HYGGE for the HOLIDAYS

First, MUSICA, and second… Hello All💞, and third, I thought I would talk about this thing that’s very popular in Europe (and probably all over) right now called Hygge ~ While we were traveling I would walk into a bookstore in Great closet Music christmas falalalala (cropped!)(great and wonderful) Britain, and invariably, on the front table would be six different books, all with some cozy atmospheric picture of H💟ME on the cover and called some variation of “HYGGE,” which makes sense when you find out Hygge is Danish for “cozy.” So I checked it out and it’s pronounced “HYU-gah,” but I like to pronounce it “HUG,” since the word embraces (so to speak) the entire spirit of Hygge. We’ve had Hygge for a long time around here too, but we’ve called it other things … the way my mom said it was,little-things

And sometimes it’s known as Living the Dream; or Having it All; or Living Large; or The Pursuit of Happiness; and let’s not forget . . .

derelict wordsOh yeah. It’s all about making a world of Contentment in your own

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Unfortunately, we can’t control what goes on in the outside world, which seems to get more ridiculously uncontrollable every day, but we CAN control what goes on in our own homes ~ whether it’s one room, an apartment, or a mansion. Hygge has nothing to do with money, it’s an equal opportunity bringer of joy.word shell summer

Hygge is a state of mind and a recognizing that what you seek, you already have. I’ve perfected my Hygge in rented rooms and tiny apartments when I was younger. I make it every time we travel in a small train compartment when I bring along my feather pillow, my comfy slippers, a new wonderful book to read, my electric kettle, my favorite cup, my favorite tea, and some homemade cucumber sandwiches. That’s Traveling Hygge, there’s more to it, but today we’re talking bout Hygge In-House. In YOUR house to be exact!inspirationThere are a thousand ways to Hygge yourself, and if you’ve been hanging around this Blog long enough, you know that’s mostly what we love to talk about. How to make a Homemade Happy Life . . .homemade-happy-life

Over the years, I’ve recognized that most of the little things that make life wonderful are found in the same basic framework I use when I give a party: They always seem to appeal to one of the five senses, plus that magical sixth sense, the highly personal one called Good Housekeeping 1911-11“imagination.”  Because the senses are kind of your everything.  If they are constantly fed a diet of car exhaust, too many people at the mall, the dentist’s drill, fast food cheeseburgers, news of starving children, killer germs on the loose, and culture collapse, staring into your phone for hours on end, and perhaps a quick frisking at the airport, you are just not going to be happy! SO simple. You might have to go out and experience all of that, but then you can come home, where YOU are in charge. Whew. Look around your home. How does it feel? How does it sound? How does it look? How does it smell? How does it taste? Are there flowers, candles, a cozy throw for you, books, teacups? Is there toast and cheese? Are there pancakes? Is there pretty music that sends you to the moon?  Now for number six: see any whimsy, anything that only says YOU in all caps? The question is, does your house FEED you from the well of sweetness?

Little things in lifeHygge thyself!

health girlfriend how to be happy

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When it’s all rainy and gray outside . . .

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Make a fire or light a candle . . . light many candles!

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Lots of you know how much I love houses ~ I have one room where there are only paintings of houses on the walls. Over the years, when I’m out and about, I might see a little candle house, the one with the green roof is my newest in this long slow-growing collection. I found it in Scotland where so many of the real houses are white stucco. What could be more Hygge than a candle IN a house? It’s the Hyggiest! And long, and slow-growing? That’s Hygge too.hygge

Light the candles and then go make yourself a cup of tea, and cuddle up to watch an old movie . . .word winter fall recipe movie snow

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This is Audrey Hepburn and Gregory adorable Peck in Roman Holiday. Five Stars! I have a wonderful list of old movies that could keep a person busy and in Hygge City for a whole winter if they wanted!junetopartThis is the June page from my new 2017 wall-calendar and just a reminder, because the main thing about Hygge, as you can probably tell by just reading about it, it’s so HEALTHY! It doesn’t weigh you down, it makes you buoyant, up and ready to go! It’s priceless, and it’s a gift you can give yourself because it’s FREE!oh happy daylittlethingsthatmakelifesweetRead a book that will light your soul, send your heart to the moon, make tears flow down your cheeks, and inspire you to greatness. Read biographies about your heroes. I love reading about the life of Beatrix Potter because she makes me want to be a better person.💞

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I think it’s very Hygge to put dried flowers in her books . . .echoes-quoteimg_7280

Even housekeeping and doing laundry can be Hygge, if you wait a moment and let yourself SEE the before and afters . . . and just how pretty wrinkles and patterns can be, smell the cleanness, feel how organized you must be as you are hanging things to dry, there in the Village of Hygge, where you are in charge of your environment, and your environment is not in charge of you.CountingBlessings

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And how lovely it is to have your hands slippery in warm water caring for your things, washing them, loving them, making them last forever.  You can sing while you do it, and that will make the other people in the house happy too. Really, it will.🎵word home

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Pursuit of Happiness

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Luv-lee bubble baths, where all tensions rooooolllll away in the water . . . play the MUSICA! Because guess who’s in charge? You are!

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It’s hard to find words for how wonderful a little petty-pet can be, but I tried.

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Put something fun on the calendar, something to look forward to! Hygge is having a dream, and making it come true, even if it takes ten years!

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Make a picture wall in your bathroom.  It’s zen. No one wants to come out of my bathroom now! See HERE.timetodreamquote

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Have a Jane Austen tea party and Celebrate her birthday on December 16th, use her books as centerpieces, tell everyone to wear a hat … I have lots of recipes for delicious tea party food! (Just click on which recipe you’d like to have.)tea party

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There is also Doing Nothing that is totally Hygge, especially if you find you are doing too much: sleep in! Do it in the coziest flannel jammies you can find. Keep the room cold so you are cuddled under the covers. Moosh the pillow around your ears to keep them warm. Don’t laugh. This can be done! As my mother said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” Put it on your calendar if you have to!get-attachment-aspx

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This is Joe (look close to see him), enjoying the Hygginess of it all!

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This was the sky over our house this morning, after a few grey days and even some rain.  How heavenly is that?quotestars over our house

When I was little I used to go outside at night before bed, to look at the stars, and fill my lungs with a big breath of fresh night air to take back to my cozy (Hyggie like crazy) bed with me. I still do it sometimes. The stars, they have secrets, and if you put your ear down close, and listen hard, they will tell you.❤️be an elf christmas

hotchocolaterecipeMy dad used to say, “Be an Elf,” and to me, that’s the same exact same thing as Hygge.  It’s a hug. Kind of virtual, but you definitely still feel it.  Christmas can be a  lonely time for some of us, especially if we’ve dreamed of a certain kind of magical Christmas but have never quite gotten it.  I say, this year, think about how you can give it to yourself … a nice big Hygge box of jammies and candles just cannot hurt, with a card signed, “Te Adoro, with all my heart, 💞 your darling Santa, who loves you.” You can wake up, find it all wrapped up under the tree along with the cashmere sweater he left for you, smell the roast chicken he put in the oven, drink the hot chocolate he made for you, count your blessings and be very surprised and thrilled.💝

hyacinths-for-the-soul And another thing this season: Be sure to Shop Small and Buy Local. Because most of the money you spend when you do that, STAYS in your community. That’s a very good thing. Very Hygge. Wear a cute hat when you do it, spread some sunshine.  Send love to Tennessee, if you have a little extra, to help the families affected by the terrible wildfires.  Send them a little Hygge. And that’s it, oh no, it’s not, I forgot, one other surprise I have left for you! Pretty Hygge too.

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This is the Giveaway we have from the new Willard (which just started going out today, it takes about four days for it all to go, so be patient, and if you’re not on our mailing list, you can still sign up)  . . . Anyway the prize is a signed copy of the new Heart of the Home, a bird in a gilded cage for your tree, and two dream charms, one is Christmas Joy, and the other (the red one) is Heart of the Home…and all you have to do is leave a comment and you’ll be entered for the drawing!  BUT, there’s something else, because Hey, it’s Christmas, and Hey, we’re Hygging today!

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Oh yeah, It’s Heart of the Home AGAIN, signed, like the first one, and also, the now out-of-print A Fine Romance, also signed ~ and there’s a little dream charm too, “Girlfriends,” plus, yes, img_7285it’s the teapot that we bought in an antique store in the Peak District in England that I wrote about in A Fine Romance … I thought, because I have enough teapots, that I would get quadruple the pleasure from this one. First I got to use it, then write about it, then I got to paint it, and now I get to share it. How much more Hygge can you get? Te Adoro, with all my heart, 💞 your darling Santa, who loves you.

So there will be two drawings! Two winners! Just leave a comment, and I’ll announce the winners here on the blog in a week or so, when everyone’s had a chance to enter, and I’ll email them too.

I’m home.🏡 Feeling so lucky! Happy to be here. Sending love to you all.💝

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closet Music christmas falalalala (cropped!)

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3,190 Responses to HYGGE for the HOLIDAYS

  1. Jeanne says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Susan. It never fails that I always read some phrase, or idea or quote in each one of your posts that really touches my heart. I love the idea of making your home cozy; I try to do that in my home and make it a haven for my husband to come home to after a hard day at work. Thanks for re-enforcing that idea!

  2. audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, MO says:

    I am so glad you are home❤️ and getting ready to settle in for the holidays. I think I enjoy most your posts during this most comfy time of year! Thank you for your heartfelt post just after the election. I must admit to feeling a bit lost, confused and a tiny bit bruised by our national turn of events. I fear no real ability to effect a worldwide change, to make a difference on a national scale, and statewide I appear to have no influence. But here, in my tiny home outside of town I can take care to make others welcome and hopefully create an atmosphere of love and provide a place of peace.
    I anxiously await the book of “hugs!”

    • sbranch says:

      Well, I choose to believe that we all matter, and what we do matters, both at home, in the care and soul-feeding of ourselves and our families, and also in the big world, where in a democracy our voices are so very important. It’s supposed to be for the people, by the people and if the people don’t show up, then it’s by WHOEVER, and that’s probably not so good. It is bruising, no other country has such a LONG election season, I would love to see it shortened! Love you Audrey, thank you for writing.

  3. Marge says:

    Welcome home Susan. ❤️ I am so glad you are continuing to write your lovely blog. I was afraid that you might abandon the blog after some negative reaction to the post election heartfelt feelings you shared. We need you now more than ever. Thanks for being my Elf.

    • sbranch says:

      Just like your kind words Marge, I received many more positive comments than negative. Most people seemed, whether they agreed with me politically or not, to agree that we have a very divided country and most of us don’t like it! Happy to be here Marge, and will be for a long time. xoxo

    • Dianne says:

      Marge, you really hit the nail on the head!!! Susan is my Elf as well- not just at Christmas time, but every day throughout the year. Her blog never fails to bring a little sunshine into my day. I confess. When a new blog hasn’t been posted and I need a little hygge, I re-read her previous entries. I never tire of her wisdom

  4. Joan says:

    Welcome home. Concerned about fake emails. So much hatred. Hoping for the best next four years. Your thoughts on all this helped me. I was surprised to see such negative remarks. A few were mean. Hope love does conquer all. Merry Christmas to you and Joe. Love that teapot❤️

  5. Taylor Strickland says:

    Hi Susan! I received your scrapbook cookbook at my wedding shower 4 1/2 years ago and it is so cute! I just recently found your blog and I’m so glad I did! I love reading it! Thank you for graciously giving this giveaway! Christmastime blessings! ❤️

  6. Marina - Indy says:

    Hi Susan!
    My grandparents immigrated from Denmark around 1927. I enjoyed reading about Hygge. Brings back wonderful memories and thoughts of all the traditions my grandparents passed down. I had the chance to visit Cape Cod for the first time the beginning of Nov. Taking the ferry to check out your MV was a must. One day was just not enough to explore but fun anyway. Love your blog. It brings happiness.

    • sbranch says:

      We have that same “one-day” problem with places we’ve visited! But at least we figure we get the lay-of-the-land for the NEXT time!😃

  7. Chrissy says:

    Thank you Ms. Susan for being my Hygge. As time goes on I am more aware for the need of this. I need these hugs to recharge, fill up and to carry on. It’s bitterly cold here so I plan to make a fire, sit with some tea, and crochet, in the quiet while my children are at school. I need these moments and have learned to take them. I have learned that I deserve them. I’m so glad your back from your journey and may you and yours have a blessed Christmas filled with lots of love and Hygee.

  8. Denise says:

    I’ve never heard of such a thing, but I like it! Please enter me into the drawing. Thanks Denise

  9. diana navarre says:

    Enjoy your posts so much. I appreciate your viewpoints and love that you share with us. I do think that what you said about the election in your Willard was all you really need to share on that matter. It was better than your previous political opinion. just my opinion. and we do all have one!
    Blessings as we head toward Christmas!

  10. JoAnne Stevens says:

    Yea! The Cookie Jar is here again! I love all of your things. I had most of your cookbooks but when I downsized I passed them on to my granddaughter and now I miss them! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  11. Eszter says:

    Dear Susan

    It must have been wonderful to spend 2 months in the beautiful UK, but I’m sure it must be even so wonderful to be home at last. Thanks for your latest Willard full of godies and I really hope you will write a book about your latest trip sooner or later. Wishing you wonderful homely Christmas holidays.

    xoxo
    Eszter

  12. audrey B, LaBarque Creek, MO says:

    Hello dear friend, Susan. Thank you for providing a safe place to land during “difficult times.” I love seeing your home at this cozy time of year, thank you for letting us come in for tea. ( No pressure here, but I am anxiously awaiting that Home❤️Book!)

    • sbranch says:

      I think it could be so fun to do!

      • audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, MO says:

        (And now for a little pressure…)
        Do you think the little green glass bead charms for A Fine Romance will ever make their way back into the blog store? I waited a bit too long and missed out. I have all the others and love wearing them as spacers on my charm chain, I get complimented on them all the time.

        • sbranch says:

          So nice to hear! Sort of a business thing: The manufacturer has a minimum number that we HAVE to order, and because they’re a little expensive, we try to make sure we can sell them. Kellee and Sheri keep a sort of general track of requests, so let them know at customerservice@susanbranch.com. And hopefully, someday we can do it!

          • FayE in CA! says:

            Put out a pre-order “interested? request” on a blog to see what the demand is. I am sure people will want to order charms. I have a request in for three different ones to add to my two. If we are elves then we need our “ID” charm!!! Elves DO work year ’round…spreading kindness, but are only recognized for their HIGHLY promoted Christmas deeds. It’s tough to come down from their December high praises and constant kudos and a real elf DOWNER the next 11 months. 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            LOL!

          • FayE in CA! says:

            By the way…for those who do not have a charm, they are BEAUTIFUL…and beautifully made. Good gifts for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter Basket goody, Birthday surprises, and Just-Because gifts!! Great in Christmas stockings, too…you name it…the charm you choose won’t disappoint the recipient! I put the Christmas Joy and Heart of the Home charms on a silver chain to make a “December necklace”…I LOVE it…love fingering them throughout my days decking the halls! I am putting the necklace away after Christmas (boo-hoo), but am looking forward to putting it on again next December 1st – sort of a re-gift to myself in future years. Can’t wait to add Be an Elf to the necklace. OH…so charming to be charmed by Susan’s charms. 💗💗💗

          • sbranch says:

            What a sweet testimonial FayE! XOXOXO I’m so happy you like them!

  13. Barbara in So Cal says:

    Just what I needed “hygge” after dealing with that fumigation move out
    and move back in -with a gigantic mess to clean up- ordeal. Thank you, Susan.
    It w i l l all be normal again and a Merry Christmas w i l l happen!
    Merry Christmas to you.

  14. Naomi Jones says:

    Absolutely love this! I just learned about hygge in the book The Danish Way of Parenting. I am all about this coziness!

  15. Megan Zambito says:

    I love seeing your house in the sky. Brings back wonderful memories to sustain me till the summer.

  16. Candice says:

    This was exactly what I’ve been feeling. It must be in the air. Thank you so much for the inspiration to create a cozy, welcoming environment in my home.

  17. Audrey.(by the sea) says:

    Luvlee to see you at your beautiful home again. I am looking forward to seeing more of your England and Scotland vacation pictures.
    We were planning our trip for this spring, but it’s postponed, so it will be “hygge” to see yours.
    A lovely thoughtful giveaway!
    Audrey.

  18. Wanda Susanne says:

    Hello Susan, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It helps me to be happy and appreciate all the blessings I have in my life. Wish you would come and visit me in my little (and I do mean little) Iowa farm house!
    Love you bunches, Wanda Susanne

  19. Patsy says:

    Thank you for always brightening my day with ways to add hygge into my home! Merry Christmas!

  20. Jean Flannery says:

    Glad your back and able to post again. I enjoy reading everyone.

  21. Carol Mikolay says:

    Welcome back Susan,
    I read this latest blog for the second time on the 10th. You are my Hygge today.

  22. Pat says:

    Susan – I just printed off some of your gift tags in “free stuff” — thank you!!! They are adorable!

  23. Laurie Nico's mom says:

    Thank you once again for the inspiration, Susan. May all the joys of the season be yours. Hugs to Jack and Joe.
    Laurie
    =:3

  24. Susan Dugal says:

    All things Susan Branch keep my dreams afloat – thank you for all the wonderful things you share with us. I will be 66 next week and I would love to go on a long adventure like some of yours, however, I don’t know anyone who would even consider going. Is there a place I can put out a request for someone who might want to go on such an adventure with me? I would not mind going alone but it just seems like too much work to figure everything out by myself. Happy Holidays to all – God rest you, merry everyone – let nothing you dismay!

  25. Rosemary says:

    Love, love, love those little houses with the windows lit with candle-glow. I’ll have to begin my own collection now. Merry Christmas to ALL!

  26. Lynn Barlow says:

    Dear Susan, your writings & drawings make my heart sing & my spirit soar–thank you!!❤️

  27. Laura Eichner says:

    Blessed

  28. Kerrie Foley says:

    Happy that you had such a lovely trip and made it home safely. I loved this post. my home is my Heaven and I love this time of year for decorating and snuggling and celebrating with loved ones. Have a wonderful love filled Christmas time! Kerrie from Wickford

  29. CO Carol says:

    Welcome Home (!) and thank you, Susan, for “Willard” and the blog post this week, such wonderful gifts of the season. With blue skies, and starry nights pictures & memories, it really is a reminder of the small planet we all walk upon and share. The more we can make it hygge not only for the holidays, but for all days, the better off and less stressed we’ll all be. Wishing you & all the girlfriends commenting happiness and peace in the New Year.

  30. HveHope says:

    Susan, PLEASE disregard this if I’ve already made a ‘comment’ to ‘enter’ the give-away. (I just can’t remember IF I did and don’t have the energy to go through all the comments – thousands! wow! 🙂 – to check).
    Btw. I totally agree with the concept of Hygge and try to practice it when I can ;).
    much love, by His grace alone, HveHope

  31. Melissa P. says:

    Merry Christmas! I discovered hygge recently, too, and think it’s a delightful way of thinking. Just ordered a book about it and it’s coming all the way from England to my postbox!

    Do you know about Jacquie Lawson’s online advent calendar? I have a feeling you already do, but if you haven’t discovered it yet, I think you’d really like it. It’s a tradition now in my family to watch each day together. You and she are remarkable artists–my favorites!

    Hope you have peaceful and restful holidays!

  32. Gail Rose says:

    I’m so happy you and Joe are home safe and sound.

    Wish I could have been there with you.

    Can’t wait for another book….Think it is a great idea. lol

    Merry Christmas…Gail

  33. Eileen says:

    Oh my gosh, that bathroom is dreamy. I hope my next house has an old-fashioned tub like that! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

  34. K says:

    Cheers!
    ~Del gato gordo y descarado~

  35. beverley voss says:

    Hi Susan,
    Welcome Home! Love You, love the blog, Willard, and all the Girlfriends and their wonderful comments! Blessings Galore! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
    love,
    Bev

  36. Hannah Carlson says:

    I always love some hygge. My husband is Danish and Swedish so we always try to incorporate it into our family life to keep his heritage alive. I love your take on it!

  37. Tatiana Oleksy says:

    So wonderful! I love reading your blog

  38. Ilona Taylor says:

    Susan, I’m thankful for your generous heart! I so enjoy your art and drawings, your artist’s eye in your photos. Makes me smile. And I’m going to find some of the movies on your list that I haven’t heard of and watch with my daughters. Thank you!

  39. Charlene Scholey says:

    Welcome home to all your hygge things. I have tried to make my home as hygge as possible and didn’t even know it. Now that I know I love it more and you too. You snd Joe have a e onderfully merry Christmas and stay hygge!
    Love, Cha rlene Scholey

  40. Peggy Lison says:

    Yes! Hygee or giant hugs or whatever we call them makes us feel way better.
    I am doing the elf thing for friends and family. lots of baking and sewing, making the dolls new jammies and nighties for friends along with matching pillow cases for the dolls mommies. All sorts of wonderment happening here.
    Also the migration of thousands of Tundra swans and ducks, cold walks and hot chocolate for when I come in. All makes me feel more normal than the public would like us to think. On the 21st Solstice I am having a “sew a hat for the homeless” sewing bee at my house. So even tho most of my family has passed on I am trying my best to be happy and make others happy too. Happiest holidays to you, Joe and Jack. Hang in there Susan we all love you so much!!
    ps keep saying all the true things that you do!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I think you are amazing Peggy. I particularly love the dolls clothes with matching pillowcases for doll mommies! Where are you watching the swans and ducks migrate from? Sounds so wonderful. I would love to see that. xoxo

      • Peggy says:

        Well here I am again -my guide to M.V. birding just got eaten by the cloud:) so here goes again:

        I am in the Mississippi flyway and you are in the Atlantic flyway.
        The good news is the Tundra swans which nest on Hudson Bay in Canada migrate from there thru Madison and our flyway right toward you and end up in N Carolina! To the tune of 75,000 swans for most of the winter!!!! Honestly it might be worth the trip.

        Resources for birding your area are: Vineyard Birds II by Susan Whiting and Pesch.
        Lanny McDowel’s map of birding hotspots on MV
        Rbt. Culbert 693-4958
        Cape Poge NWA National Wildlife refuge and Mashpee?
        BIRDMASS which is a birding hotline. I use our local one a lot, esp. now that folks have smart phones -I get reports all day long on email about the location of all sorts of birds.
        I am a bird guide so I could go on and on. If you are ever in Madison I’d be happy to show you the good spots. It is so much fun!!! You may email me with any questions or call
        608-238-1940. I started birding in 1968 and am still at it!!!
        It is my true passion in life along with nature watercolor.
        Better send this before it gets sucked into space again.
        Good luck finding swans and other delights. xoxox Peggy

        • Peggy says:

          Sorry that would be MASSBIRD (not birdmass!)
          for your state bird hot line.

        • sbranch says:

          We know Susan and Lanny! We’re out at the pond every day, but only see one or two swans at a time, usually floating. Once in a while we get a little cluster flying over, but it’s so rare. Thanks for all the good info. Love to see passion in action! xoxoxo

  41. Donna Lynn Kawano says:

    Happy Holidays, Susan and welcome home! Hoping that you’ll consider writing another book and sharing your wonderful experiences with us! Merry Christmas and best wishes to you for a wonderful year ahead!

  42. Laurie Lee says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love reading your blog. It’s a bit like settling in with a good book or movie and a cuppa tea on the side with a warm fire in the background! Please do not stop painting and writing.
    Happy Holidays.
    Laurie

    • sbranch says:

      You have the same name as a wonderful English writer! I probably will never quit, as long as I can anyway. I love everything about it. Thank you Laurie!

  43. Terry Goodman says:

    Good Morning….
    Whenever I need a pick me up I always read your blog and come away refreshed and inspired!
    My “hygge” this morning is sitting in front of my little electric fireplace with a nice cup of coffee and my yellow lab sleeping at my feet. Ahhh…. there is no place like home!
    Merry Christmas!
    Love,
    Terry

  44. Jessica Lothridge says:

    Welcome home, Susan! Your blog and Willard filled with charm and heart feels like Hygge from you to all of us. Many thanks, and right back to you!

  45. Gale Jourdet says:

    So glad to have you back …..we need regular doses of your positivity.
    Thank you for being you. And I for one was so pleased to have your voice concerning the worst political season ever. Never do I remember …such actual despair voiced by almost everyone and not just by your friends, but total strangers on the street, in the market, in the library, in yoga class, waiting in lines, etc. we all talked to each other like never before. If it brings us together it will be a good thing in the end. We always have hope. We can still choose to live our life showing kindness and concern. We can make a difference to people in our family, friends, to our neighbors, to our town, the next town over even. Make a difference locally. Sow good seeds that you can see. Good things can start with you. Thank you Susan for being brave enough to speak up! We all need to continue to work toward ” the common good.” I am thankful for this Christmas season more than ever. We need it. Let it be a time of healing, a balm for our spirits. Yes! Get your Hygge on!

    • sbranch says:

      I understand, and I don’t think the fact that some of us felt despair (not just because of who WON the election, there was a lot more to it than that) should make us turn against each other. My goodness, we’re the good guys, it’s THEM that put us in this fix, THEM on both sides. We all want the same things, a better, stronger, fairer America, and if we look over the past 100 years, some elected officials have done it, and some haven’t, but it’s never worth civil war over. When I see the anger, I know that person is being riled up by whatever media she is listening to, and that person should look at who’s doing that to her, take the bull by the horns and dump them! Because all problems can be solved with thoughtful, caring, hard-working compromise. It’s just not exciting, so media isn’t interested unless trouble can be stirred up. But, our elected officials manage to do it in our town governments every day, and they can do it in federal government too. Thank you Gale! xoxo

  46. Jenny says:

    Hello! Thought you might like to know that if you go to pbs.org, you can watch two adorable movies they made for the holiday season (the ability to view them has an expiration date but you can see that listed). They are: Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables. Nice way to spend a couple of hours!

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
    Jenny

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Jenny ~ I’m sure that more people than me will love to hear about that!

      • FayE in CA! says:

        Both movies were well done and so peaceful to watch. Spending time watching both movies was refreshing…relaxing. So nice to see love break through to bring out kindness, love…and need in another person’s stern and unkind demeanor! Just proves that we all need kindness and someone we care for and who cares for us with heartstrings that tie us together for our own good!

  47. karen friedrich says:

    Your blog and Willard are my Hygee!

  48. Tracy says:

    a word for you, per your Willard! And Merry, Merry Christmas!!

  49. wkucaralyne says:

    Thank goodness for you Susan! We all need some positivity after a tough year. As for me, I’ll snuggle up today under my big comforter, read a book, kiss the kitties and enjoy the twinkle lights of this season. A very Merry Christmas to you and Joe. We are with you. We believe! ‘It’s a wonderful life!’

  50. Karen C says:

    Merry Christmas to you & your family!

  51. Julie Brooks says:

    Wow. I just read this post EXACTLY when I needed it the most! I wrote my final blogpost last night, in which I explained I lost my sense of humor in August and my sense of home on Election Day. Thanks for giving me some “home” work!

    • sbranch says:

      Well, you can’t go before you give me that hat pattern.😈👍 Never fear Julie, you are a hygge person and you always will be and it will keep you in good stead forever. ❌⭕️

  52. Glenda says:

    L have already commented about this blog,but reading it again….and looking at the pictures. I noticed for the first time a detached house. What’s in it or what is it used for? Love detached houses! 😁

  53. cecelia says:

    Susan, where can I buy the PJs you sold years ago. Is there a company name or website that you ordered them from. I love mine and need a new set.
    Also I did not get the last Willard. Is there a link?

  54. Sheri Bodi says:

    Susan, Your blog always makes me appreciate the little things just a little bit more! Today we are having our first accumulating snow–a perfect day for being cozy inside and feeling Hygee and enjoying the Christmas Spirit:) A very Merry Christmas to you !

  55. Judy Dinauer says:

    Love the darling pictures of your home, especially now for the holidays. I spread some cheer with the poinsetta in the Santa mug you did a few years ago. Loved that and now the houses…..so-o-o-o cute!!! Hugs and Happy HolidaysXO

  56. Judy Wooley says:

    Thanks for that beautiful post. You always brighten my day and get me back on track. Judy from Kentucky

  57. Gina Derksen says:

    Susan,
    Merriest Christmas to you who have inspired me in so many ways, including the annual hunt for a fat tree! My close friend read the Isle book and said she understood ME better! Ha! 2 things; are you aware of the cute “Vita and Harold” appliqué jacket? As seen on Pinterest! I think you might need it. Also, my mom is staying with us & asked to use our Christmas wrapping supplies. “Of course, anything you want, but I am hoarding the Susan paper!” Hoping my ancient stash can be replenished soon, will you ever produce wrapping paper again? Wishes for a lovely cozy season from Virginia.

    • sbranch says:

      I have wrapping paper available on Spoonflower … Every thing on there is fabric, but you can get every design in wrapping paper, too (and wallpaper!). Say a big HELLO to your mom! Haven’t seen the jacket…I Googled it, but nothing I could recognize came up for me. Thank you Gina!

  58. Donna G.-Monterey, CA says:

    Susan,
    I made your Spice Pecans while I was in the Central Valley for Thanksgiving. A family friend, who grows walnuts and pecans, gave us a huge bag of pecans. I remembered your recipe for Spiced Pecans and as luck would have it I happened to have AUTUMN with me as vacation reading material! They were delicious. (I substituted the California staple-Tabasco sauce)
    I always enjoy your blog posts, but especially at this time of year. Look forward to seeing photos of your Christmas tree. You have the perfect house for Christmas, and you always decorate it so homey and cute. Is Santa bringing Jack a kitten for Christmas or is he content to be an only cat?! After all the traveling you have done this year, may you and Joe enjoy being Home for the Holidays.

    • sbranch says:

      Jack seems to be thriving as an only kitty. I would LOVE to get more, but it didn’t work out that well for him and Girl Kitty, so now I’m a little afraid. I’ve never really been a one-kitty household! Love those Pecans. Have you tried them in salads? YUM!

  59. Dee says:

    Did you ever notice how similar Japanese and Scandinavian style is in some respects? Those komatsus that are found in Japanaese homes are very hygge. (I’ll bet Joe would like one. :<) I love both styles because they are uncluttered and fresh and yes, cozy. Love that night sky picture. The night sky is so beautiful in the winter!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Dee, Yes, they are similar! I looked up Komatsus, but only getting a company by that name.. what is it?

      • Dee says:

        Maybe I used the wrong word. It’s like a combination heater/ very low table that people gather around. I saw phots of people sleeping near one with the table covered with a blanket and their legs beneath. they were surrounded with comfy looking cushions. Looked very cozy but maybe a little dangerous. I read that Japanese homes often don’t have central heating so that’s why they use them.

  60. Mary Jane Gruber says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m sure you have gotten much inspiration from your recent travels. However there is a great quote by Charles Dickens that says, “Every traveler has a home of his own and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.” Isn’t that absolutely the truth! Love to you for sharing your wonderful creativity.

    • sbranch says:

      Absolute truth. No matter how much I love and adore what we’ve seen and would love more more more, my own home, my heart magnet as I call it, always calls me back! Thank you Mary Jane!

  61. Diane Froebel says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe! It was great to see you in Denver this year. Looking forward to following my annual tradition of making cookies from your Cookie Jar!

  62. Carolyn mixon says:

    Yes, it is for me – A Wonderful Life – for you put so much wonder and joy into all that you create – my heart is so full of thankfulness to you for all you do for us -, So glad you and Joe have had a dream voyage, now have the best Christmas and New Year ever –

  63. Cheryl says:

    Welcome Home and Happy Holidays !!!!! — and Happy Decorating !!!!!

  64. Anna S. says:

    Oh I wish my camera would allow me to take a beautiful picture of the stars at night like yours!! ❤️❤️❤️ I hope I’m not too late for the drawing because I ❤️ All of it and they would be perfect gifts for my Christmas loving daughter and my other daughter who is in the Navy and misses home! Oh these are such great ideas for Christmas!
    So glad you’re home and all is right with the world! ☃❄️🎄🎅🏼

  65. Barbara Stevens says:

    I have just discovered your blog and it’s lovely! Loving your books as well, so thank you for sharing such cozy warmth and true stories with us. I feel like I am snuggled in a plush blanket…warm and satisfied. Oh, and I am a tea lover, too!

  66. Penny Carpenter says:

    Awesome!!

  67. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    So glad you’re home, and had a wonderful time! And oh. My. Goodness!! What a fun giveaway! Super excited. Fingers crossed! Merry Christmas Mr. And Mrs. Santa in book land. ❤️

  68. Kimberly Garner says:

    Love this post! Home is so important to me. I love a clean house, soup on the stove and my kitty snuggled on my lap. Pure happiness.

  69. Yvonne says:

    Me
    rry Christmas Susan & Joe and Jack.

  70. Karen Lodolce says:

    Merry Christmas to all! Love all your cozy pictures for a relaxing winter season. Sipped my tea as I read the new Willard. Thank you!

  71. Gert~Iowa says:

    Susan, good morning! Love your post, as always. I’m so glad and relieved that you and Joe are home safe and sound. Looks like Jack is happy too… he’ll probably never want to let you go….smile We’re in the deep freeze here in Iowa with wind chills of -10 this morning! Hope you escape this system!!! Blessings my friend!!!

  72. Patricia Swiger says:

    Susan….have a warm and cozy holiday with that handsome husband of yours and kitty too…love xo

  73. Carole says:

    So glad you are home for the holidays! I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your trip to England and Scotland. You mentioned in one of your posts that you have a trunk full of wool plaid. I’ve loved the Scottish plaids for years. Can’t wait to see what you do with the wool you bought. Merry Christmas and best wishes to you and Joe for 2017.

    • sbranch says:

      Well, it was all already made into shawls and scarves!!! So most of it will be keeping us and our friends warm this winter! Thank you Carole! Merry Christmas!

  74. Diana Hartman says:

    Soooo glad your home but am glad you enjoyed your trip. I missed your words of wisdom. I feel so much better reading your blogs. Keep them going.

  75. Susan says:

    Lovely post! What a Christmas “gift” to us all!

  76. Margie says:

    Thank you Susan for a wonderful post. I always find them so enjoyable and always learn something new.have never heard the term hygge.but we can all use a little coziness in our homes. Hope you and Joe have a very Merry Christmas.

  77. Sydney Stocks says:

    I sat down with with the lights of our Christmas tree (which we just decorated yesterday) on, a cup of tea and Christmas music playing to read your most recent post. I LOVED it and, as others have already said, it felt like a HUG (English spelling) to receive. I have been buying your books since you first started publishing them and so I am celebrating your anniversary with you. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with others through the years and for giving us inspiration, warmth and encouragement to make our homes and our lives warm, inviting and filled with love. Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy being HOME!

  78. Kimberly McLees says:

    Hope I’m in time to enter the contest. I’d love to win but if I don’t I’ll still feel hygge. (Is that the correct usage? However it’s used I love it!) Wishing you and Joe and Jack the merriest of Christmases and an new year filled with blessings. Thanks for my brightening my day!

  79. Lee Ann Alspaw says:

    So happy your home safe and enjoying getting ready for Christmas. I too lost my dad this summer. I could some hygge maybe I’ll win. Thanks for your blog and great books. Really enjoy reading them. Merry Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sorry about your dad. It’s a hard thing, but more and more I find I remember the good times, and forget the sad part at the end. So, that makes me feel better. All my best to you and yours Lee Ann!

  80. Susan says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am recovering from knee-replacement surgery and this post, and reading your current Willard, helped brighten my week! Thank you for setting an example and being an “Elf” to so many of us. Blessings to you and yours this holiday season~

    • sbranch says:

      My girlfriend Jaime just had her knee done too! Can be really tough, but oh boy, what a miracle procedure it is. Good for you Susan, here’s to getting well quickly! xoxoxo

  81. Debbie Boerger says:

    Christmas Tidings, Dear Susan and Joe,
    I have a Scandinavianish living room and dining area now smelling like the Great North Woods with greens from friends in Maine, and an uber Oriental bedroom, which takes up most of the upper floor. I love, love, love it. Had the antique rattan sofa and chairs and wicker since I came to Florida 47 years ago when another teacher was selling her grandfather’s porch things. I had 0 furniture. Last year, I got new cushions, covers, painted the walls pale yellow. Dressers and chest are solid bamboo with wicker insets. Found an antique 4 panel screen in the “Chicken Barn”, books, antiques and junk where we live half the year in Maine. It’s all put together by hand with wooden pieces with teeny, tiny brass nails. So heavy, it takes 3 to move it, even though it’s open work. Headboard is dark, vertical rattan, display my sweet husband build for my treasures from family and friends who have lived in and traveled in Asia. And my fabulous huge goldfish painting by a Maine artist friend. Oh, I’m so glad I finally did it, got it all just as I we wanted. I even enjoy dusting my things. Not kidding. Neither of us is Asian, we just love the natural materials and the clean lines. The Maine house is more Susan Branch style, Maine Country Lodgy, all wood and mostly maple and pine junque! furniture. I’m am so completely lucky in life, and I know it. See how much I love my nests, but I notice and appreciate everything so much more because of you.
    Love ya’
    Debbie in Tampa

  82. Sunday Ormesher says:

    Love your blog and would love to win the book and birdcage! I just realized I have been doing Hygge for a very long time and didn’t realize… I always love to make things cozy and better for me and my husband of 38 yrs.. just the other day he said that I like to make the surroundings fit and cozy… we love to hear beautiful music throughout the house and this Christmas we have really enjoyed the Philharmonic Holiday Music on Pandora! and my husband is a gifted tenor so I get front row seats when he is practicing… loved following you around England recently… so enjoyed the time I went there when I was 18 and my husbands family is from England/Wales… so all things England are interesting for us! tea and all! Have a very Merry Christmas and keep posting jewels… so enjoy

  83. Sandy Yarmac says:

    Gosh I just love reading your posts, always puts me in a good place. Happy holidays 🎄

  84. Janice B says:

    Love your blog and always appreciate your take on what’s going on in the world. You have such a compassionate heart. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      One of the things I like about me 😜 I usually find it very easy to put myself in other people’s places. I feel like it’s a gift from God. Makes it all so much easier to see that no matter where we are, what country, what religion, what color, what beliefs, we are all in it together. Earth, the magical spinning ball.

  85. Amber says:

    You Inspire me with wild eyed abandon, Literally! I can’t wait to take a trip to England someday again soon! It’s my Heritage and I am Definitely an Anglophile as well! Thank you for staying young, Creative, Happy, Relaxed, FUN and happy. Merry Christmas! 🙂 <3

    • sbranch says:

      Thank YOU Amber! Very sweet of you, hold on to that wild-eyed abandon, it will do good things for you!

  86. Janet Johnson says:

    Oh I strongly desire that Union Jack tea towel!! It amazes me the time you give to write and design these posts and to take and dig up all the photos. I cannot express what your posts mean to me in the midst of a scary medical diagnosis and a time of financial destitution due to loss of job and inability to do another. I try hard to stay positive for my kids, but it is difficult sometimes.

    But your posts elevate me to a place of warmth and dreams, a soothing salve for the raw wounds of life. My copy of Fine Romance is a treasure for me, a refuge for my soul, being long a rabid Anglophile. I pick it up when I feel like nothing will get better and I will never be able to do anything again.

    I won a lovely copy of Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams on this blog, and I am waiting in anticipation to finally get The Fairy Tale Girl from the library – only one or two in our huge library system and there is a long line waiting for it! I have read a good bit of at the book store while my kids are like, “Are we ever going to leave?” I had no idea your connection to Tarzan! My sister and I lived for that show and loved Ron Ely and little Manuel Padilla, Jr.

    Anyway, I didn’t set out to rhapsodize so but I just want you to know how much you mean to me and how much I appreciate all you give of yourself and how you read all your comments, and you get a lot! Bless you and thank you 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Janet. It’s so not fair to have so much land on one person’s shoulders. Thank you for your sweet words. Sending Big Love, and prayers for a much better 2017 for you and yours. XOXOXOXO

  87. Joy says:

    Thanks for Willard.

  88. Reading about your second trip to England and seeing the photos brought back wonderful memories of our two trips to the U.K. in 1995 and 1998. Would love to return. Thank you for sharing. Also want to thank you for keeping the memory of Gladys Taber alive. Her books brought me through some stressful times when I was younger. Thanks you for being you!

  89. Marsha Robins says:

    Reading your blog always adds a bright spot to my day. So glad you are home safe and sound in time to celebrate the holidays in the USA. I would love to win one of the giveaways!

  90. Daisy Babione says:

    I LOVE your books! My niece gave me a signed copy of Martha’s Vineyard which I just could not stop reading. I immediately requested all your other books from my library and am trying not to read them so fast. They are beautiful–not just the stories and the artwork– but the warm, cozy feeling I get while and after I have read them. What a treasure!! I, too, love to see houses and am always so curious as to what they look like inside. Thank you, thank you, from one who loves to read and wishes she could paint!

  91. lynn says:

    wow…over 3,000 comments! How DOOOO you read them all??? But you are a great lady to do so….and I am here to wish you and Joe a very Merry little Christmas….I have your 2017 wall calendar and can’t wait to hang it….thanks for your art….it inspires me to take up my watercolors once again…

  92. Cindy Johnson says:

    Happy you are back !

    • Jan says:

      Susan, love all that you do! Love naming homes. We named our home Strawberry Hill! Wild strawberries grow in different places over our property. When we go traveling down to Loa Angeles we like to stop at an Inn called Apple Farm in SL0. Every room is decorated differently. A very charming place to stay. Each room is like a cozy tiny cottage ! Merry Christmas to you, Joe and Jack! My cat is black and white also. We named her Strawberry because someone dropped her off on our property. She is a really nice cat! Love from Syrawberry Girl!

      • sbranch says:

        I’ve done book signings at the Apple Farm, it’s a wonderful place. Love to Strawberry Girl on Strawberry Hill! xo

  93. FayE in CA! says:

    I just received a pristine 1st Edition copy of Christmas Joy and spent part of the afternoon with Grayson curled up on my lap reading it. (Badly structured sentence…I was reading it, not Grayson. Although he IS brilliant…and to be clear…a CAT curled up on my lap…oh my…this sentence is getting more fun by the letter.) I was struck by the quote that you used on the Table of Contents page…”For somehow, not only at Christmas, but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.” John Greenleaf Whittier

    YOU get so much joy out of giving all of US joy…so YOU are the embodiment of the above quote!

    I absolutely love the artwork on “Susan Claus and Joe Claus”…honestly, that drawing of Mrs. Claus and Santa dancing TRULY has a hint of you and Joe…down to Susan Claus’ glasses half way down her nose…a signature you!!

    LOSS OF INNOCENCE cracked me up…12 years old…really, Susan??!! Last year I had a 9 year old granddaughter ask me if Santa was real…over the phone!! I asked if she had asked her mother. She said, “Grandma, come ‘on, it’s me…you can tell me.” I was laughing out loud inside while I listened to her. Told her that I believe in Santa…the spirit of the joy of Christmas. (Religious joys, not Santa for millions, I know, but for me it is Santa’s legend that gets my little-girl-me going.) Anyway, a few months later I knew that Santa was outta her being…and sadly the Easter bunny had been banished, too. I swore her to keep the special secrets because her sister is younger. I could just hear her on a “mad-at-my-sister” moment…”What do you know…YOU still believe in Santa and the Easter bunny. Go ask Mom! (Read that sentence as though it is all in italics to get the voice of the older sister’s “mad”.) HA!

    In the WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO WAIT TILL THE LAST MINUTE TO SHOP notes I totally agree with “They buy the first thing they see, or “the last resort” which often turns out to be something yukky & boring, taking the fun of giving out of the season…(Plain pitiful).” I hate giving gifts that I don’t love myself…and never-never-ever “do generic”. I get excited with anticipation wrapping the gift for friends/family.

    And, like you, I shop year ’round…perfect gifts wave me over and announce that this IS Spring, but you need to buy me for Susie-que! and I take it home and stash it away. I would LOVE to shop Main Street on MV, but dislike to the ninth degree mall shopping any time of the year.

    Anyhoo, Christmas Joy is a fitting title for the book because you packed the pages full of joyful tidbits for the season…highlighted with your beautiful art. Thanks for writing it – copyright 1995! Where does time fly to?

    I know some Girlfriends have wanted out-of-print copies of your books. Just search the title on eBay, Etsy or google…some sellers are even affiliated through Amazon. That’s how I managed to get a couple of SB books in super condition. Don’t give up on a wish to have SB out-of-print books. You can!

    Cheers to everyone’s final wrap-ups for the 2016 season. Susan’s Christmas Joy book specifically tells us that napping on Christmas Day is a…how shall I re-word it…PLANNED ACTIVITY! Even suggested having movies available so that guests can be entertained while the hostess soaks in a tub or naps. She gave us permission to relax and enjoy our day…our way. I don’t know how one gets the title…Hostess with the Mostest…that way, but maybe hostess/host is so relaxed that everyone else relaxes, too. Who knows all of the insandouts of our Susan!!!!

    Oh…and finally…when both kids were in college their rooms made me so sad that I started a heart tree for one room and a Santa tree for the other. Helped the empty nest syndrome a bit less tearful! I added to those trees for years, but just recently dismantled them and sent the hearts to my daughter and donated a lot of Santas, but recycled some tiny ones on to a 12″ metal tree. Both rooms have a different tree now. Didn’t know that I was using a SB suggestion when I did it…like most of us…we have been cozying-up our homes for years.

    💗💗💗

    • sbranch says:

      All lovely memories dear FayE (I keep wondering if that’s the way you spell your name, or if the E jumped on there bigger?)~ loved reading that! One last thing, just like so many things, believing in Santa can be a choice! XOXOXOXO

      • FayE in CA! says:

        Yes, I am Fay with an E…emphasis on capital E! My middle name is Fay…the middle name of my maternal grandmother and paternal great-grandfather. I always hated Nancy Fay! A sister got to be beautiful Suzanne and everyone but me calls her Sue…why would she give up Suzanne for Sue when I was plain ole’ Nancy FAY? Besides…when pigs are called it is… SuuuuuuuuE…SuuuuuuuuE.

        One day my sister Peggy said that I could add an E to my name…and then started to refer to me as “Nancy Fay with an E”. Literally, she would say, “How are you, Nancy Fay with an E?” Well, over the course of time I have become Nancy FayE…emphasis on the E and love FayE.

        Jeeze, Louise! I JUST remembered Ann of Green Gables…Ann with an E! NEVER-ever got that connection before this moment. Totally agree with Ann…why be Ann when you can be Ann with an E!

        When I hand write Nancy FayE…E is always capitalized with a flourish…with an added exclamation point! Recently my mother said, “You do know that your middle name is FAY, don’t you?” I finally told her that I always hated it and I relate to FayE…and love it. (Don’t think she was happy, but I am.) And, I am not a southern gal, so I don’t use my middle name all of the time. Most of the time I am Nancy… with an exclamation point! 🙂 Growing up my middle name was generally used for emphasis with a raised voice…Nancy FAY…clean your room.

        My husband calls me Fairy FayE when I am working in the yard sprucing up my fairy gardens. I have a doll named FayE, too.

        A flourish in my life turned out to be as simple as a capital E!

        Thanks for pondering the E in my life. Great “chatting” with you.

        PS: Sorry for my lengthy notes…Hell for me would be having to say something in one sentence. 🙁

  94. Andrea Ortiz says:

    I love all of your posts. I always feel so inspired and encouraged. My little Samara met you this summer at Vroomans in Pasadena. She wore the “S” for Susan and Samara shirt. 🙂 I have all of your books on display in my den, she spends time looking through all of them. She loves all the little pictures. Merry Christmas and yay for giveaways!!

  95. Liz Cook says:

    Welcome Home Susan! You may not know it (or you may!), I have been following you for years around the world on your adventures! Sounds corny, but it’s true! I have tried to insert all the joy, love and contentment into my life that you share oh so willingly with all of us. You truly cannot know how much everything you say and draw just lingers to brighten my day and lift my spirits. I lost my momma last year and your thoughts and love do fill the emptiness I feel some days. Thank you. Sending hugs and some California love to you and Joe!
    💜 Liz

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, Liz, that was so nice. Thank you. I love having you to share the adventures with. Losing your mom must be so hard. Sending love. xoxoxo

  96. Sandy Garvey says:

    This was the perfect post to read today. I just got back from an afternoon tea with my good friends and cousins. So much fun!
    Glad you are back home. Wishing you and Joe a cozy Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year ❤❤❤😘😘😘

  97. Nancy Allison says:

    I loved seeing the old houses in England. Do you know where the phrase “raining cats and dogs came from? A few centuries ago, almost everyone in some parts of England had thatched roofs. Cats, dogs, and other small animals roosted in the straw. When it rained very hard, the straw would come apart, and the squatters on the roof would end up on the floor in the house: thus the phrase about raining cats and dogs! I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it makes sense.

    I really enjoy your blog and books. A very Merry Christmas to you & Joe.

  98. Pamela Tallmadge says:

    Thank you for allowing us to travel with you and reminding us of the beauty of the world.

  99. Hi!
    I was reading ” A Fine Romance” by Candace Bergin and my sister-in- law came for a short visit from Southern CA. She asked what I was reading and I told her. It turned out she was reading your book and loved it…so my husband and I drove 30 miles to buy it. We were about to take a month-long trip to England and were absolutely enchanted by your descriptions. My husband was inspired to keep a journal and we absolutely treasure it. He can sketch, so it makes it extra-special and personal. We love your illustrations and romantic story about you and Joe. We are looking forward to more of your books.

    • sbranch says:

      So both sisters were reading A Fine Romance, but two different books! That’s so funny! I know how you feel about your journal ~ it definitely doubles your pleasure, while you’re traveling, but even more so when you get home! Thank you for saying hello Kathy!

  100. Rena Guth says:

    I love reading all about your adventures. You are so like me, I love it!

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