Any Old House in the Storm . . .

An old house is a wonderful place to be during a big nor’easter; our old girl is standing strong against the storm this morning, her cornices and gables creaking a bit; wind gusts crash through the old Linden trees, shake the timbers of the maples, the shutters clunk against the house, and raindrops are coming at her sideways, pattering against the windows the way they’ve done here for 150 years of storms. 

I lit a candle, just in case we lose electricity.  In my studio, it’s cozy under lamplight, with my tea and kitty, my wooly “England” shawl around my shoulders, lambswool slippers, paintbrushes and paper; the furnace is humming, Joe’s still asleep, I have the house all to myself; we are safe and sound.

Old houses know how to handle these things.

Here’s the view from the upstairs window yesterday afternoon just as the storm was getting started — our ghost keeps watch over the street.  It was cold on our walk through the woods yesterday morning, cold enough for hats, big jackets, and gloves . . .  the wild geese flew, in a scattered V line, over the pond, their barking cries high in the sky, blown back at us by the wind, providing more food for deep thinking; more scientific examination: . . . me: “Where do you think they’re going?”  Joe:  “I don’t know.  South.”   me: “Thank you.”   Me: “How do they know where to stop?” Joe: “Their parents?”

We said goodbye to our dear friends who were out there closing their house for the winter; we picked bittersweet from the secret cache that grows around their house.  By the time we got home and out of the car, the storm was near, tattered leaves were blowing around us and over us like tickertape.

So we blew around with them, like in the Wizard of Oz, battening down the hatches, pulling the heavy barn doors closed,  filling the bird feeders, hanging dried corn on the kitchen door, putting storms on the kitchen windows; we brought in the mums and ornamental cabbage and put them on the pantry floor so they wouldn’t get beaten up by the storm.  We got it all done, cut the last rose from the garden, just as the rain started in earnest; we ran inside, hung up our coats, took off our boots; Joe made us a fire, and I made us grilled cheese sandwiches!

There is, of course, a right way and a wrong way to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  And I believe, with all due respect to other grilled cheese sandwich makers, that I have it down perfect.  There is no folderol involved; I don’t really want fou-fou on my grilled cheese. Mangos or cranberry sauce, sorry, do not belong on a grilled cheese sandwich. No olives or sardines, and no Boursin cheese.  If those things are on it, and maybe they would taste good, I’m not sure, but they should choose another name for sandwiches like that.  They shouldn’t call them “grilled cheese.”  A good grilled cheese sandwich should be made with plain, normal cheddar cheese, melted to a complete puddle on good toasty bread; not greasy, or white in some spots and dark in others. I like them exactly like my mother made them;  crunchy, bendy, buttery, melty; simple plain perfection.  Is that asking too much, restaurants of America?  I think it must be.  Not you of course, but perhaps you know someone who needs grilled cheese guidance?  Tell them about this.  Friends don’t let friends go through life unschooled in the fine art of grilled cheese making. 

So here’s how it’s done: first off, I don’t butter the inside of the bread at all; there’s enough oil in the cheese to take care of the inside of the sandwich.  Just lay out two pieces of healthy whole-grain bread (sourdough also makes a wonderful grilled cheese).  Cover one piece of bread with slices of good cheddar cheese.  (Cheddar cheese on Martha’s Vineyard is white, in California, it’s yellow.  We don’t know why.)

Then cover the cheese with the other slice of bread, and butter the top with soft real butter.

Then melt a pat of butter over medium high heat in a skillet.

Put the unbuttered side of the sandwich down, and cover the pan; reduce the heat to medium low.  In a few minutes, take off the lid, and press down hard on the sandwich with a spatula.  This spatula-pressing is the secret to a tight well-made sandwich. Cover again and keep cooking until . . .

. . . it’s evenly toasted; turn it over, press down on it hard with the spatula, and cover the pan again.

Cook until it’s perfect, when the melty goodness begins to leak out of the middle, the edges are crunchy and a buttery-brown toasted color.  Scoop it out of the pan and put it on a serving plate and cut it in half.  This is a deeeeelicious grilled cheese sandwich.

It breaks in your mouth like a cracker. Take it to the fireplace, or to the TV and turn on a good old movie, like The Bishop’s Wife, put your feet up.

You might need to pamper yourself today, and this would be a wonderful way to do it . . . grilled cheese and old movie, will make you forget any kind of possible disappointment —  everyone might need a little of this, everyone but the WINNER of our banana dish, and she can make herself a grilled cheese to celebrate!!

Yes, I’ve been leading us, the good, toasted-cheese way, up to announce that the winner of our drawing is SARA DeCOEUR, who’s in Florida right now, getting her kids ready for Halloween.   She wrote: “I LOVE that beautiful banana holder!!!!  It is quite glorious!  My housekeeping tips are 1) baking soda – it does wonders!  and 2) pump up the music and make it a game so the kids do most of the work!!!! LOL!”

When I wrote to tell her she won, this was her reaction: “OH HAPPY ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yippeee!!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! And might I add, I really adore your blog! It warms my heart!”

So I think she was happy! ♥  And she takes excellent advantage of the exclamation point!  A girl after my own heart!!!!!! Her banana dish will go off to her on Monday, with a little thank you note, so she knows (just like I hope the rest of you do), how much she’s (and you’re) appreciated.  ♥  And don’t worry, there will be a lifetime of other chances!!!!!! 

 So here’s my day today:  we need to put the candy in the big wooden bowls, carve stars in our pumpkins, brew up a big pot of cider, cook a small feast, make basket arrangements with the ornamental cabbages and mums; set the dining table with plates and cups, and generally spruce up the house for our aprés-candy Halloween Open House tomorrow night, and for the rest of the season.

 When Joe went to get the candy, he found these colorful leaf garlands and brought them home, so I’m playing around with them; and also trying to figure out where his purple twinkle lights will look the best!  We’ll get the bittersweet out of the car and decorate the porch, and put the scary candles on the front stairs so they’ll all see them when we open the door to “trick or treat!”

The kitchen table is ready!  It’s going to be a fun couple of days in the house of creativity, and I’ll take lots of pictures.  Hope yours is wonderful too!  Thank you all so much for your part in our giveaway; I learned so many new household hints from you, that was fun!  Have a wonderful day, stay warm, stay cozy, and be happy.  xoxo

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196 Responses to Any Old House in the Storm . . .

  1. Francine says:

    Nothing better than warm and cozy! And bittersweet! I have had a hard time finding it around here! Tonight it’s very windy with rain coming down and leaves too! Today I went with my daughter and grandkids to my mom’s place. I recently moved her to a assisted living place and I mentioned to the owner that I bet the people that lived there would love it if little kids came to trick or treat! They thought it was a fantastic idea and invited family members of the people that live there. They had a great turn out, and it warmed my heart to see the smiles on the peoples faces as they sat by their doors and handed out candy to all the darling dressed up tots! They also had coloring pages and a lovely sweets table set up for anyone attending. Yum!!!! A fun day, before the rain!

    • love Francine’s idea of trick or treating at her mom’s assisted living! We’ve been jealously watching news of the nor’easter, wishing for snow and rain and leaves blowing everywhere….but alas we are in Austin, sunny and our “cold front” has everyone excited about the chilly 50° temps at night. Delivering witches fingers to friends today, carving the pumpkin and looking forward to lots of little Trick or Treaters tonight. Happy Halloween Susan and everyone who reads your happy blog…….like having a warm cup of tea and a chocolate chip scone on Halloween morn–thanks!

  2. Jerri Ellen says:

    Trick or treat, trick or treat, give me something good to eat….a GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH! tHE

  3. Peggy Cooper says:

    Oh good, I’ve been doing it right. And like many others who have responded, usually have with tomato soup. My dear husband dunks his sandwich in the soup, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Takes away from the texture.

    BTW, my library finally was able to get a copy of Hobson’s Choice for me, so I watched it the other night and loved it. Thanks for the suggestion. Happy Halloween!!!

  4. We also live in an old girl in the Pacific Northwest. She holds firm in the wind storms that funnel through the mountains, but when the temp. dips into the 20’s there is no keeping her warm.
    My husband and I have a ongoing debate on grilled cheese. I say no smashing, he says to smash it. He is gloating that he was “right”. I told him it was simply a matter of opinion!

  5. I grew up on the Canadian prairies on one of North America’s wild goose flyways. Now I live near the west coast but we still get a few flocks of Canada geese flying over, heading south (smart birds!). The sound of their honking in the fall always makes me homesick for the prairie farm.

  6. Deb Huch says:

    I made grilled cheese for dinner tonight just as you taught us. They were wonderful!!!
    Thanks so much, Deb.

  7. Charlene Hisayasu says:

    Hello Susan! Thank you for sharing a bit of your New England Autumn heaven with us! Thankful that your cross-country trip was completed before the storm and that you are snug and cozy!
    Congratulations to Sara for winning the Glass banana dish! ENJOY, Sara! 🙂
    Happy Halloween to all the kids and young-at-heart! <3

  8. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    Oh Susan – it is so good to read your post – everyday. Beautiful pictures, ideas and memories as always. We totally agree with your grilled cheese sandwiches! This is how we make them and they have the secret ingredient in them like yours does. We always ask our grandchildren if they know what it is. They’ve figured it out and just blush and giggle. So sweet. BTW – I LOVE your kitchen. So warm and homey, old fashionedy, and smells soooo good! Congrats to Sara and Happy Halloweeny everyone!

  9. Susan in SC says:

    So glad your Joe picked up a leaf garland for you. I adore them! I secured leaf garlands around the frame of my first grade classroom door every fall for 29 years. The children loved them, and my co-workers came to expect them as a harbinger of autumn. Fun memories.

  10. Pat Mofjeld says:

    I had to laugh when I saw the bittersweet patch in this posting. While Norm and I were dating, I was always looking for bittersweet in the state parks and carried a garden cutting scissors in case I found some–it was like treasure hunting! It was a joke between us that I would be arrested for picking something in a state park!!! Then when we got into schnauzers and I found out that bittersweet is extremely poisonous to pets, I changed to silk bittersweet to decorate with. I have a strand of very real-looking bittersweet that we circle around the colonial style chandelier in the dining room over the table. It is chili and cornbread with apple Waldorf salad supper for us tomorrow (Halloween) night–Happy Halloween Susan, Joe, Girl Kitty, and everyone else out there! 🙂

  11. Nancy B says:

    I love your little window with the black and white checked valance and Joe’s pretty leaf garland. It reminds me of your style of watercolor painting. The garland just sets it off perfectly. Good job Joe!

  12. Sandra Gillanders says:

    I love your BLOG!!! Makes me feel just like I’m there with you. Can you put another sandwich on, I’d love one. Grilled cheese is one of my favorite sandwiches. My son Scott was just telling me of a place that puts branches of bittersweet out at roadside and asks that a small donation be put in a box (honor system). Hoping I can “buy” a little for the house, it’s so appealing for Halloween. Think your place looks very cute and inviting to all those who come down your street. The ghost in window is perfect looking down on the festivities and such a pretty lace curtain too! Thanks for always making me feel warm and cozy when it’s cold outside.

  13. K. F. Ross says:

    Oh, Susan Branch, how you’ve tortured me with that beautiful bittersweet! It is my absolute FAVORITE fall foliage, but we have none here in southside Virginia. And red sugar-maple leaves!! None of those either! Makes me so sad. I miss those colors so much! But we do have grilled cheese sandwiches – ha ha! A great comfort food! When I was a little girl, my godmother made the best grilled cheese sandwiches . . . it was the only thing she could cook – ha ha! (She baked and served a pie once . . . when my dad stuck his fork into his piece of pie, the crust was so hard that the pie flew off the plate! Still makes me laugh!) Thank you for sharing the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of autumn! Your blog always takes me on a quick trip down memory lane . . . a nice place to visit.

  14. Kristina says:

    I’m so glad to know my momma taught me the right way to make a grilled cheese- because I make mine the same exact way! Even down to the pressing with the spatula. : ) My work brought in grilled cheese sandwiches for us today and I was so happy, until I noted big slices of tomato in them. While I like tomatoes, it was just not the same as the good ol’ fashioned variety you described. I think I will have to make myself one tomorrow while waiting for all the ghosts and goblins to drop by for treats. 🙂

  15. Veronica says:

    Oh! Happy!! Banana Day!!!

  16. Veronica says:

    I feel the autumn atmosphere.I smell the grilled cheese; And yes,there is the (one and only)way to make grilled cheese.Agreeably so!!! All,is very right with the world.
    This Night
    On this,the hallows eve
    the night of all the nights;
    ‘Black Magic’ for to weave
    to scare! and make a fright!

    Beware of goblins
    ghosts and ghouls;
    Beware of starry
    spells that fool!

    Screams! and thrills!
    and tricks at play;
    “Won’t you come,
    and walk this way?”

    On this the hallows
    eve of fright!
    This ‘spell of magic’,
    ‘spell of night’……
    Happy Halloween Everyone???

  17. Vicki b says:

    Great post mmm just tuckin into my grilled cheese now.. delish.. was contemplating eggy bread for brekky then discovered no eggs!! but this is the perfect replacement 🙂 love your posts look forward to reading them every day.. hope you are all ok over there after the storm im sure it will be hitting the uk as well in a number of weeks so will make sure we’re well prepared so far plenty of logs for the logburner just need to fill my cupboards now with plenty of baking ingrediants and comfort foods.. living down a lane in country no chance of us getting to shops if get snowed in although do love cosyness of all being home together and snuggling in front of the fire with a good film.. much love xx

  18. Pamela Jo says:

    “Double, double, toil and trouble…”

    Happy Halloween to all! We have “double trouble” around here this morning…road closures and power outages abound. School is closed and the wee ones are thrilled! Can’t remember a time in my life when school was canceled on Halloween due to snow. They already had their “Fall Ball” last week, so won’t miss any festivities…No longer allowed to have “Halloween” costume parties, as our school district has deemed it “inappropriate” to celebrate the holiday! So glad I was a child in the 1960’s when nobody cared about political correctness or safety. Those were the “Good Old Days” when kids could still enjoy being kids! Most of my toys had sharp edges, heating elements, small parts, and we played in the dirt until we all looked like “Pig Pen” from The Peanuts! FUN! Miraculously, I’ve survived to a ripe old age after all those years of “inappropriate” conduct! LOL!

    Going to make grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch today, thanks to those wonderful photos which have me drooling! Wishing everyone a “SPOOKTACULAR” day!

  19. Becky Bruner says:

    Another dreamy post, my friend! Thank you for warming my old fashioned heart! HAVE A SPOOKY HALLOWEEN!

  20. Philippa says:

    Your photos are wonderful.In fact I put on about 2 pounds in weight just looking at your toasted cheese sandwich !

  21. Holly says:

    Good morning! Your blog always puts me in a cozy, homey, creative mood!. You make grilled cheese exactly like I do, yum…. I could live on grilled cheese and vegetable soup. Since I’m in the right mood, it’s sewing time. Thanks for letting us know you safe and sound.

  22. Patsy says:

    Gosh, I can’t believe I actually make a grilled cheese sandwich with your method. I don’t cover it, though, which I’ll do the next time I make one. Good excuse for that process coming up weekend. And the bittersweet………….oh my goodness, do I love it!!!!!!!!!! But here in Florida, it just doesn’t grow. Last year my friend in Kentucky sent me a little bunch tied up with twine. A perfect gift. Thank you so much for sharing the bittersweet “field.” Would I love to be in the midst of that! Must be something about FL and the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Ann Y. says:

    Glad you weathered the storm in cozy comfort ! Wanted to tell you that I had never heard of Practical Magic and when I saw the clip on the blog I thought….oooh, perfect ! So I tried all of the libraries around me, and no luck…everyone had thought of it and checked it out. Then I tried all the retail places I could buy it….no luck again. I was resigned to waiting to get my hands on a copy for next Halloween. Yesterday morning after church, enjoying our ritual of muffins, tea, and the newspaper, my darling husband looked up from the newspaper television listings and said “hey, I think that movie you are looking for is going to be on tonight !”…..OK, a few magic things happened here: 1) how lucky am I that my soul mate listens to me when I babble on and remembers what I said, 2) since we had tickets for a play last night ( Pippin, community theatre, wonderful) we could DVR it – what did I do without my DVR?,and3) after all the Trick or Treaters are snug in their beds tonight I get to snuggle into my couch and watch Practical Magic. Thanks for sharing the information so I can have my own treat ! You are a blessing !

  24. Nellie says:

    What a pleasure! Now I have a reason to look forward to lunch – a good grilled cheese sandwich, a la Susan Branch! Thank you so much!
    I will spend today cooking, preparing lunch which I will provide tomorrow for the participants and staff of the adult day care program at our church.
    Happy Halloween, everyone! xoxo

    • Gert says:

      Oh Nellie you are such a busy lady! You remindme of the Energizer just keep going & going! smile…. You are just one of God’s very special people! Always love to read your comments here & on my blog!

      Bless you…Gert

  25. Elaine Golling says:

    Good Morning Susan ~
    I loved reading about your Noreaster coming……it’s so fun to feel cozy!!
    My Mom taught me to make grilled cheese sandwhiches just the way you do, except without covering them – so I’m going to try that today at lunchtime! My (retired) husband will be happy about that 🙂 Recently I tried combining butternut squash soup & tomato soup — had it with grilled cheese, and yummy combo! Have a wonderful, cheery, cozy Halloween in your great old house!
    xoxoxo Elaine

  26. Elaine Golling says:

    P.S. We now have white cheddar cheese here in Northern CA too! We love it!!!
    (We buy it at the Santa Cruz Costco~ in case any of you in the area are looking for it)………Gotta go finish decorating the front porch now………Enjoy your day!!

  27. Karen P says:

    CONGRATS, SARA! I remember reading that comment and thinking “How cute!”

    Don’t you just LOVE The Bishop’s Wife?! One of my absolute favorites….but, alas, I am a Christmas movie “purist” and cannot bring myself to treat myself to that movie until at least after Thanksgiving. I carved a “starry” pumpkin today for Trick-or-Treating later this afternoon, complete with your tip about the cinnamon! It’s dreary and gloomy but not dark enough to light it yet. Can’t wait until later! Love all your tips! I cannot wait each day to see what the new day brings on the Susan Branch blog! My kids tease me endlessly about what new Susan Branch obsession I’ll have today but, hey, my daughter took your tip about serving Butternut Squash soup in little shot glasses as appetizers and went out and purchased a whole supply of cute little glasses at thrift stores in anticipation of trying it! Ha! So THERE, I say to my kiddos!!!! xoxo…kp

    • Priscilla says:

      “The Bishop’s Wife” is my absolute favorite too! For Halloween I love to watch Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane in “Arsenic and Old Lace”. You might like this movie also.

    • Grace says:

      Karen, I was just thinking how much I love The Bishop’s Wife and wondering if I will have time to find it on dvd so I can watch it during the holiday season. I can’t bring myself to watch it until then, but I can watch White Christmas any time of the year. Wonder why?

  28. Brenda says:

    I just love reading your blog and looking at all the beautiful pictures. It makes my heart smile. I’m going to try your grilled cheese sandwich for lunch this weekend when my husband is home from work, it’s something I think he will enjoy very much. Thanks for the recipe and for just being you. Sending you the biggest hugest hug ever!

  29. Linda Ishmael says:

    Love the ghost in the window!! From the position you shot the picture this time I think I can make one, if it is alright with you? I think a wire tomato cage and extra wire and white material plus the light I can create a similiar ghost. Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes! The fabric on mine is heavy cotton and REALLY STARCHED.

    • Donna Hamilton says:

      I have made a small ghost (3 ft tall) from a wire tomato cage using stiff cotton canvas. I used black felted wool for his eyes and mouth and yellow to put the word “BOO” near the bottom. Wrap a strand of Christmas Tree Lights around the tomato cage to light the ghost. I began by making a pattern from newspaper to fit the ghost over the tomato cage. A lady that lives near me has a ghost made like I described that is over 5 foot tall (large tomato cage) and he is fantastic. You can make a snowman for Christmas using the same process. Happy Halloween!!!!!!!

  30. Deneice Sorenson says:

    Oh, isn’t it wonderful to receive a great surprise, Sara! Congratulations on winning the banana dish! The time was right to clean out my tomato plants and get them out of the ground this weekend. And seeing the grilled cheese sandwich put me right in the mood for homemade tomato soup to go along with it. With the cold outside, it was the p-e-r-fect meal to enjoy!! Every spoonful and every bite, d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!!! This blog puts a smile on my face everytime!!

  31. Linda Wattier says:

    Linda Wattier from South Dakota replies: Sorry your having a storm for Halloween! Just went to the mailbox and it is a beautiful day! Sun is shining , supposed to hit 65 or so! Won,t last long with changing weather coming in tonight. Sounds like our first snow coming! The grilled cheese sounds so good. Thanks for the inspiration!

  32. Rebekah says:

    Reading your blog makes me happy.
    End of sentence.
    Well, not quite end.
    Let me add, “Thank you, Susan, for that gift…”
    Now, the end.

  33. Lori C. says:

    Susan Dear!
    You are such a culinary genius! (*homemakeris extraordinaris*)
    Thank you (!) for explaining how to make a proper grilled cheese – I have been fumbling for years (oh, dopey me!) by trying to butter both sides of the bread before grilling them (and getting butter all over my hands – or worse trying to butter it while it was sizzling in the pan) – duh! – how simple to just drop a pat of butter in the pan for the unbuttered side!
    This ranks right up there with your proper bologna sandwich recipe!!

    Sunday morning I took a walk down our historic Mount Vernon Avenue – which goes all out for the kiddies for Halloween – my favorite home had ghosts hanging from the trees made out of antique Quaker lace tablecloths.

  34. Terry says:

    Hi, Susan!

    My mother-in-law taught me to make grilled cheese sandwiches the same way you do. Yes, they are yummy! My kids like tomato soup with them.

    Due to the recent storm, Halloween in my town in NJ has been postponed until Friday. There are too many trees and wires down, so it is not safe for the trick-or-treaters. School is closed today too. I am looking forward to Friday though – I want to make it really special for my students. I imagine that they are very disappointed today. Well, maybe not too much, they did get the day off.

    I am looking forward to seeing your Halloween pictures.


  35. Pat says:

    Happy Halloween Susan and Joe! I’m glad to hear your home weathered the storm well. It looked so cozy and warm in your photos. I love grilled cheese sandwiches and yours looked so good on thta nice hearty bread.

    Thankfully, where I live in Brooklyn, NY, we had a mix of snow and rain, so we did not get snow accumulation or downed tree limbs and power outages like so many other places. Today is sunny & bright and I expect hundreds ( yes, hundreds) of “Trick or Treat-ers” — one year I had over 350 children come to my door as I ran out of candy and had to give out pennies instead. Many of the children were excited to get money 🙂



  36. Carol C says:

    I’m not jealous of your snow yet. We are having a beautiful crisp day in East TN. We drove to the mountain apple orchards on Sat. and bought apples and cider. today I’m making apple butter and starting my yearly re-reads of Gladys Taber between the stirrings. Later on, yes!, I’ll be jealous of snow but for now my world is just the way it should be!

  37. Robin in New Jersey says:

    That grilled cheese sandwich looks delicious! I also like cheddar on mine. My children only like American cheese on theirs! I like to put a little bit of yellow mustard inside the bread after it’s grilled. To each his own!

    We are recovering from a foot of snow on Saturday. There are tree branches down all over the place. Roads are blocked off, street lights are out, makes driving somewhere a big pain. But, I had to go out. 🙁 Oh well, life goes on!

    Truly we are blessed to have out power on. So many do not.

    I am pulling all your books off the shelf to pile onto the coffee table and enjoy them. It’s been while since I browsed their pages and they are beckoning me!

    An old friend of mine lives on Mathas Vineyard and her husband passed last week. . . I wonder if my friend has ever met you. I shall have to ask her.

  38. Jennie says:

    Love to hear about all your cozy-goings-on. We had our first fire last night and played a rousing family game of ‘Yahtzee Junior’ along with the candle light.
    Would’ve baked some treats, but I was reminded that tonight my boys will be replenishing the candy bowl for me, and soon our house will be running over with mini snickers bars and milky ways. I get to pick my favorites from their horde- it’s payment for taking them out in the wet and cold! 😉
    Enjoy all your costume visitors and happy homemaking!

  39. Gert says:

    Oh Susan, I absolutely loved this blog posting.. Saturday, I was showing your previous blogs to my sister in law & she was oohing & awwing about your ghost in the window along with your beautiful house! She talked about how sturdy and sound those houses must be on MV to have withstood all those storms over the years…and then to read this post reaffirming that very fact was so ironic!

    Love the grilled cheese sandwich tutorial! Everybody does it a little different don’t they? We always used American cheese but yours looks so much better! smile…

    Enjoy tonight and have Joe take lots of pictures…smile…

    Happy Halloween!

  40. Sara says:

    Yummy! Love Grilled cheese!! Love the blog, Love Susan, and love all of the great people on here too! 🙂 I wish I could find bittersweet here 🙁

  41. Trish says:

    As with so many of your posts, I read this entry to my mother. However, when I got to “folderol”, I announced, “I’ve never heard that word before.” My mother’s face turned a whiter shade of pale (hat-tip to Procol Harum) and she expressed disbelief at my ignorance. My mother is now certain that she accidentally omitted important bits of knowledge during my upbringing. Clearly, I’m still able to frighten Mom on Halloween.

    Ad campaign: Susan Branch’s blog fills in those pesky vocabulary gaps. 🙂

  42. Deneice Sorenson says:

    And we’re off… with the start of the bewitching hour! May you all have a Happy Halloween!! The doorbell’s ringing….

  43. Janie Phillips says:

    Congratulations to Sara! I like her attitude 🙂

    It would be impossible to read this post without getting into the Autumn~Halloween spirit, as well as getting really hungry for a grilled cheese sandwich. I wonder how many of us made one after reading this? I did!

    And I can’t go without mentioning morning science … LOL … you two are wonderful. Thanks for the laugh 🙂

  44. Buzz'n Bea says:

    I said last week, I am now on the hunt for a Banana Dish. Guess what my friend and I found in the first antique mall we visited? Not only one, but 2 dishes. One was milk glass, not our style, and the “piece la de resistance” a pressed glass one with a yellowish tint. Perfect for her just redone farm kitchen. $20.00, she asked if that was the best they could do, they gave her a 10% discount. We did not have time to do more hunting, so the hunt continues.
    Hope you had a great haunting night!! Looking forward to hearing your stories of the night and pix to go with them. Blessings.
    PS: btw the people at the mall did not know what they really were. Learn something new everyday. :>)

  45. Amy Lynn says:

    We also live in an old home, and with all of her southern charm, during the winter she becomes somewhat of an old hag! ha ha! We have family members that call our home “the cave” because~ anyone that has loved an old charmer will tell you~ they are impossible to keep warm in the winter! Having grown up in an old home, with 10ft ceilings, and ceiling to floor windows, and drafty doorways- I learned early in life to PUT ON EXTRA CLOTHING!! 🙂 Besides, with my sinus problems, I do better in the cooler air anyway. As for the grilled cheese sandwich, Im with you, the simpler the better… I think my grilled cheese sandwich is how I won my sweeties heart! <3
    I no longer do the Holloween thing, but I am sure that you have had lots of fun tonight with all of the fun traditions that you & Joe have. Have a blessed evening!
    Amy Lynn

  46. Fiddlesticks says:

    Great post, love grill cheese and yes thats just the way to make them.!
    Be well and cosy during this storm.
    Love old houses..

  47. A Grilled Cheese should be *exactly* as you showed; only one problem . . when a grilled cheese is as good as that, one is simply never enough! I do on a very rare occassion put a small dollop of Branston Pickle or a couple of pickled shallots on the side in a vain attempt to convince myself that there is a vegetable portion with the sandwich . . dearie me!
    I hope you had your Trick or Treaters! Such Fun . . sadly, because I live at the bottom of a muddy, dark lane, we do not get callers these days. I do so miss Hallowe’en from my days living in the States. Such Fun . .

  48. Andi M says:

    Perfect grilled cheese method. I often use the English Muffin bread from the bakery. This bread kids will accept without a blink. It makes the best outside crispieness.

  49. Darlene says:

    OK…now I have to have a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch…or just maybe…for breakfast? By the way…you can get white cheddar here in California…usually in specialty shops.

  50. Elizabeth says:

    I hope the severe storm did not diminish your Halloween celebration. I’ve been wanting to mention what I love about your kitchen. You haven’t been compelled to
    have granite, stainless steel — to remodel/renovate. Your kitchen has a history, a personality, a character. It’s you and Joe and others who have cooked and loved there before. My tiny one too.

  51. Mary says:

    Dear Susan, our home is also getting some seasons on her. She’s about 65 now, and ready for retirement! LOL!!! We’re very lucky to have lost power & heat for only 31 hrs.

    The grilled cheese looks absolutely delicious! Something for my “cheat” day! Love the bittersweet! My sister, who is an extremely talented florist, especially with natural elements made me a stunning bittersweet wreath!

    Have a Happy Day!

  52. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Happy Day- After- Halloween Susan! Hope you have recovered from the storm, the little trick-or-treaters, and all the sweet treats. Just wanted to say “hello” before I say good-bye to my Marigolds and other annuals that must be plucked from the front flower beds. I was so sad yesterday when I tucked my roses to bed for the long winter weather. One lonely Shasta Daisy was among my flower bed in the back yard, standing tall, until I picked it and put it in my vase. I wish the flowers could bloom forever, but I know they will return next spring. (Atleast my Mums continue to splash a cranberry color among the fallen leaves.) I just love how Mother Nature decorates for fall, don’t you?

  53. Linda says:

    Susan, I love coming to your web site because you always have beautiful photos to look at. (Well, that’s one reason; there are many others.) I love the black and white gingham valance on your door (and the cute little apple decoration and the fall leaves draped over the valance) and the arrangement with the sunflowers. So beautiful for fall. It’s always cheerful here. I love that.

    Last night, I went backwards and enjoyed some of your earlier blog posts that I hadn’t seen before. I particularly enjoyed the one about the Illumination. Love all of those Chinese lanterns in pastel colors and houses in pastel colors. I’ve learned so much about Martha’s Vineyard from you.

    Have a fabulous day. ~ Linda (from Texas)

  54. Lee Ann G. says:

    Toasted cheese-YUMMY!!! Although my daughter who now lives in Pennsylvania but was raised in Indiana where I have always lived, makes fun of me now because I grew up calling these scrumptious sandwiches Cheese Toasties!! ..and so did she until she moved away! Now she says only in Indiana mom, with an attitude! ha ha Love her big time though, no matter what and I love me some Cheese Toasties any day of the year!

    I would love to find a patch of bittersweet like you found here Susan. Nothing says Autumn more!

    ♥Lee Ann

    • sbranch says:

      I guess it’s ‘invasive’ but I say, “invade me!” It’s in the perfect place that it can be invasive and cause no problems.

  55. Enikö says:

    Love the video of you collecting bittersweet! What a great touch! …Now I have to go downstairs & make me one of those delectable grilled cheese sandwiches! 🙂

  56. Susan, Your adorable cats will get along well, if you pay equal attention to them, as I know you probably do. I recently paid almost $300 in vet bills to bring a feral cat back to good health.. I couldn’t stand seeing him suffer, so I trapped him & took him to the vet. He’s doing well now. Thank heavens I can afford to help our furry friends. I consider the vet bill my contribution to the animal kingdom. I can see from the video that you’re having a wonderful time with your playful kitten.
    And, I love the way you respect each & every item you cook with. I’ve cooked with the same cast iron pots & pans I got when I was first married, fifty two years ago. I’ve got a minimal amount of cookware……..just what I need to make a wonderful meal. When I’m cooking, I often think to myself, “there’s really nothing more than I need, I’ve got everything I need.” I’m 73 years young & am a contented soul. It’s so good to read about others enjoying their homes & families. Some of our friends have to go here, there, everywhere. Me, I love HOME. Now that I’m retired (five years now), I think it’s so nice to be able to enjoy our home. We do travel a bit, but to my way of thinking, home is the very best. Sondra

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