny bathroom, she had a claw foot tub! I loved to take a bath there. So many wonderful memories from my childhood happened in her tiny, loving home.

    • sbranch says:

      Our house is like that in a couple of the rooms upstairs … Where you have to walk through a room to get to the next room, no hall! I love it too!

  65. Charlotte says:

    Dear Susan,
    My mouth almost fell open when I read of your love of houses and delight in taking pictures of them, because I share those same favorites. Our last house had charming “house” wallpaper with a border of a country town. I collected little house decor and my husband has been so kind through the years to slow down or stop as i try to catch a picturesque home, barn or antique “house with potential”, especially farmhouses. Keep enjoying making a house a home and your dear family. I will dream of buying one of your books this year, finally! May the Lord bless you.

  66. bobbie says:

    What is there not to love about HOME. Last night I was at a New Year’s eve party and my friends were commenting on the fact that I was never a career girl but always a home girl. Best compliment ever.

  67. Sue U. says:

    Happy New Year to you and yours from snowy Minnesota!!! I am still high on Christmas spirit. I will keep most of my decor up until after Valentine’s Day, can’t bear to pack it away. And all my Leo Smith collection of Santas are mostly RED so it’s ok, isn’t it?? I have just run across The Summer Book on Amazon. So excited…not sure if I’ll keep it myself or share it with a best friend who is crazy, wild over you, too…. Time will tell. I have two copies of More from the Heart of the Home but how exciting wouldn’t it be to have the first one published??!!! Vanna, please draw my name, pretty, pretty please.

  68. Sue U. says:

    I’m kind of new to posting on your website. What does that mean when it says: “awaiting moderation”?? Do I need to shorten my message?

    • sbranch says:

      It just means it’s waiting for me to read it and “approve” it — my blog gets a lot of spam, so that’s the way it has to be done … and sometimes I don’t get right to it. Your message is just fine… I’m just late!

  69. Connie Haltermann says:

    Hi Susan,
    Well, here it is, New Year’s Day, and it’s time to start my new calendars!
    Every Christmas my husband Jim gives me two of your calendars–the wall calendar that always hangs in our kitchen, and the little one that always hangs on a hook on our ‘fridge. The little one is our Yearly Planner. It is a horrible mess when the year ends, because every appointment, every birthday, every special event, every task assigned, is written down as though cast in stone (until it is scribbled out or changed). When I get up every morning, I look to see what we have to do or where we have to go. We would be lost without this most important guide, because as it is, no one ever has to make a courtesy call to remind us of anything!
    The larger calendar is just for me. On the first day of each month I turn the page and take in all the delicious artwork and poetry and prose–and then I can start the month. At year’s end (because it has remained pristine), this calendar takes its place with all the other of your wall calendars and books in our bookcase. I don’t think I could part with any of them, ever. (I can’t wait for your new book to come out. We visited London on a European trip this year, and I so wish we could have stayed in England longer to visit the North District. Oh well, I did visit it vicariously through your blog, did I not? At any rate, your new book will help seal the memories until, perhaps, we can go there for real.)
    I have had a joyful life with Jim for 52 years, but you, because you are you, have added much joy and color and inspiration to my life as well. I LOVE your blog! Thank you for adding so many extra smiles along the way.
    Happy New Year!

  70. Robynn says:

    I have been buying your calendars for several years, this is the first time I have come to your website. Lovely. I love houses too. Its fun to envision who lives in them, what have the houses seen, um. Thank you.

  71. Cissy Bottomly says:

    Happy New Year Sue,. and thanks for all you do. You are such an inspiration, above anyone on this planet, for sure.

  72. gail says:

    Dear Susan,
    I purchased a copy of your book many, many years ago when I moved into my home in southern NH. I fell in love with Heart of the Home the minute I spotted the cover in a bookstore and was smitten with your artwork and writing as soon as I opened it. Somehow and at sometime I lost that copy or gave it away. It would be wonderful to have another copy autographed by you that I could someday pass along to my daughter.
    It must have taken so much courage to move across the country to a small island in New England. I really admire you for that and wish I had that kind of confidence.
    Gail :)

  73. Patricia Cash says:

    Susan, I just want to thank you for all of your beautiful writtings and photos
    you have posted in the past year and for the trip to England which you shared
    so graciously with us all. That is the only way I will ever see that country.
    And I want to thank you for your encouragement for us to “DREAM”. in the
    coming year. I can’t wait to get your book. It will be my first.
    Blessings for the new year.
    Patricia

  74. Audrey Patterson says:

    Thank you for all the inspiration you have given to me this year and may God richly bless you and yours as you continue to inspire so many people. What a legacy you will leave this world, it is a more beautiful place, because you care to make it so, or help and encourage us to see it as such. God sees.

    Blessings from Canada
    Bernice

  75. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Carol C~I, too, loved that house on Family. I love the kitchen and the back staircase. I love kitchen’s with an outside door. I would love to see that show again as well. Thanks for the sweet memory, Carol.

    Bliss!
    Marie xo

  76. I still have dreams about the house I grew up in. I’m the only one that does. Most of the time I’m in present time but my daughter will be at different ages. I have dreams that I plan on living there or that I go and see it with new owners in the house. Last time I saw this house was a few years ago. I drove by to show where I grew up. Memories of times past are so important and I think they mold how we continue in life.

  77. Bettina (Berlin 42) says:

    “The way to sell me on a movie is to put a good house in it!”

    I feel excatly the same!!!

    Have a good new year and take care

    Best regards from Berlin (D) from Bettina

    • sbranch says:

      Like the movie Atonement. I waited through the whole thing for the house to come back. Now I will only watch it up to the end of the scenes in the house, because the rest of it is so bleak and sad and houseless.

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