I’ve got some good things for you Girlfriends!!! MUSICA

Oh, how I’m loving October! 🍂 Weather has totally changed on the island, summer is a thing of the distant past. We’ve had two Nor’easters recently, wild wind and rain out of nowhere . . . ferry boat was stopped, we’ve been cut off, out here alone, leaves flying by the windows. My favorite. Light the candles, make a fire, cook, and cozy-in to the quiet. With Jack. And Joe.💞

Look at me! After three months of an out-of-order broken wrist, I’m painting again!

I wasn’t sure I’d still know how! I’ve started working on the 2021 calendars (yes, 2021 😜, try not to think about it).  As you can see Jack has been lending support. I’m still going to Occupational Therapy once a week, working to get all that luv-lee flexibility back. But I’m sooo much better. Lifting little weights! See that writing up there? Now look at this:

This is a shopping list I wrote with my left hand a couple of months ago! I told my brain, “MAKE A ‘G'”, but my brain said, “Is that a right turn or a left?” This took HUGE concentration! I kind of liked it!

Still eating healthy, and still loving it. Doesn’t that look delicious? Well, it was! Best words I ever told myself about losing weight? “I don’t care how long it takes, I’m doing it.” Very powerful. As they say in the Biz, “It’s a Lifestyle Change.”

Here’s a wonderful little healthy snack. If you are a homey cottage-cheese lover like I am (and many aren’t for good reason ➡️), there is nothing nastier than the milky wet cottage cheese you find in so many grocery stores. So I have something new for you to try. Look for Friendly Farms Cottage Cheese. It’s heavenly. Sturdy and creamy. Not drowning in milky wetness!! Available in tons of places. Perfect to put on crackers, or, like above, on buttered, toasted Ezekiel Bread, sprinkled with seeds, nuts, salt and pepper! Sprouts taste good on it too. It’s a treat!😋

Yes, it’s that time of year for Carrot Cake! Lots of Birthday’s around here lately . . . and Saturday is Rachel’s Birthday! 😘😘😘 Sending love to you Ray ~ I really wish you could help yourself (all of you!) to a piece of this! I won’t be a bit surprised if they figure out how to do that someday! Wish they’d hurry! You can wish Rachel a Happy Birthday here in the comment section, OR, write her on Twitter, HERE!❤️

You’ll recognize the recipe for the three-layer carrot cake I took to Jaime’s house for a birthday party . . . I forgot how good it is! Everyone loved it!


If you’ve never tried to make a carrot cake, you really should! It comes together so easily, and it’s filled with fruit and nuts! Right, Jack? Right!

Here I am at the party, sitting on the floor in front of the fire, among my oldest and dearest, toasting Joe through the crowd as he takes a nicely blurry photo of me!

In this one, I have the camera, so you can see what my view was from my floor position. People putting their rings around the candles, so everyone gets to make a wish.

My cake came in last and I was too busy cutting it to take pictures! I’ve made it lots of times, but usually, I just put frosting between layers and on top. This time I made extra frosting and did the sides. Decorated with chopped (green) pistachio nuts, a marigold from the garden, and strips of carrot peel I rounded at top with a knife, and made pointed at bottom. Isn’t it cute? I thought it looked like a happy circus cake! There were zero leftovers, no crumb went unattacked! You could do this!!!😘

The fans would love it! This recipe also makes amazing cupcakes. You can tint the cream-cheese frosting if you like.

All home-sweet-home this time of year. Hovering between 50º and 60º most days now. See our wisteria, so insidious, sneaking its way around everything, will crawl under a window and into the house if we aren’t careful! But very gracefully!

I love being a homebody. Garden is changing so fast . . . but we still have a few herbs, some nasturtiums, kale, lettuce, and a couple of tomatoes growing. A few rose buds and marigolds. No freeze yet, so we’re milking the garden for all it’s worth.

The wind blew our yard full of leaves . . .

And, btw, that Carrot cake recipe (and cupcakes) is in the book on the table! (Heart of the Home 30th Anniversary Edition.) If you make it, cool the cake before you put the frosting on!

Look at this! Fun with food! Joe cut into this radish and look what he found! Good enough to sell on eBay! (No, we won’t😅) Had to take a picture of it! Love the tail! Crazy radish bug!

And yes, Casper is back in his high spot, in the guest room on the second floor . . . looking out . . .

Over the neighborhood . . . he’s become a tradition, lighting up this window every October for years.

Cheering a stormy day, a harbinger of Halloween . . . he’s got a perfect view.

I wob him. When we go into downsize mode someday and sell this house, I hope the people who buy it will want Casper too! Because I know he will want to stay.🎃

There is something in October . . .🍂🍁🍂

Out on our walk, the bittersweet is wild!

Such a magical vine . . . invasive, they say, but what a way to go! We’ll be decorating around our front door with it!

The woods are prettier every day . . . we’ve had lots of sunny, crisp, and breezy days . . .

And the rainy days just make it better!

We just make a fire! Last night, girlfriends came over after Mahjong, we sat on the sofa and talked in the quiet, listened to the fire popping, clock ticking, wind blowing outside .  .  . 🍂🍁🍂

What’s up at the Studio? We’re getting new things all the time, I can’t quite keep up. Doing our best to make our web store one-stop shopping where you’ll find lots of little special things filled with ❤️ ~ with the holidays coming up so fast, it’s that time again!

Just in ~ our brand new Winter Dream Charm ~ like any starry night, you can make a wish for dreams come true.

And these too, precious house cut-outs ~ one of which is now sitting on my stove shelf. I tried it all over the house, on a window sill with my rusty birds, on the mantle with a candle behind it, there’s no bad place! It’s going to be gorgeous with my white Christmas trees!

SO, something else . . . There’s a new article featuring guess who? Me! in Edible Vineyard (the 2019 Harvest Issue), a wonderful island food magazine produced through the Martha’s Vineyard Times. It’s available everywhere here on the island . . . and I have to say, every article in it is interesting! Really well-written. Kind of like the New Yorker of food! I don’t know if the paper is selling them, but I’m sure you could ask.

On October 26, I’ll be speaking and signing books at the newly renovated and beautifully restored Carnegie Library on North Water Street in Edgartown, MA, from 2-3 pm, sponsored by the Vineyard Trust and Edgartown Books. It’s free! And they have a gift shop! 😜 I’ll bring signed copies of Edible Vineyard to give out! Come join us! And guess what? Kellee and Sheri will be there (Joe too!). They’re coming to stay with us for a few days next week, to get a little taste of New England fall!🍁 💃

The Edible article was beautifully written by Alisun Armstrong, photos by Lexi Pline. Quotes from the Fairy Tale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. Recipes from the 30th Anniversary version of Heart of the Home and my Autumn Book.❤️

No reason for this photo, just loved the colors!

This too! I told you it was a huge Birthday Month . . . I also had a Birthday Party for Martha . . . this was the table setting. Very simple, purple flowers (Johnson Brothers WindsorWare plates) and plaid napkins on old bedspread, with hydrangeas from the garden.

Colorful! Girl Party! This whole lunch was scarily done without a recipe. When we were in Hudson, I tasted some fantastic things, spicy sweet-potato fingers with minted lemon sauce and a Coconut Cilantro Chutney (with hot peppers and garlic and ginger). I wrote down what I could, so I could try making it at home. I was nervous, realizing too late that this might not be the smartest way to do a birthday lunch, but it turned out GOOD. I served it with deviled eggs, minced red onion, and smoked salmon, and toasted walnut bread ~ with homemade Basil Ice Cream and Lemon Polenta Cake for dessert. My wrist allowed me to do everything except Joe chopped the onion and got that pretty green ice cream out of the freezer container! Pretty darn good!

And then there’s this! Because I couldn’t find them on the Island, I had to make them. Since they’re not here, I imagine you may not be able to find them either, so I thought this recipe could come in handy, for Apple Cider Donuts! They’re easy! They bake in the oven like a cake! You have to have them!🍁

So Here’s what I did . . . first off, on the stove, out of sight, is a pan filled with Apple Cider (the plain, non-alcoholic kind) boiling down to a syrup (don’t worry, I’ll put the recipe at the end of the post). Then I buttered the donut pans with melted butter and set them aside. Don’t have donut pans? Stay tuned . . .

I lightened the flour by stirring it with a whisk so I wouldn’t have to sift it. Then I measured it out lightly and put it in a medium bowl . . .

and whisked it together with baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

In another large bowl, I whisked together egg, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.

whisking . . . 

. . . adding in the reduced cider . . . whisking until it was blended.

Then, because it’s too difficult to get the dough neatly into the tiny donut pans with a spoon, I poured the batter into a plastic bag …

. . . then squeezed the messy thing down to get most of the batter in the bottom of the bag,

then I twisted it up at the top, and cut off a tiny bit of corner, so the batter would come out in a controllable manner.

. . . and Voila . . . into the oven they go!

While they baked, I melted some butter and mixed together sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon for coating the donuts when they were done.

And here they are, hot from the oven. I slipped a tiny spatula around them and they came out like buttah.

I dipped them, tops and bottoms in melted butter, and laid them into bowl with the sugar and spice . . .

Spooned over sugar, pressed it in, until they were well coated. Pushing Joe, get away. no touching. Oh, poor baby, okay, eat one. Gimmie a bite.💋

I wrapped the rest of them in an old linen bridge-table tablecloth, put them in a basket and walked over to lowely’s for Mahjong . . . we start with tea, and yesterday, with donuts still warm from the oven!

The recipe made six large donuts and ten small ones. So, who wants to make donuts? Leave a comment, we’ll have a drawing, and the winner will receive the exact tins I baked these donuts in! Two tins, used once only, they’re festive, they have red bottoms, together they make six large donuts and a dozen little ones . . . there are more in our web store, just in cases. And I’m including a package of holiday recipe cards!

I’ll toss in a signed copy of Edible Magazine too…

So that’s it . . . sunshine through blowing leaves, through kitchen windows, sliding across the stove, weaves through sugar-donut fragrance, skips along the floor, over the table, dancing fairy-like over a bowl of apples, and shimmers onto our walls.

Our world sometimes feels upside-down, we can feel overwhelmed by daily happenings, making ends meet, meeting the needs of our beloveds, drains energy, there’s no rest for the weary or the worried! Dreaming of a better tomorrow? Let it show in everything you do. Let the things you value in life shine through, home, family, friends, the little things that make life sweet. Do stop and smell the flowers, run and catch a leaf in mid air. Watch an old movie with your petty pet. You’ll feel better, I promise. Kisses and blessings on you and yours. Take a deep breath . . . ahhhhh.

Don’t forget to leave your comment for the drawing! HERE is a little chart that shows you how to sign up to get this BLOG delivered to your email address.❤️

A P P L E   C I D E R   D O N U T S 

  Makes six large donuts and ten small ones.

Set out 1/2 c. whole milk and one egg to come to room temp. Slowly melt 1 1/2 c. (12 TB. or 1 1/2 sticks) butter (you’ll ned some to grease the pans, some for donut batter, and some for the topping). Put 1 1/2 c. non-alcoholic apple cider in small saucepan. Bring to boil, then simmer until liquid reduces to one-half cup. 👀 Watch it. Takes about 15 min. Set aside to cool. Use a pastry brush, butter the donut cups. 

Preheat oven to 350º

  • 2 c. all purpose flour, whisked to lighten, then measured
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, room temp.
  • 1/2 c. whole milk, room temp
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 TB. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. reduced apple cider
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar


  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • the rest of the butter, put in shallow wide dish.

Preheat oven to 350º. In a med bowl, whisk together first 7 ingredients. Set aside. In large bowl, whisk the egg, then whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet and whisk until smooth. Fill a large plastic bag with batter. This is messy. Once filled, hold it at top and squeeze batter down, twist the top so batter is pushed into bottom. With scissors cut a tiny corner off the bottom of the bag (not too much, you can always cut it bigger). Squeeze the batter into the donut cavities, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 10-12 min until they spring back when you poke them (I baked the small donuts slightly less time). Let cool 5 min in pans, Use a small spatula to loosen each one and turn them out onto tea-towel-covered cooling rack. While they are baking, make TOPPING: in a small bowl, mix together first 3 topping ingredients. Put the rest of the melted butter in a shallow dish. When donuts are cool enough to handle, dip tops and bottoms in melted butter, put them in the sugar mixture and spoon over generously, patting them so the mixture will hold on. Eat! Lovely in a cloth covered basket to bring to tea! Excellent with a cup of coffee!

*You can make your own PUMPKIN PIE SPICE for the topping, just add 1/2 tsp.nutmeg, 1/4 tsp.ground ginger,  and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves to the cinnamon.

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  1. Darlene Westmoreland says:

    Glad to hear you’re healing and posting lovely autumn blogs! Quick question for you. Will we have any new mug designs to view before years’ end?

  2. A homebody I am, too. Love cooking from scratch, my home, my garden and the daily routines of life. Thanks for your blog, encouraging words and support of home making.

  3. Bergundy says:

    Have never made donuts but would love to try your recipe in your donut pans! Love Mr. Ghost looking out your window. So fun!

  4. GailCollins says:

    Cannot wait to try this recipe. So glad you posted it.

  5. LeeAnn says:

    My 4 “littles” as I call the grands would love these donuts!!!! Really love your blog. Always looking forward to it! So glad you are able to paint again!

  6. Donna says:

    Look delicious! All your recipes do! 🙂

  7. Sharon Calvert says:

    T’would be fun to make cider donuts in the very pans used by Susan Branch herself! I’m sure the California girls had a blast on Martha’s Vineyard; too bad the folks at the book-signing didn’t get a chance to meet them, too. Happy Halloween!

    Sharon in Alabama

  8. Belle says:

    Love you blog.I have a lot of your products you see on line and in book stores.
    But please do talk about politics. You are our happy person. Thank you

  9. Margaret Downs says:

    My husband and I have rediscovered Apple Cider. We went to an apple farm here in Tennessee and bought our first gallon and it was just beyond delicious. So now we are on our third gallon. I read your blog this afternoon and thought, “Now I need to make the Apple Cider donuts!” It may be too late to enter the giveaway but if it is not, please put my name in. I think I have all of your books and am giving some additional books for Christmas gifts! I already have my Susan Branch calendar for 2020. I usually take time to read your blog at a quiet time so I can savor it. Thank you so much for all you do. Love our Susan Branch! Happy that your hand is better!!!

  10. Risa Taylor says:

    All these things are “Awesomely Autumn” 🍂🎃🌻🍁

  11. Connie B says:

    Glad to see your hand is better! My darling hubbies’ favorite thing is an apple cider donut (or 12!). There’s a bakery in Cannon Beach OR that makes wonderful ones and every time he hears of someone visiting there he has them buy a dozen and put them in their freezer until we meet up again. I think I’ll give your recipe a try and surprise him. Of course, then he’ll want me to make them all the time!

  12. Diane says:

    Oh YOU are fabulous dear!!!! I just love everything about YOU!!!! Keep being fabulous and sharing with us all!!!! We appreciate YOU so much!!!! Giving YOU much LOVES and KISSES!!!!

  13. Jazmyne Machado says:

    I can’t believe I didn’t know about your books -and more- til last year. Slowly building my collection, have a lot of catching up to do :D. Love your art and your recipes. Thank you for brightening my life and home.

  14. Jo'L says:

    As always beautiful and comforting. Thanks.

  15. Maria says:

    Love everything. Love to you always

  16. Sheldon Church says:

    Your blog is like a warm blanket and a cup of coffee. So comforting and warm. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the simple things in life.

  17. Karen Wills says:

    Thank-you so much for your blog post. I really love Autumn, it is my favorite time of year. That is why I esp loved this post. I can’t wait for Halloween tomorrow, to watch old Halloween tv show episodes, and see the kids that come trick or treating. I am so glad you are feeling better! Thanks again for all you do.

  18. Janet Retzke says:

    Glad to hear you are healing and back to doing all things you love. (I love what
    you do too). Just got back from a “Trains in New England” tour with friends.
    The trees were just lovely in their reds, golds and green color. Eight days and
    four states; it was a great trip and a great time of year to visit. Continue to
    do all that you do. Oh, by the way, I love, love your calenders!!! Until next time,
    stay safe and WARM.

  19. Georgeanne says:

    What delicious looking donuts! Yum!

  20. Jane says:

    Those donuts look delish! Happy November!!

  21. Marsha Sega says:

    Thanks so much for writing your blog. There is so much awful stuff in the world that I can’t really do anything about. Your blog takes my mind to a pleasant corner and reminds me of all the good there is and that, my friend is what I and everyone else need to focus on. I have a request. Could you offer the pen pal connection again? I was too busy at the time to take advantage but now I’m nearing retirement and would love to have a (some) pen pal(s).

  22. Nancy Cadiente says:

    Oh my so glad you’re on the mend! And I loved your blog this time! My husband and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cider donuts that we find in a little village near us called Oak Glen, California, and have to get them every fall. My hubby was so excited to see your homemade recipe and wants to try it out. Yum! Definitely a great fall treat:-). Thanks for sharing!

  23. Alice says:

    Sounds delicious!

  24. Luanne Cook says:

    I’ve been collecting & gifting your lovely books for many years! Your recipe for beef stew is still my family’s favorite. I love to bake but have never made donuts. Im going to make your apple cider donuts in the mini size for the family to snack on Thanksgiving morning. Thank so much for sharing your creativity, artwork & recipes.

  25. Ginny Petitt says:

    Hi, Susan,
    I saw you were having a sale, so I bought a few things and got them today. I love everything that has your name and input. Later I saw you were selling the lamb cake pan and ordered it. My godmother used to make those each year for our birthday! So I couldn’t not buy it. We used to call it “a wittle wam cake:It’s always been one of my favorite memories. Maybe I’ll make a lamb cake once I get the pan! Then for being you! In March I’m going to become a Great-grandmother and I bought your Baby book for him”Warren Anthony”. His mother is a sweetheart and I’m sure she’ll keep it updated. Can’t wait! Now he has his first
    Susan Branch collectable!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! 🤣 Wittle Wam … had to say it out loud! I just got a lovely long letter from a 26 year old girl (tells me she’s 14 years past 12) who’s first collectible was the Baby Book her mom filled out for her with my art in it. By the time I got done with this letter, I was in tears! Happy new baby Ginny! Thank you!

  26. Carol K says:

    We have apple cider donuts in our area, you just have to hunt for them. The best are at Melnick’s apple farm stand in Oldwick. I have to try your recipe though and have the girls over for tea and donuts. Great blog as always. Thank you.

  27. The Apple Cider Donuts sound wonderful. Our family loves to go to different harvest stores and compare the donuts. We usually bring home a dozen from each location along with their cider and have a feast! We’ll add these to the contest. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Barbara Mutrynowski says:

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe for donuts. We love apple cider donuts but have not seen them around us here in FL. Will definitely being trying these. So glad to hear you are improving with your therapy.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Susan…
    Just now getting around to reading this post. Lovely as always. Just wanted to share that the “sun shining through blowing leaves” pic sure looks like a troupe of friendly ghosts dancing. I love it!
    Happy Fall,

  30. kathiellen says:

    Dear Susan,
    Please tell me that you are going to print the recipe for that TO-DIE-FOR-LOOKING-RASPERRY-CAKE that you put on Twitter!!!! ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      You know I would if I could, but I can’t because that was Sunday afternoon in a park in Marylebone, London! They’d set up a little tea room under the trees. Isn’t it beautiful? I would start by googling “rainbow cake” … although it didn’t have a name on it, it looks like that to me!

  31. Nona says:

    Love the pictures you share. Can’t wait to make those wonderful donuts.

  32. Janie Phillips says:

    Love your picture of the Christmas house and thank you for the kind words! XOXO ❤️

  33. Sheryl from Magalia says:

    How did I miss this blog? I don’t know. I think you must have a winner for the prize by now. I must make the donuts, so I want to order the donut pan. I am a happy gal, but your blog puts me over the top.

  34. Barbara from northern California says:

    I made apple cider doughnuts from a recipe almost identical to yours, and have a caveat.
    If anyone is making these, I would recommend having enough pans to use up all the batter at once. I did not, so had to fill the pan a second time after the first one baked.
    The second part of the dough became a bit, well, almost rubbery, and was extremely hard to pipe. It baked fine but the piping was an ordeal.
    Next time I’ll make them in one fell swoop!

  35. Sharon Watson says:

    Susan Happy Thanksgiving

    What a total surprise my Fall Willard popped up on my email today. It gave me an automatic SMILE across my face.

    I am loving every word and pictures on it. Have a crisp Fall and keep cozy.


  36. Nan says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog!!! Will you ever bring back the Pumpkinhead and Santa mug? I hadn’t been collecting your mugs when those two came out. 🙁
    Keep doing what you are doing! You remind us all about what is important in life!

    • sbranch says:

      I love both those cups myself and only have one of each, and now I fear what if, so maybe I will remake those next year! Thank you Nan!

  37. Kathleen Hansen says:

    Just received my Willard which I loved. But there was no comments section so I am trying here. I hope you get this….you mentioned Grandma memoirs during the holidays and I have a lovely one that I received from You! Many years ago you wrote about your family tradition of drying out bread for dressing on an old fashioned ironing board. You have reprinted this photo a couple of times and I smile and remember those family Thanksgiving preparations with my English Grandma. I put the copied picture on my refrigerator each year. Necessity is the mother of invention…who knew how well the ironing board would work?
    Any chance of a repeat my copy is beginning to fade? I also love the chicken bookmark from past years. Another copy please? Love to you and your family, Kathleen Hansen
    [email protected]

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Kathleen, if you go back to your Willard, to the part where I talk about my Grandma’s dressing, you’ll see some colored letters … that’s actually a link to the HOW TO page for making the dressing. . . the photo you want with the ironing board is there! I’ll ask Kellee to put the chicken bookmark up in Free Things (shopping section of my blog, list on the left, very bottom). Happy Thanksgiving!

  38. Terry Fest says:

    I am a DONUT. My girls know I don’t want a birthday cake give me a maple covered donut – applesauce donut with sugar/butter topping and put a candle in it. It would be the joy of my life to receive a gift like this from your kitchen to mine. Either way, may the winner use the pan and recipe and feel love.
    p.s. I posted this again as I didn’t see that my post was visible….perhaps I don’t understand the process.

    • sbranch says:

      I am looking at three comments from you Terry … I’m sorry, this system with WordPress is confusing for everyone. Your comments do GO, but then they wait for me to “Moderate” … and for some reason, there’s nothing to tell you that it’s “waiting for moderation.” But here I am, moderating … I love your donut story! I think I might be a donut too! For sure I have never met one I didn’t like!

  39. Stephanie C says:

    Hi Susan, loved the new Willard! I choose not to be on FB and I am so sad I will not be able to view your Holiday specials. But I am so looking forward to your new book Enchanted!! I am so thankful for the joy you bring to me, Wishing you, Joe and Jack a blessed Thanksgiving!
    A long time follower from snail mail days (saved every one of them)

Comments are closed.