It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Cotton is ready to go cut our Christmas tree...
Cotton with her "doggles"
We're blessed to have many beautiful trees to choose from on our property.
It may not be as thick as a tree lot tree, nor as perfect as a fake one, but it shouts Christmas to us!
Each year we add an ornament with meaning for something notable that happened.
For the year of the big snow...2010
This year's says "We give thanks, 2014"
For, this has been a year of many blessings. 
In between trimming the tree, over 12 dozen "Merry Cookies" were made and decorated. Then lots of fudge and lemon snowballs. 

Here's my in-laws' family.  (colorful and sweet)

Many of you know I am not a fan of chocolate (odd, I know) so we make just about any flavor cookie and candy except chocolate. Well, I did give in and make some chocolate fudge to send in gift packages.
As we count down to Christmas, times get hectic and tension can surface. Grab a cookie and a cup of cocoa, stare at your twinkling tree and count your blessings.
Enjoy the season of Christmas 2014; it won't be here again, and there is so much to be thankful for!

The Color of Red Velvet Cake

Yes! Pantone's color of the year was announced this morning, and I am in love. It is rich and delicious; the color of sumptuous red velvet cake...

It's called "Marsala" number 18-1438 TCX. 
It's not quite brown, not quite red; sort of an in between color that will go with about anything.
I think it is a classy color.
I can't wait to incorporate this into my art. 
With that inspiration, I'm off to paint. I have three 2016 calendars designed that need to get out. hmmm...maybe a little marsala can be worked into the borders.
I hope your day is as sumptuous!

Fruity "Mincemeat" Pie

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! As many of you know, this is my very favorite holiday!
It wouldn't be a traditional celebration in our house without both pumpkin and mincemeat pies. This recipe is full of yummy fruits that soak in spices and rum up to two weeks before the big day. 
Here's my easy recipe that smells heavenly and has a festive holiday flavor:
This makes enough filling for a 9" deep dish pie.

Mincemeat filling
Refrigerate for 2 weeks.
You can make small individual pies (freeze some)
Don't forget the whipped cream! I add a little rum to whipped heavy cream, but you can also add either rum or vanilla to store-bought whipped cream that comes in a tub.

Another Beautiful Day

Happy Veterans Day! Many schools have off (lucky guys!) but us worker bees continue buzzing on. Still, I am making time to enjoy a most beautiful walk in the autumn sun today and contemplate the many sacrifices our veterans and their families have given.

I want to share autumn at my home with you today. It's a very golden day, which I'm enjoying to the utmost since the big arctic storm is on it's way and snowflakes are expected tomorrow. 
vineyards in my neighborhood, the "Hills of Dundee"
I never tire of the views as I drive up our street to do errands
a winery up the street from us
Or the walk down our long country drive to get the mail, gazing on our neighboring vineyard.
We see this view each time we drive home through our little town.
Or even just three steps off my back porch!
The walk from our porch to the back property.
Even our koi are cloaked in autumn hues
we have 8 large koi and 7 babies born this spring.
Our blueberry bushes gave us close to 30 gallons of berries this summer, and now they brighten our yard with deep orange and crimson; they deserve a good winter's rest.
two families of songbirds nested in this condo amid the blueberry
bushes this summer
I think I'll grab a steaming cup of spiced cider and meander a little longer along trails of crispy leaves and piney smells, for winter will all-to-soon cover this colored beauty with winter white.

Yummy Birthday(s)

These last couple days have been filled with birthday fun. It started the day before my birthday. Painting was interrupted by a heavenly smell coming out of the kitchen. I stepped out of my studio just in time to catch this!
And, this! 
(Not to worry...beaters were soaked in bleachy water)
That afternoon, lemon icing was dripping down Glen's delicious masterpiece...
And then, final touch; a topping of freshly picked raspberries from the berry patch....
We couldn't wait. We had our own high tea with lemon-raspberry cake and a steaming cup of earl grey tea. You can get his easy-to-make recipe for Glen's Lemon-Raspberry Cake here. 
Glen's lemon-raspberry cake with fresh raspberry jam filling
I decided to turn out the lights in the paint studio early and get some fresh air after such a decadent snack. I noticed even our trees were all lemon and raspberry!
One of our many sunset maples
One of our silver maples
The stately red maple; a Christmas present from my in-laws
A beautiful autumn day greeted us again the next day, my birthday, so we had a beautiful country drive through golden vineyards and a visit to some fun shops. Cotton lives for drives such as these (and also licking cake beaters, I found out.)

Time to greet the paparazzi
You may have seen her recently on some social media sites. "Her Coolness" gets a lot of pictures taken in her Doggles.

Getting older doesn't bother me a bit, especially with celebrations such as this!

The Last Day of Summer

It is bittersweet that today is the last day of summer. Autumn used to be my favorite time of year, but summer has taken over the #1 spot, with autumn a close second.

It has been a very busy summer here. With gorgeous Pacific Northwest weather, we had picnics, camp-outs, barbecues and lots of fun celebrations like birthdays and weddings and anniversaries. All of that was in between one of my busiest "artwork" seasons. While enjoying the summer sun, I painted a lot of snowmen and Christmas botanicals. Here's just a few pictures of our summer 2014 in rural Oregon:

Sunflowers stand guard over the vegetable garden
"I brake for nurseries"
I felt as if I was floating in a puddle of the brightest
blue watercolor paint during the boat trip on Crater Lake
Crater Lake was so cold, but Glen and I had to dangle our feet in
one of the deepest and most pristine lakes in the world.
the ever-changing front perennial flower garden  
Cotton enjoyed strawberry ice cream on the 4th of July
We had the largest crops of tomatoes, corn, peppers
and blueberries this year. Glen learned to can!
And now, as the page on my daily planner turns, summer of 2014 is gone and autumn arrives. I see leaves turning red and gold, and rain is returning. The excitement of upcoming holiday celebrations and cozy autumn visits with friends and family has replaced the melancholy that summer is gone. 
I hope that you had a beautiful summer, and that now you are also looking forward to celebrating the wonderful fall awaiting us. Here's wishing you many beautiful autumn sunsets.
One of many beautiful sunsets in autumn

Happy 4th of July

Hooray for the...



Waving in the summer breeze, a truly beautiful sight...

Hooray for the USA