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. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your town with us! I knew it would be wonderful. I love the store fronts and how they decorated the lamp post! It is a very special place…..

  2. Peggy Cooper says:

    Oh I’m so glad I checked your blog one more time before shutting down my computer. A wonderful post as always. I don’t know why, but I just haven’t had the Christmas spirit I usually have by now, but after reading and re-reading your posts, I’m going down the basement right now and bringing up the Christmas tree decorations. I feel the warmth of spirit growing inside. Thank you Susan for all you do.

    • sbranch says:


    • dottie says:

      Peggy — I’m right there with you this year — just hasn’t been coming easily but an early Christmas post here started me off — just the tablecloths and napkins and the bath and kitchen towels — a few days later, I took another small step — the stack of books, the stack of Cristmas films. It got better with each small thing I brought out. I am finally feeling like Christmas…in large part thanks to Susan and her lovely blog (not to mention the recipes in those beautiful books of hers). Wishing you step-by-step to a renewed Christmas spirit!

  3. Marie says:

    Susan~thanks for sharing your talent, your family, your kitties, your holiday traditions, your town, and most of all, thanks for sharing your heart with all your true-blue fans.

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Your girlfriend from Williamsburg, Virginia

    Marie xoxo

  4. Barbara (WA) says:

    I’ve been checking the blog all morning in hopes the Random Drawing Picker chose me and discovered your new, charming post. I love your little downtown!

  5. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Oh my gosh, I want to stroll down your main street!!!! How magical!!! And, the video of the gingerbread houses I will probably replay again, the whirl of the mixer and all of the surrounding candies and goodies has inspired me today to get going on more Christmas baking! Your daily postings are “mini Christmas gifts” to me!!! Thank you Susan, and have a great afternoon. (I have to get busy with writing out my Christmas cards, which I love, love, love, to do with the Christmas songs on the radio, and my afternoon tea!) Bless you for all you do!

  6. pat addison says:

    good morning Susan, how are you this frosty morning? its 24 degrees here right now and icy, everything is frosted over, and the hoses are frozen so heating up the chickens water tubs was fun, hauling hot water out from the kitchen in buckets. their tubs are now thawed out, they are happy and peace reigns over the chickens yard. the cats are curled up on the bed, snuggled deep in the quilt and snoozing away. there is a nice warm fire going in the woodstove and plenty of hot coffee to keep me thawed out. i love looking at all the shops on your island, how pretty and christmassy it all looks, it must be wonderful to living there at this time of the year. love the rose, its so pretty, what is the name of that rose??? well i have a mountain of dirty towels to do in the laundry today, and time to get busy on those christmas cards….addressing, stamping and writing on them. so far the ninja kiities have been good and not bothered the tree, they pass under it during the day and swat at the ornaments, but so far no tree climbing yet. also have to get busy and start baking cookies for the neighbors and for my hubby’s pals at work, we always send a big platter of cookies with him to work to share with the staff there. have a wonderful day today Susan, stay warm and comfy. Merry Christmas Susan, and Merry Christmas everyone!! hugs…… 🙂

  7. Pam says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely photos. Hope you enjoyed your muffin Susan, it looks scrummy.

  8. Kerrie Foley says:

    Hi Susan…It is always such fun to read your blog and I LOVE your pictures. I have never been to Martha’s Vinyard before, but I imagine our little town of Wickford, RI is a little like your town…quaint little stores and twinkle lights everywhere. They have a contest each year to see who’s shop window is the best. Last weekend was the lighting of the town tree and caroling and Santa!! It’s also right on the water in Narragansett Bay. Someday I’m going to live there. I am also sitting in my art room and have the wood stove crackling and smelling Christmas smells. I love this time of year. I am also being a big procrastinator right now so I must get back to making my calendars before the new year rings in on me and I have none to share!! Thanks again for just being you…I am inspired every time I check your blog or read your books. Happy Holidays to you and yours from me and mine 🙂 xoxo Kerrie

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Holidays Kerrie! Wickford is a place I love to go…darling town!

    • debbie says:

      Hi Kerrie!!! Wickford is one of my most favorite places in the world!! My nana lived there for several years and I have fond memories of shopping at Ryan’s Market and going to Wilson’s for the most lovely clothes ever!!! You’re right, in my memory it does look a lot like Susan’s lovely main street!!

  9. Nellie says:

    I truly loved my walk down Main Street! Thank you so much, Susan! My dream is to be able to return to Martha’s Vineyard during this season at some point – and stay for longer than a week! That is really NOT long enough!

    The gingerbread men have already been dancing around our kitchen, in among the sugar cookie wreaths and bells. Thank goodness most of them left to bring happiness to others, but there are still enough here to be tempting.:-)

    Having company (bridge group) for breakfast on Friday morning, so things are quite busy here today.:-)

    Sending you greetings from COLD Tennessee this morning!


  10. Karin says:

    Susan, Thank you for sharing all of your Christmas magic… I so enjoy reading your blogs and look forward to them. Waiting for The Bishops Wife to arrive from Netflix….excited 🙂

  11. Diane P. says:

    Awwwwwww, beautiful!!!!
    Thank you so much Susan for sharing your lovely community and home with us girlfriends! Such a heart-touching post, I have happy-tears in the corners of my eyes. 🙂
    The photos you take and share and your loving words that go with them are the next best thing to being on the Vineyard for Christmas.
    Thank you for making our day, EVERY day! xoxo

  12. Marissa says:

    The colors alone in the photos on this post has made my day!

  13. Country Gal says:

    Oh your town is beautiful as are your photos ! Loved the video ! Wow so much tallent in this town ! My hubby aka (Papa) and I must go there one day to your island town for a visit ! All looks and sounds so wonderful ! Have a great day !

  14. It’s beautiful, thank you for sharing these pictures!

    We lived in Holland, Michigan for most of the 1980’s and it had such a quaint and lovely town. Decorated for Christmas, it reminded me of a Storybook… just like this.

    I’m living in a fairy tale vicariously through your recent posts. 🙂

  15. Ruthie P says:

    Hi Susan,just wanted to tell you what joy you bring.Between your home,sweet,adorable kitties and all the wonderful things you do and share with us,thank you so much! I have been a Susan Branch fan for ever,but now I love you even more! Your main street is beautiful,your home warm and inviting,your videos are so much fun!!!!! Thank you,thank you,thank you! xoxoxo,Ruthie

  16. debbie says:

    Hi Susan! Just sat down to take a break and have a cup of tea and thought I’d would check to see what you were up to!! I now have a big smile on my face and can’t wait to make my own gingerbread house. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the photos in the cooking store…the colors are gorgeous and Martha and Annalee are ADORABLE!!! But then it got even better with the pictures of Main Street!!! I love the shops, and the lights, and the horses and the ferry!! Hope you have a wonderful time cookie baking and merry making this weekend!!

  17. Jeanette says:

    Oh, Susan, – Another wonderful, warm, cozy, love-filled post. Just about wanted to stick my finger in the frosting of the delicious-looking gingerbread house. Mmmm….And the trip down Main Street was simply enchanting. I want to cozy up with a cuppa and an English Muffin myself – which I could just scootch over with you…Oh, I did via your blog. Warm, fuzzy hugs – Jeanette

  18. Ann says:

    Thanks for the Christmas town tour. Wish I lived in a small town. Your friend’s gingerbread houses are adorable. Is her booklet available for sale?

  19. Judy says:

    Your town is so beautiful just like a storybook town. Thanks you so much for sharing. I have also been loving your posts about Jack. He is such a precious kitten. I love his facial expression.

  20. Susan Meyers says:

    I’ve been making Annie Hall butter cookies since at least 1996. I love the recipe and the dough. I love that it’s so easy to handle, doesn’t need chilling, and that the cookies are scrumptious. I give iced and sugared ones away every year and they are eagerly anticipated. I use football cutters for Super Bowl and the beginning of football season in the fall; bunnies and eggs for Easter, flags for the 4th; leaves and apples for September, pumpkins and ghosts for Halloween; pumpkins and turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas cutters too numerous to mention.

  21. Connie Michael says:

    It would be hard not to get into the Christmas spirit in your community! What a truly wonderful place to live…… I enjoy your blog so much – and the pictures are like a mini-vacation to me. Enjoying the pics of Jack and his first holiday season with you & hubby – he is such a sweet-faced little guy, and Girl Kitty is soooo beautiful. Ah. I just love it. Like many others have written, you keep my spirits up and inspire me beyond words. Thank you so much for sharing your love for life with the rest of us! Merry Christmas!! 🙂

  22. Kerry S. says:

    Lovely colors Susan! Seeing the photos of the Vineyard downtown shops I now understand your inspiration for your (much missed) Heart of the Home shop! It would have fit right into the downtown on the island! Are there town traditions like the summer sing along that you shared with us?
    Have a lovely weekend!

    • sbranch says:

      All kinds of them, mostly for local people of course, like Santa arriving at the Fire Department, and the Minniesingers walking around downtown singing carols, the Christmas stroll in Edgartown. We don’t have the same influx of tourists as we do in the summertime.

  23. Debbie says:

    My heart is in the Vineyard…….it is a beautiful and special place 12 months a year….

  24. Dinahsoar says:

    Love your charming town and all that you share…I read the link–what an excellent point it makes…helps me to explain to others who don’t ‘get’ blogging and reading blogs. I love the kinship of the blog world–it is a version, in a way, of the old fashioned pen pal…friends to whom we can only connect via word and image, yet are who very real to us, whom we so often come to treasure. Christmas is so much fun when it is shared with others!

    • sbranch says:

      So true. I loved how it was all wrapped up in the spirit of giving, like putting lights on the house or a wreath on the door . . . it says that everything we do matters, a wonderful message.

  25. Susie says:

    That mainstreet through town is so pretty I bet even Christmas shopping is fun.
    Enjoy your family “chocked full of fun” weekend Susan.

  26. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good afternoon~
    I just read your post while I ate my lunch. Your little town reminds me of the one I grew up in. Our Main Street probably wasn’t much longer than yours. We had one stop sign, not even a light!
    I decorate my kitchen in red, white, green and gingerbread. Love gingerbread houses! My gingerbread houses are ceramic ( not fancy, only gingerbread colored with white piping) and have lights in them. They came with gingerbread scent you put on them so when they are lit they smell yummy!
    The aluminum tree…my aunt had one that she put pink and turquoise satin ball ornaments on in the 60’s and 70’s. Not very traditional but pretty in it’s own right. (I realize now).
    I thought it kinda gaudy as a kid.
    Back to my busy work! Since I found your blog my busy time gets shorter and my breaks get longer. It that wrong?!
    Almost forgot….I think America’s Funniest Videos Christmas Special is on tonight. That’s always good for a few laughs!
    Happy Thursday!

  27. Lori says:

    Oh wait, I have to wipe my screen off. I am afraid I was caught licking it! : ) The gingerbread house is so cute and the walk along the shops was wonderful. I can actually say I was window shopping – didn’t buy a thing.

  28. Lori C. says:

    Bless you Susan, for your Generous Talented Sharing Heart and for giving us a Marshmallow – Gum Drop World!!! Your blog is like a visual trip to Disneyland!! Your Annie Hall’s Butter Cookie recipe is being packed in my suitcase to fly with me to California to make Christmas Cookies with my niece and nephew over Christmas – (I secretly like adding real almond flavoring to it). Your nieces are so lucky to have you as their special Auntie!! How fun!!

  29. Marilyn says:

    Ah, Christmas in New England! Quaint, charming, warm, friendly are the first words that come to mind. 🙂

    The pictures of Martha and Annalee building a gingerbread house together are adorable. I love bonding moments like this when a skill is being passed down to a child. They did a beautiful job, too!

    Oh, what a gorgeous rose!!!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  30. Rita Baker says:

    I love winter scenes of vacation places! Beutiful photos of a beautiful place! You are so lucky to live there. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  31. Jennifer says:

    I’m particularly inspired by the Gingerbread house! Is there a way to get a copy of Martha’s tips?

  32. jeannine leonard says:

    yes life is good, thanks for bringing the holiday and community spirit to all of us, from your world to ours.

  33. Emily says:

    Oh your main street reminds me of my own main street in the little village of Clinton, NY, home of Hamilton College. Everyone is so cheery and the town comes of for the anual Shopper’s Walk. Main Street’s version of Black Friday. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas. “Christmas From the Heart of the Home” has always made an appearance in the holiday kitchen from the time I was in grade school. Such warm traditions you’ve created for us readers.

    I saw that one of your Santa Coffee Pots was on Ebay today, but have to stop myself from bidding. It sold for $100! I would love to find one someday. <3

  34. I live in the city of Orange, Ca. It has a real small town atmosphere. The Plaza in the middle of town is a total circle, so you can drive around it to see the huge evergreen that city puts lights on at Christmas time, and the street is decorated like the movie. “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I always make a detour when I go home just so I can see the lights. Very cute. It’s been chilly at night here so I have had fires at night..Really puts me in the spirit.

    • sbranch says:

      We love Orange, the old town . . . there’s a delicious Italian restaurant on one of the corners in that circle! You’re lucky to get to go through it.

    • I love Orange! I was there alot in the 50’s, my Brother and family lived there. I loved in Laguna, and then jr & high school in Arcadia. Moved there in 75 with Husband and had our 1st child there. Moved to NC in 81 with our 2 boys. Love the shops near the circle!

  35. Lois Pearsey says:

    That does it!!! I’m moving to Marthas Vinyard.

  36. Sherrill Kerbaugh says:

    Good afternoon, Susan…
    Three blocks of lovely, welcoming Christmas spirit…thank you!

    “…he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”
    Proverbs 15:15 King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

    I wish you, Joe, your family and dear friends a very Merry Christmas!

  37. Rachel Lucas says:

    Ok, REALLY homesick now!! Martha looks adorable – miss her!! Love the demo, I can just imagine the fun. The marmalade must be almost all gone…xoxo

  38. Coni says:

    I’ve come to believe that MV must be one of the most enchanted, magical places on earth. Thank you for sharing it with those of us who live there, too – if only in our dreams.

  39. shirley burt says:

    How wonderful it all looks. And how fun to create with all those inspirational colors around. Makes me want to invite my six year old granddaughter to shop for candy and build a gingerbread house. Next year we can add the little brother and cousin to join us. 2 years old this year is a bit young.
    Bunny hugs to all

  40. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Thanks for “taking us along” on your walk downtown–it was fun to see the shops all decorated. It is a little like stepping into a Currier and Ives picture! Last weekend when we went to Stillwater, MN, we were there late enough that it got dark and the downtown was decorated similarly–really does get one in the Christmas mood! That is one thing the suburbs in a large town lack–that community effort and feeling…It is very cold today. I pulled the Easter hambone out of the freezer and am making bean soup for supper with cornbread and salad. Need to mix up some “SB Christmas Marmalade” to serve with the cornbread! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Karen P says:

      LOVE Stillwater, Pat! Did you shop at Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas store?

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        We start at the north end at the bookstore and walk down the whole side of the street to the south end and then cross and walk back on the other side, hitting about every specialty shop and antique shop along the way. Yes, we go in the Christmas shop but also the book store, antique stores, the kitchen shop, the feed and seed store (to look at bird feeders), etc. We always have our favorite for lunch–beer cheese soup at Brine’s! Stillwater is our favorite place in the Twin Cities… 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Great thing to do, I am so worried about the small downtowns and this economy. We’ve already lost several WONDERFUL stores!

  41. Mia Sophia says:

    Beautiful! Wish I was there! Oh…the timer just went off…making your Spiced Pecans…again! Enjoy!

  42. shirley burt says:

    Oh my goodness, I forgot to say I adore your town !! I have never, ever seen a snowglobe window. How Wonderful !!! It was my favorite picture, if I have to narrow it down to only one.Thank you for sharing your lovely town with the rest of us. It certainly puts us in a festive mood.

  43. Nancy from Michigan says:

    YOU are good for my soul 🙂

  44. Karen D says:

    How lovely! What a lot of great friends you have too! I love reading your blog.

  45. Carol in KS says:

    How fun!! I would love to know how to purchase Martha’s how-to book!! Any ideas?? Enjoyed the warmth and imagination in the kitchen store and the stroll down your Main Street! Merry Christmas!!

  46. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    I spent my lunch break today with a few lovely friends that were planning out their cookies for the holidays. I just sat back and knitted and listened. It was so fun to hear about their families and who liked what and what they made as children. It brought back so many nice memories. We did talk quite a bit about cut out cookies and gingerbread houses. Then I come to talk with you and there are cut out cookies and gingerbread houses!! It must be a special day for them!! I can’t believe I’ve reached the great age of fifty something and have never made a gingerbread house. That’s going on my life list today!! This year I’m just making my Fruit and Nut Candy. Super simple and very well received. Well…and my White Almond Cake which I end up making a lot because everyone asks for it….I’m making it tonight for a party at work tomorrow. I’m starting to get that happy, smiley feeling and you girls are responsible for it!! Thanks so much for sharing. Have a great evening and talk to you soon!!

  47. Mary S. says:

    Thank you, Susan, for the gorgeous rose, and for showing us your beautiful little town in it’s holiday garb!! Love it all!!

  48. Dana Burton says:

    Hi Susan,
    It has been a while since I have been able to get on the blog….I am a Full-Time On-Line Student as well as a Full Time Wife and Mommy of 3 daughters; I have been a huge SB fan for many years but, I found myself a few months back wanting to browse around your site and the blog more than I wanted to do my classwork…couldn’t concentrate, so, I had to go on a “fast”, lol! Anyway, I just finished my finals last week and I am in full swing SB Mode now…just in time for my favorite time of year!! My Mom (Carol) has kept me in the know about everything you have been up to and she bought me the beautiful Cosmos Mug and some tea towels for my birthday on December 2nd, I was so excited! Anyway, I can’t believe how much you have taken off since this time last year….it seems like the word has been sent out into the atmosphere with a huge megaphone “Susan Branch is AMAZING, if you haven’t heard of her yet, you will!!” It truly is incredible how you have been doing what you do for so many years and then all of the sudden in the year 2011 you take off like wild fire…’s just a reminder to myself that things happen in God’s timing, not in our timing.:) So happy for your success and even happier that in the midst of it all your still the same; humble, down to earth, sentimental and special. Don’t ever lose that, your heart is what draws all of us to you. Thank you Susan for inspiring me and so many! Talk to you soon! I apologize in advance, to all, if this and future responses are lengthy, I have lost time to make up for! (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

    • sbranch says:

      First off, congratulations on getting through your finals!! And welcome back! And thank you for all your sweet comments . . . I don’t know how we got along without you! xoxo

  49. Patty Opaczewski says:

    Hi Susan! Thank you so much for all of the Christmas visuals. I love all the color, especially the kitchen colors. I am drawn like a magnet to all the kitchen shops in our area with all the reds, yellows, greens and oranges. My favorite color has always been red so it is working out for me, but not my wallet!! I love the painted snow globe in the window of Rainy Day and it reminded me of the wonderful stencils my mom used to put in our windows at Christmas time with Glass Wax and stencils. I don’t think they sell it any more. Sigh!!! : ( Do you know of a way to stencil holiday snowflakes and things on windows??? I would love to reincarnate that tradition. God bless you during this most magical of seasons!!! xx000

    • sbranch says:

      I had spray snow in a can at one time, I think I got it at Michaels. Try that — and thank you so much Patty. xoxo

  50. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Afternoon Sweet Elf~Sue…This Blog has put a Huge Smile on My Elf~Face…Your Town looks like a Magical Christmas Village! I Love the Painted Snow~Globe On Rainy Day’s Window! I Love all those Gum~Drops! & The Video of Martha & Annalee Is Scrumptious! Taylor & I Made a Small Gingerbread House Last year…I Think We need to Make Another One Inspired By You & Your Friends! Yay! & Elf~Sue…You are so Right… The Colors of This Season…Spectacular…& Cracking Fires & Christmas Tree Smells…& Candle Light & Cookies Baking in The Oven & always Jingle Bells…♫♪ Ringing♫♥♪ & Your Annie Hall Butter Cookie Dough Makes the Most Scrumptious Cookies! Your Nieces will Have so Much Christmas Fun with You! You & Your Little Elves Baking away! Thank You for This Beyond Gorgeous Christmas Rose!….We are Cold Today & it Feels Like Christmas…ahhhhhhhh it’s In The Air!…..Merry Thursday Sweetest♥Sue…Love to You & Joe & Kitty & Jack!…Be Merry & Bright! xoxo Elf~Angie(Tink!) Poof! 🙂 ♫♥♪

  51. Jan says:

    Loved the tour of Main Street. Have never been there but would sure like to come visit. Made a gingerbread house with my grandchildren last year- what fun! I think they ate more frosting and decorations than what went on the house. Ha! Kitchen stores are great,just love to roam and look ( and sometimes buy). Still putting Thanksgiving decorations away. Plan to start decorating for Christmas today. Need to get busy as my youngest son and friends arrive late next week for a couple of days. Thanks for the inspiration. I often wonder how you have the time to do the things you do.

  52. Sheryle Towle says:

    Thank you, Susan. I have been having a down day….for absolutely no reason & then I read your blog! Those pictures are priceless….gingerbread, gumdrops, store windows…all of it! You perked me up. Have a wonderful evening!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so glad Sheryle, knowing that perks me up too!

      • Laura says:

        When you get down you can think of the lady a few posts who described her husband as Clark Griswoldesque…hahahahahahaha…
        Or….”Grandfather, Grandfather”…..supposed to be touching, but just strikes me as hilarious!!! LOL…or, just watch that cat cartoon of the kitty destroying the tree….when he points to his mouth at the end and makes those funny noises I die laughing!!!! Easily entertained!! Xoxoxoxoxo

  53. Nancy says:

    I’ve been wanting to make a trip to the Vineyard for years and now I know I want to come at Christmas! it looks so charming, and I’m sure it’s cozy. I’ll put it on my travel wish-list for 2012! Thanks for sharing!

    • sbranch says:

      Very quiet here right now. Many of the stores are closed. It’s a very different place. Good for reading!!

  54. The stroll down your lovely town’s street was like a Victorian Picture, and what can be said about that close up pic of the gumdrops!!!! I remember my Grandfather Stirn loved orange slices and chocolate drops and when my Grandmother napped (with a newspaper over her face) he thought he was fooling her by sneaking into the drawer they stayed in..she knew. As a tribute to Grand Dad I buy a bag of each type of candy every year. Your breakfast reminded me of mine only my muffin had seedless blackberry preserves. May Ole Man Winters breath chill you; so the yulelog can warm your spirit and set your heart aglow with Christmas!!!

  55. Patricia says:

    After a nice day of wrapping gifts with Christmas movies on in the background it was very very nice to see a new blog post from you today Susan! And thank you so much for Willard’s Cookie Jar! What a treat!! Also, after reading Rachel’s post saying her husband reads A Christmas Carol to her I got my copy out and though I can’t get Russ to read it to me, I have been reading a bit to myself each evening! I had forgotten how wonderful it is to read it. Highly recommend! xx

  56. Barbara B says:

    I am in the middle of the Christmas projects. Right now I’m filling vintage glass dishes with coarse salt for snow and nestling bottle brush trees in among the snow. I also press little treasures under the trees in among the snow. I mix the salt with half mod podge and half water so when it sets it stays put. Anyway I needed a break and my walk through your magical town was perfect. You must be so thrilled that you can bring such joy to so many people. Thank you so much, you are a real Christmas treasure!

  57. Karen P says:

    Again, just a fun, holiday, joy-filled blog, dear Susan! I would call your blog this month “the 25 days of Christmas with Susan (Mrs. Santa) Branch!” Love the demo video of Martha and Annalee….you can tell they both LOVE it! I, too, would love to buy a copy of Martha’s book if it’s available so I’ll watch for word on it.

    That main street of yours is precious! Very cozy, and I LOVE coziness! And your pic of the gumdrops….beeaaauuuttttiiifffuuulll! Sometimes a close-up perspective just changes things, doesn’t it? The snowglobe window is so clever! Love it! Thanks again…..xoxo…kp

  58. Hi Susan, Your town is wonderful…just the right amount of interesting shops! I will have to send this post to my friend Susan because of the store called Two Susan’s…we always joke about both being Susan’s. Funny thing, when I woke up this morning the porch door had blown wide open over the night…the floor was freezing! The really funny part was that I also opted for an english muffin this morning with marmalade. So glad that I stopped by to see what was going on at your blog. Have a lovely evening.

  59. Karen P says:

    I say “LOVE” alot! Oh well…

  60. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    Wow those pictures were the best, makes me want to jump in my car and drive up to the ferry and go for a stroll down Main Street. I love making Gingerbread houses. Makes the whole house smell so darn yummy doesn’t it.
    Your Rose is Gorgeous Susan. I love Roses.
    Thanks for making such a warm and cozy post

  61. ArlineLA says:

    Thanks so much for the winter and Christmas views! You definitely made a wish come true. I read your books about the Vineyard and finally got there a couple of years ago. We visited over Labor Day, and although still magical, it is wonderful to see the holiday season instead of just imagining it. The best part of our stay on your wonderful island was walking into town in the evening for ice cream looking into the windows of homes and buildings built in the 1600’s. We don’t have that experience in California!

  62. JudyCnNC says:

    Small town atmosphere where everyone goes out of their way to be festive, respective, reflective and friendly. Great combination of attention getters. I loved your post and sharings today. Thank you Susan. I must say, the Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macroons are way tooo goood … having a very difficult time staying away from them and can’t wait to make something else from the Cookie Jar. Judy C in NC

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t even taste one or you will be in more trouble! 🙂

      • JudyCnNC says:

        Truthfully, I have already tasted five … big trouble. Had to put them away. I am going for the rice pudding with brown rice next. Wish me luck that DearWonderfulHusband will like it and help me eat it all gone. Judy C in NC

  63. sharon nolan says:

    susan- your post really brightened my day! I feel like I really experienced Christmas in your little town—-and the gingerbread house demo was so sweet-it made me miss my little granddaughter even more. Please know that there are so many of us who truly look forward to your charming blogs.Merry merry Christmas to you and yours!

  64. Francine says:

    Oh Susan! How much I enjoyed seeing the Gingerbread House class! Wish I was there to take it! I love making and decorating sugar cookies! I need to try a gingerbread house! I made gingerbread playdough for my grandkids the other day – it smelled Heavenly. My little grandson asked if we could taste it? Probably….if Nana hadn’t added “magic” sparkle glitter to it! Ha! And the tour of your little town was wonderful. All the colors and sights – it was like I was really there! My imagination ran wild. Thanks for taking the time to share with us. And thank you for the lovely rose! Stay cozy!

  65. Gayle says:

    A note to anyone considering making gingerbread houses in humid climates. I made one for a Christmas in July event in St. Louis years ago, and the roof collapsed. Gingerbread does not stay crisp in humidity.

    • sbranch says:

      You can’t make the melted sugar “glass” windows for the houses if it’s raining . . . Thanks Gayle!

  66. Susan Simon says:

    Hello, Susan and everyone!
    I loved seeing your town and all the entrancing, intriguing little shops that line your Main Street… the horses clip-clopping along (reminds me a great deal of Mackinac Island!) and all the vivid colors, lights and just the overall feeling of Christmas that permeates not only the town, but your blog, your books, your website and, most of all, your house and you. Thank you for sharing… I know I keep saying that, but I mean it thoroughly each time I say it! Seth Grodin nailed it… thank you for sharing that, too!

    We are headed to see “White Christmas” at a local theater tonight; it will be wonderful to see how they do the sets and handle all the dance numbers… it’s a small set, so we’ll see!

    Your wondrous rose, so vibrant, sets off that picture perfectly. I spent today working on wrapping and Christmas cards… now I get to go see one of my all time favorite Christmas movies in a stage production. Have to feed the dogs and get changed, so off I go… humming (well, not really, as I can’t hum worth a darn, but I pretend I can) Counting My Blessings… and that’ll lead into Snow… Snow… Snow…Snow… Snow! (Not a drop to be seen anywhere here yet, but surely we’ll have some by Christmas!) Bye for now, and have a lovely evening. Hugs to you if that’s okay…

    • sbranch says:

      How was the play? Was it darling? Did you have to put your hand over your mouth to keep from singing “Sisters” out loud?”

      • Susan Simon says:

        The play was great!! I just hummed quietly to myself… and we were all invited to sing along for “White Christmas!” The show was very well done; I think the actor who played Phil had some of Danny Kaye’s moves and facial expressions done perfectly… and the actress who played Martha was an absolute stitch…just brilliant. So glad we went.

  67. Terri says:

    Wow, what beautiful pictures to get one in such a festive mode… did my Mom’s birthday today and we have Christmas Cheer, our local newspaper puts a number assigned to families in need and I called to ask about one and it was taken so they offered me another, so today I went and did that too. Out and about and I smelled gas from under my truck, took it to the dealer, they could find nothing, in the meantime I rented a car to take my Mom to Pizza Hut, she wanted pizza! And then took the Christmas goodies to this needly elderly family. I visited with my 95 year old great aunt and listened to Straight No Chaser on CD in the truck on the way home and then found your beautiful blessing of a blog to the end of a very busy day! Thanks Susan… hugs and love to you always…

  68. Cinda says:

    Hi Susan,

    I made your “Annie Hall’s” cookie dough this morning…it’s chilling in the fridge until my college girls come home.
    I have been making these cookies since I was about 7 years old. My friend’s Mom (and my brownie leader), Mrs. Evans always invited me over to bake these yummy cut out cookies. It is the same recipe as the Annie Hall one in your Christmas book!

    I have made hundreds and hundreds of these cookies through the years. One batch is NEVER enough!

    I loved seeing Vineyard Haven at Christmas time. I would love to visit this time of year…..but I would miss my homemade Christmas around here!

    Merry Christmas!

  69. Martha Ellen says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you so much for the lovely post today. I love how your friends built such an adorable gingerbread house. Annalee is quite good at her work! Martha looks like a patient and loving teacher—all the yummy ingredients for a lucious house of candy and gingerbread!
    The main street of your town is all dressed up for Christmas! Very quaint with the little shops and buggy rides. How lucky you are to live in a community that does care as Seth Grodin points out in his blog.
    Susan I am so excited today as I found Gladys Taber’s Stillwater Cookbook in an antique shop! Thank you for introducing her to me! ♥

  70. Paulie's question says:

    Hi Susan!
    A wonderful tour of your beautiful town ……loved all the photos and especially all the colors in the kitchen shop. I have some roses like that one growing in my garden and it is called Jacobs Coat … is so gorgeous and I can hardly wait to see it each summer. I have a question I hope someone can answer or perhaps you will do so. Do you recall how we use to make soap snow out of Ivory flake snow by beating it up with some water? Well we still do it, but of course there no longer are boxes of ivory snow flakes now. What do you use for soap now? We have been buying the bars and shaving them but it sure is a process….. Would be very interested in replies. Thanks and Blessings to ya!

    • sbranch says:

      I didn’t even realize they no longer sell it, what a travesty! 🙂 I think the shaving is all you can do, maybe put them in the food processor? Firm them up first in the fridge? Peel the bars with a potato peeler? Not much help, sorry!

  71. Sue Miller says:

    Thank you for the tour….it’s a bucket list thing for me. The pictures give such a sense of peace and the crinkling smile of Santa. I am inspired to finish my holiday preparations. HO HO HO

  72. Dale Worness says:

    You sure live in a gorgeous town! I can just imagine Main Street with the snow falling gently like in a snowglobe. I had even tried “googling ” it but the real pictures are much better. Talk about magical! I’m ready to move there tomorrow! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  73. Lin says:

    Thank you, Susan, for a look into your lovely little town! Enjoyed it very much! One of these days I’m going to make it there!

  74. Kim S says:

    How lovely all the decorations look and I must try the Annie Hall cookie recipe – I hope it is with the Willard list in my email. I enjoyed the Gingerbread house video and think that must have been fun!

  75. Jacquelyn Wirthlin says:

    Beautiful photographs! Love the girls and the gingerbread house and what lovely ideas. What really got me were the gumdrops … I remember the little plastic “Gumdrop trees” everyone put out at Christmas when I was little (back in the dark ages … ) and getting to eat the leftovers after trimming the little tree. What fun! While out visiting my favorite thrift shop this afternoon, I found a beautiful copy of “A Christmas Carol” with gorgeous illustrations for $2 … obviously my lucky day! Thank you for sharing all of this Christmas spirit with us today and thank you for the Willard! It is great.

  76. Patty Page says:

    Martha’s Vineyard looks like such a storybook town. I’d love to visit—but don’t know if that will ever happen. Thanks so much for sharing your little town with us! It feels like a little bit of magic!

  77. Sandra Gillanders says:

    Charming, charming town full of really cute looking shops. Boy making a Gingerbread house looks like a lot of fun, never made one before but always admired them. Saw two incredibly large ones at Longwood Garden this year. Loved hearing Martha sing at Thanksgiving BTW.
    Thanks for sharing your more of your beautiful town with us. Sometime I going to see that for myself.
    Oh and that muffin with marmalade, yum, yum! What a nice gift from Rachel.

  78. Linda Pintarell says:

    Beautiful pictures BUT it was the Annie Hall Butter Cookies that got my attention. Through my entire life up until 8 years ago when she passed away, our dear family friend, Muriel, made butter cookies for EVERYONE..I mean EVERYONE. I got a tin…my mom, my dad, my cousins, my friends, everyone in the nursing home down the street, everyone in her church, everyone who was a breathing person who she talked to or knew – and they were the BEST ever. Everyone just waited for their tin and hoarded it…made it last…didn’t share very much. Muriel made thousands of them. She gave me the recipe once and I tried but they just didn’t taste the same. I miss them. I miss her. She was the sweetest lady ever. I’m going to try Annie Hall Butter Cookie dough and bring back the memories.

    • sbranch says:

      I hope it works for you! I get lots of compliments, people tell me they are “the best.” You will be the final word! 🙂 If they are as good as Muriels!! Love that you are trying to continue that tradition!

  79. Ellen Beeton says:

    I always get excited when I see that you have a new post I haven’t read yet. I’ve always been intimidated by ginger bread houses. They really look difficult, but oh so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your town with us. I used to live in a small little quaint town and loved every bit of it but the cold and snowy winters. Just getting old I guess. Now we are here in sunny Arizona. We are in a suburb of Phoenix so believe me, I’m no longer in a quaint little town. I do miss it though. Thanks for sharing.

    • sbranch says:

      You’d be shocked at how easy they are, messy, because of so many candies and sticky Royal Icing — you need a little space to do it in . . . but so fun and adorable, just a great holiday project.

  80. Oh what beautiful pictures! The cookies look delicious in your drawing! The g house looks so cute! My Daughter-in-love was saying today that she wants to make one, I haven’t made one since my Son and I made one 19 yrs ago! Always go to the Grove Park Inn near us in Asheville to view all the wonderful ones that have been made for a contest! They are incredible! What a magical downtown, I would love to stroll down the street and go into each and every shop! I bet you and others living there enjoy the peace and quiet of winter with fewer tourists, I would! Is Jack still running around with the pom pom? He is so adorable! Hope your tree is safe! Enjoy those Nieces this week-end, I know they will enjoy being with you, Joe and the sweet kitties! Have fun, Thanks for the blog! By the way, yours is so much easier to comment on thank alot of the others! Thank you for that!
    Hugs and xoxoxo!

    • sbranch says:

      So happy to hear that! You never know, but that’s how I hoped it would be — sometimes when I’ve tried to comment on others it just disappears! I always wonder what I’m doing wrong, so I’m really glad that’s not happening here!

  81. Nancy J. says:

    Susan I want to come too when your nieces come. It sounds and looks so wonderful at your house. And your darling little town looks so charming and quaint. It reminds me of Star Hollow on Gilmore Girls. I love that little make believe town. And I know yours is the same way. I’m going to get your cookie recipe out soon. (I have all of your books. Even the tiny little ones.) You are so right when you walk into the house to the smells of Christmas. Even though we will not be having a live tree this year I am bringing in some fresh pine from our trees.

    And the delightful gingerbread house your dear friend Martha made. And the cute book and Annalee, that darling little girl. It brings so many treasured memories to me of my own daughters helping me make gingerbread houses when they were small. Can we get a copy of the booklet? It would be so fun to have.

    A big thankyou for sharing your life with us. It seems like a true to life fairy tale. Love it, absolutely love it.


    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Nancy — I’m working on Martha to get her to make her book available, but I’m thinking it might have to be for next Christmas.

  82. Beth Keser says:

    Hahaha! I was reading your blog, while eating an English muffin for dinner (had school tonight) and was very envious of your homemade marmalade!! All I had was butter 🙁
    Another wonderful blog. Your Main St is magical! I loved the pictures you shared with us. You have a very special way of making the smallest of details important, which reminds us to pay attention to those small details. Sometimes we get so busy with life, we miss out on the important stuff. Thank you AGAIN!!

  83. Colleen says:

    What a beautiful place you get to live in! Simply a treasure. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  84. Mary says:

    Wow, Susan! Thank you for the colorful visit! We were able to visit Martha’s Vineyard this past summer and it’s fun to see what it looks like at Christmas time! Your rose is beautiful…the colors are perfect! In reading some of the comments from our girlfriends here who haven’t been able to get into the spirit and start decorating…one thing that helps me it to start playing Christmas music!!! It works every time!

    • sbranch says:

      Music is really inspiring isn’t it! I have certain music that got me through the writing of the different books . . .

  85. Carol says:

    Thank you for the tour Susan. It is so much fun to spend time with you! We were in downtown Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago and they had the most wonderful gingerbread houses made by children displayed in the store windows! I remember making a gingerbread house in home-economics class back in the mid 1970’s. What great memories!

  86. Lee Ann G. says:

    I love your joy for life Susan. Especially your love of the simple things that make such a huge difference in our everyday. I always smile here. ♥
    I really enjoyed seeing your sweet and beautiful town on the island.

    ♥Lee Ann

  87. Holly says:

    Thank you for pictures of the cookware shop! It looks like my Fiestaware kitchen, and I REAlly like all the cookware! Your town is charming all dressed for Christmas. I was thinking of starting cookies today too. First the ones that freeze well, then next week the fragile ones. My cookie tins are all ready to go. You will have such fun with your nieces. Enjoy!

  88. Janet says:

    Once again, one of the best times of my day is reading your blog, Susan… the Vineyard looks ready for Christmas for sure – hope you and everyone there has a magical holiday season! I’m digging out my Christmas DVDs when I go home tonight and “The Bishop’s Wife” will be among them. Also “Miracle of 34th Street” [the 1947 version], “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” “Holiday Inn” – can’t have Christmas without Bing – “Home Alone” because I just love that song ‘Somewhere in My Memory’ and “A Christmas Carol” – both the 1938 MGM version as well as a wonderful 1984 production with George C Scott. Just wondering if you have an all time favorite Christmas movie? Thanks again and take care!

    • sbranch says:

      There are so many aren’t there! We like the 1952 production of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. Also, not a Christmas movie, but so good, the 2007 version of Jane Eyre. That one is also good for a really stormy night, knitting, etc. It’s so wonderful.

  89. Cathy McC. says:

    Oh my, so much to take in with this wonderful read! Thank you for sharing the sights of your lovely town — I could almost hear the jingle bells ringing on the horse-drawn sleigh. And based on the theory of COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION, presented in the Godin article, there is a TON OF HAPPINESS floating around here AND there!
    PS. While at my favorite repurposing shop the other night, I ran across a charming book by Lois Lenski and wondered, Did I miss the announcement of the winner of the Once On Christmas book? Merry Christmas!

  90. karen saunders says:

    You know what??? I am very bad…. I don’t like it when people come to visit you…. Know why?? I know you will be busy entertaining and you won’t write to us. Now that is totally selfish isn’t it…. (I told you I was bad.) I am glad your little nieces are coming. Wonder what our friend Jack will think of them. Let the fun begin!!

  91. Gumbo Lily says:

    Those gingerbread houses look spectacular! What fun friends to have. I enjoyed the bright colored colanders and casseroles and gumdrops very much.

  92. Linda says:

    “Jingle all the Way”–the man with the horses was the very best part of your towns’ holiday decor!! Wish I could be there to take a ride……..Be sure to take some sugar cubes to town and feed those darlings!!! (the guy too!) Ha!! Thanks for the peek into your corner of the world!

  93. Sarah Maldonado says:

    Oh, lovely, lovely little town! The snowglobe window was my favorite! Like some others on here, I’ve been slow to get into the spirit for various reasons, but reading your blog and slowing getting an item out to display has made me get excited about the other favorite things I love to do. My husband and I always try to go to a Christmas concert, whether it is just the local synphony or someone special on tour and tonight we saw the IRISH TENORS! Oh, my goodness. Our seats were like having them in our living room and I thought of your Thanksgiving gathering with people singing and just somehow felt I had these wonderful guys at home. I smiled, I cried as I heard songs my parents would have loved; they were SO entertaining. I would be a groupy if I could. Anyway, I think my Christmas spirit is now soaring and ready to decorate!

    • sbranch says:

      So happy to hear that Sarah! I think the world is a better place when we are all decorating at once!!

  94. Sarah Maldonado says:

    I hate it when I do typos….symphony!

  95. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan..up late tonight wandering around the house looking for that little crevice that needs to be decorated..found several!! It’s official…i ALWAYS love reading your blog, but today’s post is a favorite. i know i mentioned my grandkids and their gingerbread houses, so i am THRILLED to be able to show them the pictures you posted of Martha and her gingerbread demo when we embark on our gingerbread adventure this week-end..perfect timing!! Of course…Main Street is charming..just as i pictured it would be at this time of year…. I can hear the horses clip-clopping, bells ringing, and smell the pine….and the snow globe….loved it!!! just sittin’ here smiling..taking it all in….i know that heart skippin’ a beat feeling too….what a wondeful time of year!! thank you Susan… happy to be able to share in this blog…have a great week-end!!! cindy

  96. andrea says:

    Oh happy sighs….such a lovely post!
    You have a magical way about you my dear!

  97. Mammamisia says:

    Beautiful photos. I love Christmas. Gingerbread house is wonderful.
    I am inspired.
    Have a nice and wonderful Christmas.

  98. Mammamisia says:

    Thank you Susan at your visit. I dont anderstant word to but a have google translate. I can english a littel. I love you to. Thank you. Your blog is me inspiration.

  99. Cyndy in Virginia says:

    I LOVE COLOR! And, this post certainly shouts color. I also love Christmas lights and candy – yummm!

    Thanks to you forwarding the phone number, I was able to purchase one of those large colorful bowls from LeRoux (Martha’s Vineyard) – bright, bold orange – just like the one you were using in a previous blog. When not in use, this colorful, put-a-smile-on-my-face bowl sits atop my refrigerator – glowing.
    I would visit the store daily, if I lived on the Vineyard, just to get my daily color fix.

    Sending you special wishes – have a fabulous December/Christmas/holiday/happy season !

  100. Jacquie says:

    All I can say is TGIF…As a busy domestic CEO, mom, wife and school nurse I am glad to see the end of a busy week finally arrive! I’ve been thinking about a festive holiday activity to do with my kids tonight. I’ve got my idea now – gingerbread houses! We’ve made them before but my kids will be surprised because there’s been no mention of making them this year. (I think I’ll shoo them out of the kitchen for a bit and surreptitiously set up the sparkly candies and yummy decor. I love this season of “sweet” surprises. Thanks for the inspiration!

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