Cookie Time

It’s cookie time again!  I mixed up my Annie Hall Butter Cookie dough yesterday to make these candy canes, hearts and trees; it’s in the fridge, chilling, to be rolled out when my nieces get here this weekend. 

What I love about this season is the colors, the twinkling lights, coming in from the cold, to the warm kitchen filled with cookie smells, pine tree smells, our walks out to the water in the morning, crackling fires, candlelight, secrets, jingle bells, all the old movies on TV. . . they get my heart going pitter-patter.

Yesterday we went to watch our girlfriend Martha (the multi-talented singing Martha in the video I did after our Thanksgiving dinner) and our other girlfriend, Annalee, give a Gingerbread House demonstration at the kitchen shop downtown on Main Street.

 Martha makes Gingerbread Houses every year; she’s a Gingerbread House artiste, has made castles out of gingerbread — she gallantly volunteered her time to our local kitchen shop to give us a basic lesson on how it’s done. 

S  W  E  E  T  !

She’s made Gingerbread Houses with Annalee, the daughter of our friend Annette, for the last three years!  Annalee is now an expert too.

Martha wrote this little How-to Book.






It’s full of expert insider tips for the important details of Gingerbread-House making.


 Because, the details on these houses, the kinds of cookies and candies used, the chimney, the trees, gingerbread girls and boys, candy cane decorations, scalloped roofs, shutters, and fences are what makes these houses so fun.  Lowely, our other girlfriend/neighbor who was there, had an idea to have pink cotton candy coming out of the chimney like smoke!  Cute!  Someone else thought of doing a wedding house, with all white and silver candies and decorations.  There was a springtime-house discussion that had white and pale-blue bunnies jumping all over the yard with pink sugar polka-dot icing on the roof.  Martha has made houses as gifts for her friends that match their own homes!  The sky is the limit with the imagination and these little houses. 

It’s so much fun to watch . . . They made it look easy!  I really don’t think you could make a mistake that would actually matter!!  These two girls were so cute, I wanted to make a Christmas decoration out of them and put them on my tree. ♥  

They made M A G I C  for all of us!  This is what I call community spirit!   Thank you Martha and Annalee!  When it was over we wandered around the kitchen shop (where we are in these photos) and I noticed the place was like a watercolor palette.









 The color was wonderful!  So much fun!  Had to take pictures, I knew you would love to see it!  And then, while I’m at it, speaking of color . . .

  This makes my heart skip a beat, I feel happier just looking at it!

Afterwards, we decided to walk through town so I could take pictures to show you.  Rainy Day is famous for the painted snow globe they create in their window every year. 

Our Main Street is only three blocks long, made up of year-round stores owned by hard-working local people. When it comes to community spirit and cheering the place up, our town may be small but its heart is as big as New York City.   

I know lots of you have been to the island and wonder what it looks like during the Holiday season.  So here you go: that’s Claudia’s on the right, looking up past Jane’s store, The Beach House; and then across the street to Gerda’s, Timeless Treasures.

Fred Fisher brings his sweet faced horses and wagon into town and takes people for rides; they clip-clop down Main Street to the ferry and up Beach Road, sleigh bells ringing.

Once a year, Tim Clark sets up his Christmas trees and wreaths in the middle of town.

Emily goes all-out decorating the windows in her darling vintage shop called Mix.

Just past Mix, there’s the harbor and the ferry.

Here’s Two Susans Shop, right next to Leslie’s Drug Store.

I read this wonderful thing the other day, written by Seth Grodin and it made so much sense to me, all about the why and wherefores of community and giving, and why the little things matter so much. . . I think you’ll love it as much as I did.  It’s short. 🙂 And really smart.

I bought this rose yesterday, just one, big enough to handle a whole room with all that gorgeous color!  Couldn’t resist taking a picture.  Couldn’t resist giving it to you! 

 This morning after I discovered that the storm we were having had blown the kitchen door wide open, freezing me all the way to my studio, I turned up the heat, and made myself a toasted English muffin.  I slathered it with homemade marmalade that Rachel brought with her when she came from England for Thanksgiving (thank you darling Rachel! ) and slipper-scruffed my way back into the studio with it and my tea.  Life is good.   Have a wonderful day girlfriends!  xoxo

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251 Responses to Cookie Time

  1. Rosinda says:

    What a beautiful post, filled with so much love and magic!! The gingerbread house is beautiful! Thanks for showing us around your beautiful neighbourhood. The pictures are all so beautiful…makes me want to jump right in! Thank you for the rose…it’s beautiful, and so are you! Happy Friday, sweetie! Rosinda xoxo

  2. Kelly J. says:

    Thanks for the colorful & cozy adventure through your town…and yes, those gum drops are therapeutic! LOL Have a wonderful Friday, Susan!

  3. Susan, just wanted to wish you and your nieces a Magical weekend full of laughs and fun…also, to all the “girlfriends” we can all remember when we were children that “giggly” excitement feeling?? that is what I am wishing for all of you (I don’t think that is just reserved for children)!!! Merry Christmas and Happy Baking.

  4. I just adore quaint little cozy shops! The windows in one the pix is are just adorable, my favorite is the one with the blocks of stained glass. It seems the days are gone for sweet little shops with the huge chain stores all around us everywhere.
    I’ve not attempted a gingerbread house thus far, and I know I won’t be attempting it this year either, too many other plans that have spoken for my time, but that’s OK. There’s always next year. 🙂 I just read on a friend’s blog that her daughter is baking a gingerbread Starbucks. That sounds like a fun project and I can’t wait to see the photos when they’re posted.
    Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!!! Merry Merry!

  5. zinnia patch says:

    AAAAAbsolutely breathless! Thank you Susan! xoxo

  6. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Dear Susan & All: It’s so hard to read your blogs and the comments, I need windshield wipers for my glasses! BEAUTIFUL, INSPIRING, SWEET, HEARTFELT, just not enough words in my vocabulary to describe how it all makes me feel! I’m sitting here with egg nog laced coffee (I reached for the fat free milk carton, and the low fat egg nog carton jumped into my hand) feeling very Holidayish! A few years back we were at the cabin in the Sierras with 2 daughters and their families & Grandma, snowing outside, icicles hanging from the eaves, making Gingerbread Houses. I think there were 9 children from 2-14 at the time! True Bliss! Loved the tour of MV, felt very homey. I think in a former life I lived in a small, wonderful, Victorian town. The WHOLE blog was wonderful! Thank you! Bouquets of Camellias (we don’t have many roses) to you all! xo Love, Joan

  7. EsSuzy says:

    Susan, thank you for taking us on a visit downtown! It’s beautiful. I really like the snow globe window. I had to let you know I watched The Bishop’s Wife and it’s a great Christmas movie!!! How is it I never knew about this movie before? I thought I had Christmas in Connecticutt on the dvr, but it was the remake, not Barbara Stanwyck. I’m still looking because the remake is a bit too 70s. Happy Friday xo Susan (E’s Suzy) L.
    PS Gosh there are so many Susans among the girlfriends. I wonder if anyone knows why Susan was such a popular name for our generation??

  8. Beth says:

    Oh Susan, thanks SO much for the pictures of downtown! I grew up in Plymouth but now live in Montclair Virginia so I miss miss miss visiting the Island! I’ve also been wondering if you’d ever think about writing a book on interior decorating? Your house is just bee-u-tiful!!!! And thanks for the Christmas Spirit girlfriend!
    Best to you and al the other girlfriends!

  9. Wendy says:

    OH! So beautiful. I want to come to the island and shop!!! Also…can you please oh please make the cookie bowl into desktop wallpaper?! SO adorable. Would cheer up my computer…which I have to admit does have your Santa on it’s face but variety is the spice of life! Thanks for the MV Christmas tour!

  10. Gert says:

    Dear Susan..oh…I just loved our walk down your lovely street! Just like being there!! smile..

    The gingerbread demo was so cool!! As Red our last gathering we had gingerbread house kits for the ladies so they could build their own houses! ( I was sick & unable to attend ;( & was so looking forward to doing that). But the ladies did have fun…”playing”…smile….


  11. Tara says:

    Thank you for sharing your lovely town with us. Sometimes even those of us who work hard at keeping Christmas in perspective have a hard time doing so when the rest of the world creeps in. I love checking your site daily and your “Christmas” book at hand to keep me focused on what is important during this season….and it is a whole season not just a day. The smells, the stars, the walks in the cold air, the family and friends, the simplicity and the love…..all the things you remind us of daily. Truly your gift to us….thank you Susan!!

  12. Ann Y. says:

    Dear Susan – Thank you for your beautiful post ! Alwasy wanted to visit your town and now even more so…Like others I was having a hard time getting the spirit, but the little Bavarian inspired village across the highway from our neighborhood had an open house last Saturday and that got us started. Shops were open late, luminaries lined the paths, some shopowners homes above the shops were open to tour and the decorations were amazing. Singers in the square, a brass quartet playing caroles, Dickens characters strolling with the shoppers….well, that got us started in the spirit of the season. ( Bought two antique English Tea Knives with red handles…perfect for the holidays !) I finally, after years of talking about it, took my Aunt’s antique “Queen Louise” doll to the doll shop/hospital there. This afternoon I get to go and see what kind of new hair she will get and how much it will cost to fix her up – wish there was health care for dolls ! I am hoping she will be ready to put under the tree…which would please my aunt to know that long after her death someone is taking care of her doll. Then, this weekend, I too am making the Annie Hall cookies and cranking up the Christmas Spirit. I love your urging in the Chirstmas Book to “Be an Elf” ! Going to do it ! Thanks again for all the inspiration !

  13. Yvonne Shafer says:

    What a beautiful glimpse into Island life! I would love to be there to celebrate Christmas. I love the charm of a small town and the creativity and ingenuity of the shopkeepers. That special touch is sorely needed. I’ve discovered so much through your posts, Susan, and am grateful for each discovery. Thanks for sharing so much with us!

  14. maybaby says:

    Can I tell you how much your blog posts brighten my days? The glimpses of your home, and now your sweet little downtown warm my heart on a very chilly day here in St. Paul (5 degrees this morning with a windchill below zero!) Your Christmas book is proudly part of my holiday decorating, as always. This year it holds pride of place on a vintage side table next to our Christmas tree, guarded by a sweet little sparkly snowman.

    Thank you for warming the days and hearts of so many of us! You are a gift to us all.

  15. Nina says:

    OSusan you have made my day with these beeeautiful pictures! Today we are home and I have lots to do, I feel I can do all my jobs quite happily now I have peeped at your blog!
    I knew Martha’s Vineyard was heavenly when I visited during the summer months a couple of years ago but this time of year its truely magical! I loved the quaint little shops and the horses and the snowglobe! It looks like a christmas movie!
    Also the girls with the gingerbread houses and all the colours! I love cookware shops! Tomorrow we have the Christmas carol concert at chapel and afternoon tea. I am taking a batch of your brownies, I will be sure to tell everyone who’s recipie it is! Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with us girlfriends we truely do appreciate it! Have a great day Susan! xxxx

  16. Linda Trokey says:


    Again, you made my morning. I love all your little touches and tableaus you place throughout your home, adding to the magic and charm of Christmas. I felt bored with my mantle and didn’t know what to do with it this year but decided to pull out my vintage Christmas books and use them up there with the stockings from our childhoods (all homemade out of felt).

    I also know that the “island” is must-visit sometime at Christmas – don’t know what year but it’s on the list. Thanks for sharing your joy “Joey” and magic with all of us.

    Merry Christmas!

    Linda T

  17. Jean D. says:

    Dear Susan,
    I keep laughing about what your husband did to your Christmas decorations. Too funny! I also am now craving a toasted english muffin with orange marmalade, which is my favorite way to eat one. Yummy!
    I read your most recent post last night and woke up this morning with a thought – what if you asked all those wonderful friends out there in cyber space to give to a charity of your choice (or there choice) instead of sending gifts to you. They would still have the joy (or Joey!) of giving, your POBox wouldn’t be so clogged, and somewhere others would benefit. 🙂

    Enjoy the day – Jean

  18. Deborah Winter says:

    Hi Susan!

    Since you are cookie baking, just thought I would mention a wonderful company called “Embossed Edibles” who make little works of art in cookies!!! They just emailed me that my order was on the way so it might be too late for Christmas but check out the Tea Time and Jane Austen ones as they are beyond adorable!!!

  19. Jolene says:

    I must have it!! That book in the window of Mix!!!! “Raggeday Ann”s Meeriest Christmas”~~~~ OH, I just wanted to jump through my computer screen!! I love Raggedy Ann. Does your friend’s shop have a website? I’d much rather support a business like hers before trying ebay 🙂 I love vintage stores & the town just made me so happy inside with all it’s decorations…I wanted to grab a cup of not cocoa and stroll the streets. Your blog is like a Christmas present everyday! 🙂 🙂

  20. shauna slome says:

    I was JUST going to get your address to send you something when I read your sweet blog!! And now, how could I?? I TOTALLY GET your kind-hearted desire. I will send you love instead!!

    Happy Christmas!!


  21. CAROLYN says:

    Wishing you the most magical and magnificent Christmas ever! you have given me a year filled with wonder and happiness. I thank you for keeping all of us girlfriends creative and being all that we can be – wishing you love, joy, peace, health, prosperity, and a new year filled with the same – Carolyn

  22. I love reading your blog/stories. Your writing about Christmas a child, evoked so much emotion from me, that I had tears running down my face reading today. The wonderment and excitement as a kid with Christmas approaching was so joyous and pure! Reading today awoke the excitement I have had for the holiday season since a child.
    Thank you and may your Christmas season always be more than a toothbrush an none less than a wish for something grand!

  23. Kathleen Smith says:

    So-o-o beautiful. Have only been to MVineyard in the summer. The Christmas season’s decorations are lovely, traditional, and heartwarming. I might even give up southern Calif. for MV!! 🙂
    Thank you for keeping us inspired.

  24. Connie B says:

    I’ve been to Vineyard Haven in the late summer and visited the shops. It was a beautiful site to see them all decorated for the holiday. My 3 yr old granddaughter, Izzy, made her first ginger bread house this Christmas and loved it. I know it will be a new family tradition and fun to see her imagination at workwith each house.

  25. Flo says:

    I’m not sure why this popped up on my computer today rather than 20 days ago, but I’m so glad it did. It is wonderful to see the Vineyard in all its holiday splendor – just as I would have imagined it! And I also loved the photos of Martha and Annalee. I have Martha’s Gingerbread House book from the ’80’s when she was Martha Mattox and it was one of the things that inspired me to start a tradition in my family that has been going on for almost 25 years. Every year I have made 4, 5, or 6 different gingerbread houses for my children and their friends to decorate. They are now in their 20’s and 30’s, so I now invite friends with younger children to join us. And for the past couple of years, my daughter has made multiple gingerbread houses for her team to decorate at her company’s holiday party! It’s such fun to see the excitement, enthusiasm and creativity of the decorators, both children and adults alike!
    Thanks for sharing the Christmas magic of the island with us. And when you see her next, let Martha know that her little book has had quite the ripple effect!

    • sbranch says:

      Martha was just here with me in front of the fire last night! I’m going to forward this to her, she will love it! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me! Happy New Year Flo!

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