There’s a Snow Storm Heading our Way!

There’s a snow storm heading up the east coast.  In celebration, I just made myself a bowl of my favorite winter breakfast, steel cut Irish oats, blueberries, cinnamon, walnuts, and milk.  My tummy is happy and warm, although I could use another pair of socks right now!  We are getting ready for Halloween and all that it entails!  Time, once again, to

Time for Practical Magic, homemade style.

Halloween is really big in our neighborhood!  That’s because we have one of the very few actual neighborhoods around here!  Most people on the island live out in the country, so at Halloween, they pack up their cars with their goblins, mummies, pirates, Harry Potters, Darth Vaders, Batmen, Spidermen, princesses, and vampires, and head toward the more densely-populated island towns, to go door-to-door where the houses aren’t three miles of dark dirt road apart.

So, our neighborhood is like the Candy Cane Lane of Halloween.  And everybody, up and down the street, does their part; we decorate our porches, carve pumpkins, light candles, and play creepy music.  And Mother Nature does her part by supplying the necessary outdoor ambience. 

In the cold dark night, woodsmoke blowing in the wind, sparks flying high into the black sky; our neighborhood of old houses with deep shadows that leap from tall hedges, huge overhanging trees, and leaves rustling ominously in every corner, is very scary — flashlight beams bounce off walkways and curbs, landing for a moment on something, omg, while mommies and daddies stand nearby as islands of safety for big-eyed babies in bunny suits.  It’s pure childhood-imagination gone wild.

We’re the house with the ghost in the upstairs window.  I found this guy years ago, and he’s there, lit up like a beacon at the end of our street, year after year, hopefully throwing a little tradition into the mix.  He’s there now; upstairs in the bedroom over my head, shining out into the street, alerting all the children that pass by our house, “it’s almost time!” (Part of the “working-them-into-a-frenzy” promotion that I like to do to encourage the true spirit of Halloween.  A frenzied child is a happy child.)

With so many children in our family, when I was little, Halloween was something we looked forward to all year. By the time it arrived, the anticipation was almost too much to bear; planning our costumes, digging through our closets and “the costume box” we could easily get ourselves worked into a dither . . . just thinking about being out after dark, anything could happen.  Free Candy!  The scavenger huntishness of the thing; oh booooyyyyy!!!!  We swallowed our grilled cheese sandwiches almost whole so we could get our makeup on and get out there!

Halloween isn’t as simple as it once was, but the kids don’t know that, all they know is how much fun it is.  It’s their time.  Something universal that seems to have been invented just for them. 

   We know so many of these people, it’s fun to see them on our porch!


We carve three pumpkins with stars, a really big one, a large one, and a medium one.

I draw the stars on with a pencil, then use a small sharp knife to do the cuts.  I sprinkle cinnamon on the inside of the tops, and pop in a votive candle. They light our front porch and look pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.



Windfall in the yard, branches that come down during storms, get recycled!

Joe got the pumpkins up above the door yesterday.

We make up a crock of steaming hot cider, and serve it in hand-warming cups-to-go to all the good moms and dads going patiently door-to-door with their children.  If we add spiced rum to it, it becomes an “Undertaker.”

It gets dark by 5 ish, but our littlest ones start coming at dusk, so by 7 pm on Halloween, it’s pretty much all over.  And that’s when our friends come by for Texas Chili, Corn Pudding with Maple Syrup (in one of those darling leaf bottles), and homemade marshmallows we put on long forks and roast in the fireplace. We’re getting ready; this weekend we will cook up a storm.

And if that other storm, the one with the snow in it, should work it’s way over to us, we are ready for that too.

Because we are cozy here in the Heart of the Home and wishing you the very same. 

And because inquiring minds want to know . . .  we HAVE a winner for our darling cut-glass banana dish!!!  And suddenly, again, I’m wishing I had 1,740 of them!!! I sent the lucky person an email and will let you know when I hear back.  What I really loved was all of your comments!  Fabulous homemaking tips! I took notes! I already tried the one where you rub your onion-smelling hands on stainless steel and it takes away the smell — it works! Thank you so much girlfriends!  Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!   ♥  xoxo

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249 Responses to There’s a Snow Storm Heading our Way!

  1. Halloween has always been my favorite, favorite holiday!
    My daughter is a teacher and she’s made sure all her goblins celebrate the day. She’s also known for her costumes…this year she’s a cupcake. Waiting to see what Miss Maggie whips up is always fun.
    I’m glad at least one of my children inherited my love for all things Halloween!
    I loved your post…have a wonderful celebration!

  2. Terry says:

    Susan, your home looks absolutely beautiful!

    Our first home was in a great trick-or-treating neighborhood. It was such fun! Our home now is on a busy street and too far back off the road for anybody to be willing to come for candy. I still decorate though, but just inside. I hung the beautiful leaves in my kitchen window like you did. I was amazed at how quickly they shrunk up. They still look pretty though. Here in NJ, we are getting the snow storm right now. A strange sight for October. However, it should be back to nice fall weather for the kids on Monday. I am blessed to be an elementary school teacher and Halloween is great fun! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the work that you do.


  3. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan..and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! ((^^))…love your decorations for the BIG scary day…we live in St. Louis…(home of the World Champion Cardinals as of last night!)..and Halloween is HUGE around here….lots of decorations everywhere…including our house…orange lights…a spooky, yet friendly, ghost and many pumpkins of all sizes…my favorite though is my witch collection that graces our mantel….a collection of over 20 years….all different cute witches ( i call them
    “the girls”….all of them good..but fiesty!!! so…” bibbity bobbity boo” to you and joe from me and “the girls” here in the heartland…stay warm… : )p.s. practicial magic is my favorite too…….

    • sbranch says:

      Congratulations! The Cardinal, I have to say, is my favorite bird!!! So I’m happy they won, and I love St. Louis, so that’s reason number 2!! Congratulations! Bibbity Bobbity Boo!

      • Marilyn says:

        Congratulations to the Cardinals and their fans! It was quite a series, wasn’t it? We were on pins and needles the last 2 games….especially game 6!!

        I was rooting for the Rangers to win their first series, naturally. 🙂 Maybe, next year!

        Stay warm and safe everyone. I think I’ll watch Practical Magic tonight….one of my favorites, too.

        Marilyn (in Dallas)

  4. Linda Wattier says:

    You have sure got me in the mood for Halloween. My kids are all grown up now, but I have lots of memories of taking them trick or treating. We had so much fun! I still decorate and give out candy to all the kids. Love the vintage stuff. Maybe I’ll go out this afternoon and see if i can find any vintage halloween things in the shops. Thanks, your such an inspiration.

  5. Erin says:

    Halloween is my absolute favorite time of year, and Martha’s Vineyard my ultimate dream location… the combination of these two are complete heaven to me. It was, after all, your Autumn Book that made me fall in love with MV in the first place! ♥

  6. Rae Ann Roche says:

    Boo!!!..and a Happy Halloween to you and yours…we have not seen a snowflake yet this year here in western Minnesota…so glad because when we tried to turn on our furnace this year it wouldn’t turn on…hence a new furnace…just in time I’m afraid…I know you will stay cozy and warm and enjoy your Halloween~snow or no snow…

  7. Sara says:

    Hi Susan!!

    Your home looks absolutely wonderful! I love the ghost!!! I was just thinking about making some warm apple cider tomorrow.. perfect timing! Maybe some pumpkin chili to accompany it 🙂

  8. Lori says:

    It is a blustery Saturday afternoon and a rain shower just blew in. It is the perfect time to curl up with a good Halloween movie. Just wondering if you guys really got snow?! Your plans for the holiday sound/look wonderful.

  9. Sandra Gillanders says:

    Oh, your Halloween sounds and looks like so much fun. We live on a court with only a handful of children so Halloween is rather quiet here. Miss all the ding-dongs we used to have at our old home in CA. We still decorate but it’s just not the same. I’m making ghoul-losh, beef, onions, paprika and beef stock simmered and then served over noodles with a topping of sour cream. Reminds me of your beef chili. Yum! Know you will have a magical Halloween and watch out for those goblins and ghouls.
    Love your star pumpkins!

    • sbranch says:

      Eating sour cream over chili right now . . . we have a good storm going on outside, but no snow. Just lots of wind and rain! Happy Halloween Sandy!

  10. Rettabug says:

    I’m happy for whoever it was that won the beautiful glass banana compote, Susan.

    You might enjoy reading what this antiques dealer has posted about glass on his blog, “My Old Historic House”:


    I found it very interesting.

    Hoping you still have power at your house. It looks like awful weather on the news!


  11. TJ says:

    Snow, sleet, and cold winds in Virginia today but cozy inside with Seafood Chowder (shrimp, clams, corn, potato, roasted garlic, and a bit of cayenne) and corn muffins (baked by 7-year old granddaughter) for dinner. The scenery from my kitchen window is absolutely beautiful…emerald green grass; gold, rust and red leaves; the chocolate brown of wet tree branches, along with thick, swirling puffs of snow…everything looks so sparkly clean.

    Such a contrast from last Halloween when we were out and about without coats and winter gear.

    • sbranch says:

      We are still storming here, but no snow, by Halloween, it will be all dry and cold . . . good for the kids!

  12. Jen says:

    Thank you for giving us a window into your darling life on Martha’s Vineyard! We are looking forward to Halloween in our small town of Marshall, Michigan as well! All the big victorian painted ladies are all dolled up and ready for the hundreds of trick or treaters! I will have over 300 at my door! I can’t wait!!! Happy Halloween! 🙂

  13. Cindy Tuning says:

    I’m sorry to say I’ve always been a bit of a Halloween Scrooge but you sure do make it look fun! Now May Day,for some reason is a’non-holiday’ that I really get into.I leave baskets of flowers tied to my neighbors front door knobs before they get up in the morning.Kind of like Trick or Treating in reverse.Weird huh? Oh well I guess that’s what makes the world go round. I AM going to carve stars in my pumpkins and put cinnamon in them though. Love that!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, just pick out the good parts! 🙂 My favorite holiday is Valentine’s Day, for the same reason, it’s a non-holiday to me, but has all kinds of little wonderful things about it.

  14. Tiina says:

    I’m jealous of your snowy weather. Here in the Central Valley in Cali it was 78 today. We’re longing or fall to get here and you already have winter! I just love your blog and I enjoy Halloween just as much as the next one. We’re making your touch down chilli and vampire bites on Halloween too! Susan your blog brings me happiness and a longing for the east coast. Here in Cali seasons are still so hard to find. I hope you are snuggly warm and enjoying this little bit of snow. Warm thoughts are coming your way from California.
    xo Tiina

    • sbranch says:

      I know about the seasons of California, they have their charms, especially on a beautiful February afternoon, lunch on a restaurant porch, overlooking the sea . . . but there is nothing like a good nor’easter to wake up the system! When I longed for autumn in California, I drove through the wine country, because the vines turned color and it was always so beautiful.

  15. Vicki b says:

    congratulations to banana dish winner.. love your house looks so cosy.. we live in a 15th century cottage in kent england one of the oldest houses in the village but unfortunately no trick or treaters down here as live a mile down lane from the village but will be having a small halloween tea party for my toddlers and friends children playing few games and decorating the house a bit .. love halloween and christmas favourite time of the year just love the excitement and cosyness of it all… wishing u all a happy halloween x

    • sbranch says:

      Love Kent! So happy to hear from you! A Halloween tea party sounds a lot more civilized than what is going to be going on around here tomorrow night! Would love that!

      • Cindy Tuning says:

        Had to say Hello to Vicki B! We have cousins in Kent..Sittingbourne and have been there a few times.They stayed at our house for a week this summer for Aunt Emily’s 80th birthday.Small world. Cheers!!

  16. Cindy says:

    We will have many “trick or treaters” on Halloween night in our neighborhood here in South Carolina. Mrs. Scarecrow is sitting on a chair by the front door waiting to greet them. Happy Halloween!

  17. Lisa says:

    I used to love Halloween – every year I would decorate to the max with Halloween “stuff.” This year, I don’t know what has happened. I just don’t have the desire to go all out. I didn’t even put my black creepy tree on the front table. Not to be too much of a witchy woman, I did put out two carved pumpkins and some gourds and we did manage to buy a ton of candy. To celebrate the coming of fall, I made butternut squash soup today with corn bread muffins. Honestly, Susan, I thought of you earlier today and wanted to make something Susan Branch-ish for dinner. Just as I was setting the table, I spotted the framed Pumpkin Cake recipe I got from Country Living years ago, so I’ll make that tomorrow. Your recipes are all so good. Happy Halloween!

    Lisa B.

  18. Janice B says:

    We were gone training firefighters all weekend, got home Monday afternoon (called ahead to a friend to get us candy….almost forgot!). Got the pumpkins out to the front porch (not carved…bummer), but did get the votives into my black square with pumpkin face cutouts lanterns and the two candles next to each. I always play “Young Frankenstein” on the TV by the front door(so we can watch it while waiting for the kids) and I have a glow in the dark ring to put in the candy bowl lined with the orange cloth napkins full of the “good” candy bars, and a glow in the dark neckless to wear on my black shirt. Want to stay in the spirit. I always save out a few of the favorites for us. I also make sure we give out “all” the others so none are left to eat :). As daylight savings wasn’t over….we had to wait till nearly 7pm for dark and the kids……but it was worth the wait. Sooo cute they were this year. Well, lots of ideas for next year. That party after for the grown ups sounds like a great idea. Stay warm out there. California is headed for a cold spell also. Looking forward to more of your blog…..your train trip gave us so many ideas. Thanks!
    Janice B

  19. Ana says:

    Love to see how you celebrate Halloween. For me it’s like in the movies. And the best part is the last picture of your house. You have a very beautiful house. In Spain the 1st of November people usually visit cementeries to clean their family graves (niches for the most part) and to put some fresh flowers.

  20. Linda says:

    I just love the ghost in the window I looked all over the web for he made of cheesecloth? Maybe I will try my hand at making one! So adorable Thanks for all you do i have your very cookbook and i don’t even cook!! But I love it and so does my husband who has done the cooking for 38 years!

  21. Victoria says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am so happy for you! !!! Jack is darling!… and so lucky to have such loving parents and a beautiful home! Getting along with his older sister is another thing, but may not take as long as you might think. After experiencing this several times, I have found that a good method to get him used to his new home might be to put him in his carrying case or a small crate where he can see out and take him to different places in the house so he can see and sniff in the safety of the crate. After that put the crate on the floor and let his sister sniff him in the crate. There may be some hissing and fussing at first until she gets used to the idea of having a new little brother, but after awhile, maybe a few days of these little visits, when they calm down ,then you can try opening the crate and see if Jack feels comfortable enough to come out. They should get along pretty well since they are male and female. I’m thinking little Jack is going to be nimble and quick and so much fun!
    I just love tuxedos and am so happy for you! We have our little Squeegee who keeps us laughing… Good luck with Jack or nick name, Jock or…….? 🙂

  22. Marti says:

    He’s a cutie! One of our cats is a Tuxedo (mixed with Norwegian Forest cat so long body, long fur). Our Max has a little white mustache on black. I’ve read that Tuxedos are supposedly very smart cats. I’ll vouch Max is highly alert, very curious and playful (signs of intelligence in the cat realm). His favorite game is when he notices our other male cat, Dave or “Davy Doodle”, approaching, he’ll hunker down behind something or around a corner and wait until he strolls by, then jump out, swat the other cat’s departing tail or rear end and take off, hoping he’ll be pursued. And he’ll do things just to get our attention – like put a paw up on an upholstered chair as if to start scratching and then slyly look over to see if you notice. When he’s scolded, he runs to the room he shares with my oldest daughter and jumps in his “time out box”- a long boot box where he leaps under a flap and squirms inside. It’s as if he’s saying “you can’t punish me, I’m already punishing myself, so there!” If Jack’s true to his heritage, Girl Kitty is going have her paws full as he grows and probably needs to start getting in shape now!

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