Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Seasonings

Here's a sprinkling of Christmas images-

Putting UP the tree!


With my dancing mentor, Mindy.

A lovely luncheon at a friend's home.

At Z's Trees...
My friend, Elaine Z...

Tree elf.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter GreenPrints in my mailbox!

My copies of GreenPrints arrived today!  There's my self portrait (about 20 years younger and right-handed instead of left-handed) on the cover. I've been illustrating stories for them nearly ten years now and it's truly a blessing to be part of the GreenPrints family of writers and illustrators. In case you've never heard of it, it's a quarterly  publication with heartwarming stories and art that reflect the essence of gardening.

I took the time this morning to order a couple gift subscriptions- for my sister-in-law in TX and our local library!  Had a nice chat with Pat Stone, the editor...he reports that the 25 th anniversary of GP will be celebrated in 2 1/2 years:  I'm already marking my calendar!
winter GP 2012 cover

Wreath upon our Door,,,

Pine  cones and acorns- wreath upon my door, gathered lovingly ..from the forest' floor.
 Pine cones and acorns,
Wreath upon my door;
Gathered lovingly
From the forest floor.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


A sure sign of the Christmas season is a new poinsettia to enjoy. Thank you, Renee!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Loving Legacy

My dear Mother-in-law died recently after a long Summer and Fall of failing health, hospitalization,   slow rehabilitation and incremental recovery, a joyous return to her home through the help of her devoted sons, hope, determination, the hard work of physical therapy, additional setbacks that necessitated her return to the hospital, and finally hospice care. Throughout her ordeal she retained her constant faith and love for her family, and received undying love in return from her four grown sons and their families, friends and neighbors. She left a legacy of love- of her devoted family, of her church and of the Christmas season ( all holidays, actually). Her interest and concern extended well beyond her immediate family to neighborhood children and the youngsters in her church family.

Even though I don't remember the names of all the people I've met in the past couple days at the calling hours and church's reception after the lovely, solemn yet celebratory funeral, I'm impressed with the genuine feeling of love and support that everyone offered through their  mere presence, handshakes, hugs, a light touch on the shoulder, a nod or a sincere smile, stories and offerings of sandwiches, cookies, snacks, etc. People have a way of coming together to offer genuine, loving support in times of need, but you have to be willing to allow that support to happen.

I think Marijane's legacy will live on in genuine love and concern for one another. Each year, she loved being in the midst of her family's large and noisy Christmas gift exchange and feast, often fitting about 15 people into her small living room, already filled by a fully decorated tree. We will continue to keep her joyful presence in mind and heart during the midst of our  Christmas celebrations.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Small Decorations


I bought this small, sequined tree at the Chenango Valley Craft show in November, and it will spend most of December hanging from the curtain's edge of our front door's window.


I bought this small, fabric tree at the senior center's craft show this past weekend.  It has found a spot to remind us of the season, between some nesting Santas and a red, wooden, Swedish horse, on the windowsill.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday in Advent

Advent begins today, the fourth Sunday before Christmas as we prepare our homes and hearts for the arrival of the Christ child into our daily life. An Advent wreath was always a part of my childhood. Usually we poked evergreen branches into a Styrofoam ring and added four tapers to it, and placed it in the center of our dining room table. We try to continue the tradition today with our own family.

Earlier this week, I placed one of my Mom's oil paintings in our living room. It's a lovely little scene of my Grandfather McKee in a horse drawn cutter in our maple lined driveway. I imagine my Grandmother, Lillian, took his photo with her little box camera, around 1920.  My Mom was an amateur painter. For many years she met in the basement of her friend, retired English teacher, Esther Brooks, who was an amazing friend, artist, gardener, cook...just an all- round interesting person. Esther was hostess and mentor to a diverse group of women, who met in her basement weekly to work on paintings or pastels, share conversation and potluck lunches. Wanda, Dot, Dot (Martina), Olive, Esther, Marion (my Mom) and a few others helped each other with their paintings and problems...Mom painted what she loved- her Mother's doll, Carrie, yellow tulips, our dog, Woody, our cat, Oleo, her first grandson Mike,  a scene near Tin Cup, CO, her father's barn... the list goes on and on.  I'm awed by the love she put into her paintings and amazed at the amount.  They are a tangible reminder of her and that wonderful time in her life.

G.W. McKee,circa 1920,painted by Marion M. Cook,1980

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Joy to you in this December Month!

It's Merry December, a time to celebrate each morning as a gift... may you all have a spiritually full Christmas season!

I love the preparation for Christmas more than the actual day...people seem more open to thinking of others, and take efforts to create a little magic- just look around at the lights and decorations.  Christmas  doesn't have to be commercialized...it depends on how YOU celebrate it in your heart.

Today, I hope to go to the local senior citizen's craft bazaar at a local church, and make snow flake cookies later this afternoon.

Recipe for Snow Flakes

Uses a cookie press (Mirro cooky press)
Bake time:12-15 min
Temperature: 350ºF
Yield- 6 dozen

1 cup shortening
3 ounces of cream cheese (the secret ingredient)
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange rind (the other secret ingredient!)
2 1/2cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*Cream shortening, cream cheese and sugar.
*Beat in egg yolk, vanilla and grated orange rind.
*Gradually, blend in flour, salt and cinnamon.
*Fill cookie press. Form cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.
*Add decorations- colored sugar, sprinkles, etc.
*Bake at 350ºF for about 12 minutes.
*Remove from trays onto cooling rakes.