Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Magical, Sparkly, Creative New Year!

I'm not normally what you'd call a "New Years" kind of person; I don't make resolutions, I don't do the traditional (in these parts anyway) pork and sauerkraut New Year's Day dinner (and while we're at it, um - eeeeeewwwww!) I don't go to parties or stay up to watch the ball drop, and I'd rather have root canal than watch football....

But this hasn't been the typical year.

So I must admit I'm feeling a little excited about seeing it come to a close, and imagining all the possibilities a bright, shiny new 2009 holds....

As I said, no resolutions. But perhaps a few intentions:

An wait - make that a less cluttered workspace. Maybe some new, taller book shelves to store the contents of assorted bins and cardboard boxes.

A few more days off. It's important to replenish the creative well once in a while. ;)

More blog giveaways. I LOVE giveaways!!

Longer walks with the Aussies. THEY love walks (and I need them, hehe!)

A line of fine art prints and notecards on Etsy (stay tuned!)

More time counting my many blessings. :)

Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone who's purchased my work, placed bids, commented here on the blog or sent encouraging emails throughout year! As challenging as 2008 has been, it's also been such a gift getting to "know" everyone here in bloglandia...I feel like part of a very special creative community, and I know 2009 will be filled with even more magic and creativity!

Oh - and before I forget, the trio you see above are listed individually on Etsy now (sooooooooo proud of myself for finally getting something listed, teehee!)

Wishing everyone a magic, sparkly, shiny and CREATIVE New Year!

¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*´¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ ~ Carolee (throwing confetti!)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jumping Back In...

The holidays have been a bit of a whirlwind here, with a visit from Courtney, a steady stream of parties and guests, and waaaaaaaaay too many cookies and sweets for my already goddess size figure, hehe....(Back on the diet wagon after the first!)

Bestest gift of the year came from my Mother; none other than The King of Mice, teehee!! He's holding court on my computer desk at the moment - not shown here in the photo because it's more than a bit cluttered.

I'm back at work today, finishing a witchy tea caddy ("Wicked Good Brew") suitable for hanging on a wall, to be listed on eBay tomorrow evening. I'm also working on a couple of commissions, and have a few other wicked cool surprises up my sleeve for the New Year, so stay tuned....

OH! And speaking of staying tuned, the playlist here is no longer on "auto-start", so if you want to hear the new tunes I've added, you'll need to scroll down to the purple playlist on the right and click play. Its a random assortment of personal favorites, beginning with a few upbeat pieces for the New Year. I just LOVE listening to playlists as I create (my own and a few others!) but wanted to make this one optional, as it's not always convenient for those in the workplace. ;)

Many, many thanks again to everyone who mailed gifts, and sent cards and e-cards! I DO promise to make it up to you this year with a few giveaways and perhaps some cards of my own!

In the meantime, I'm off to listen to the new playlist, and face what's left of the day!

Artful Blessings,
~ Carolee

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

I can't begin to tell you how touched I've been each day as I collect the mail, discovering another card, another letter, and even a couple of gifts! And I must admit I'm also more than a little embarrassed I was unable to reciprocate. (I feel like such a slacker - didn't even manage to get cards out this year!) It's been a challenging year for us, as I know it's been for many of you too. And that so many of you thought of us this season just overwhelms me, and is yet another reminder of how truly blessed I am. :)

As uncertain as these times are, I'm heartened by the connection we all share - and whether you celebrate the day or not, the spirit of Christmas - the spirit of peace and goodwill - still abides.

My wish for you this Christmas is love and light, and my wish for 2009 is a year rich with discovery and creativity, magic and joy, peace and hope.

Much love,
~ Carolee

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

The tree is finally finished, and not a moment too soon, as I still have quite a bit of baking to do and Courtney arrives the day after tomorrow!

I always have a horrible time taking tree photos - shot over 60 of them trying to get the right balance between that nighttime glowy, sparkly look (which is what the tree REALLY looks like) and daytime clarity. But it never fails - without the flash, the whole thing looks monotone and out of focus, and with the flash, it looks like the tree lights are off....Ah well, it is what it is, and I have baking to do, hehe...

Yes, it's artificial, *sigh*....Not my preference, but it suits our hectic lifestyle...

A close up of some of the more sparkly pieces. The glittery copper bird's nest is a favorite....

I just love these ornaments - made of mercury glass, I found them in a shop in downtown Lancaster a few years ago. The Sun is winking at the moon....

And aren't these guys great?! Old Sylvestri ornaments, mass produced, but they remind me of folk art woodcarvings (something I've always wanted to try!)

Now, on to the baking.....I've just finished whipping up a batch of chocolate fudge with walnuts, and thumbprint cookies are next. Last Christmas, my Mother gave me the most wonderful gift - the very same Betty Crocker "Cooky Book" I used as a child in the '60s! It's in print again, and I'm having sooooooooo much fun trying all the old recipes, hehe....Have to add, if you look very closely at my kitchen countertop (the old formica "boomerang" pattern), it SERIOUSLY matches the retro cookbook, lol...

As the cookies bake, I'll be painting a few last minute gifts....The only problem with being a painter and making a commitment to hand made gifts, is that the holidays become a little too much like WORK...Note to self: start knitting much earlier next year so as not to have to PAINT all these gifts!!

Speaking of painting, I have a few new pieces coming just after Christmas for eBay and Etsy too, including a witchy and whimsical salt box. Until then, there's the sparkly black cat clock and a bunny sign listed on eBay (although I think the clock ends tonight!) Talk about time flying....

I'll end with a heartfelt apology to all of you who've been kind and thoughtful enough to send us Christmas cards. My intention was to do the same, but it never happened. Between the time crunch, and financial challenges which necessitated working non-stop, it just wasn't possible....But please know I love you all, and send wishes for a joyous and blessed Christmas!

Until next time,
~ Carolee

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Happy and Blessed Solstice!

Midwinter...The shortest day and longest night of the year. It offically began at 7:04 this morning here on the east coast with the rising of the sun.

Although my own spiritual path is what many would consider more traditional, I have a deep respect for the ancient roots of December's Christian celebration, and find this an almost magical day; a day for honoring nature, for remembering goodwill, for merrymaking with friends and family....And even a cursory glance at the origins of the Christmas celebration shows that solstice is about as traditional as it gets. :)

I'll be spending the day putting the finishing touches on the tree (photos soon!), baking cookies, making another big kettle of gypsy soup, and painting a couple of last minute gifts for friends and family. I'm also going to make an effort to spend some time outdoors, replenishing the bird feeders, gathering holly from the backyard, and of course, walking the Aussies. It's a bit icy out there right now, but I'm hoping it will melt by this afternoon. I'm not the most surefooted individual, hehe...

Later this evening, we'll open a bottle of wine, sit in the living room and admire the finally finished tree.

In the meantime, I'm off to light some candles, listen to the playlist here and photograph a sparkly ginger cat sign, which will join a few others already on eBay later this evening....

Wishing everyone a Magical Midwinter!!

~ Carolee

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blessings Bright!

"Magic, moonlit winter's night, Black cats gather, Blessings bright."

I wanted the last timepiece this year to be something special, and hope I've succeeded.....The photos don't really show the sparkle, but the white base of the clock, like the snow on the interior, is covered with diamond dust (vintage glass glitter). It has a sort of three dimensional look, as if you could walk right in.....Oh - and Swarovski crystals mark the quarter hours! Above, the "Mother in the Moon" is a wooden ball with a bit of sculpting material added, and is also sprinkled with sparkling diamond dust....

It's listed now on eBay, with a "buy it now" option for quick shipping.

I also hope to list a few "quickies" tomorrow - welcome plaques suitable for last minute gift giving - a couple of snowmen and a winter wreath design.

Off to bake some cookies now.....

~ Carolee

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sneak Peek.....

Apologies for the darkness of the photo. The light fades so early these days, but I just had to share this with you.... I soooooooooo wanted to keep this piece! It would look great on the dining room table I've been planning to paint for.....oh, about two years now (seriously - there's a full size, unfinished dining room table leaning against a wall in my living room just waiting to be turned into a big piece of art!)

But much as I like this lazy susan, I like new art supplies and heat in the winter even better, hehe - so look for it tomorrow on eBay, at 9PM eastern. I'll be offering a "buy it now" option on the next few pieces, so as to give them time to arrive at their new homes before Christmas. I just love the thought of my work being a part of someone's celebration - makes it much easier to part with. ;) *UPDATE* - SOLD.

As for our own celebration, I'm afraid I'm running incredibly late this year. The Christmas tree is a work in progress - photos coming soon, assuming Merlin and Arthur don't attempt to climb it, and Cadie and Cosmo don't wrestle it to the ground. Next comes the baking; thumbprint cookies, pizelles, fudge, bourbon balls, sugar cookies and Russian teacakes. And possibly a fruitcake or two, although it's getting a bit late for those, as they greatly benefit from time in the freezer (Yep, I'm one of those crazy people who likes fruitcake).

My hope was to send my own printed Christmas and Yuletide cards to everyone on my snail mailing list, but I'm afraid it's too late now. Not much to do, except plead organizational impairment....

That's about it for today. I'm off to put some seasonal music in the CD player now (The Medieval Babes' "Mistletoe and Wine") and work on that tree! Back again in a day or two...

~ Carolee

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Magical Mitten Box

A few days late, but hopefully worth the wait, here's a peek at this week's eBay offering:

Today was the perfect day to complete this piece; listening to Christmas and Solstice music as snow fell on the skylight overhead. It took considerably longer than I'd anticipated, and as usual I got a bit carried away with detail, but I'm very happy with the result. As with other recent pieces, I didn't add diamond dust (vintage glass glitter) to this one, just in case it will be put to practical use with small children. But I think I'll offer to add it - a touch of sparkle always makes the snow look so magical!

Snowflakes inside too:

I've been agonizing over a price on this one - it took many days to complete, but I'd also like to keep it reasonable and provide a "buy it now" incentive (had to order more heating oil today - better than it was, but yikes!)....So I'm thinking in the $325 - $375 range, which is quite a bit less than I'd normally charge for something this large and labor intensive. :) *UPDATE* - SOLD.

I have some other very exciting news - I'm set up to accept Visa and Master card here at home now! Although most people use paypal, there are some who are uncomfortable with electronic payments. If you fall into the latter category, and would still like to make a purchase via credit card (Visa, MC or AmEx), just email me for my phone number, and I can accept payment over the phone.

That's about it for today....Look for the mitten box on eBay this evening at 9PM. I'm off to do shipping now, and hopefully persuade John to drive to the postal station in the snow. ;)

And then......

I hope to finally get the tree up!! I think this is the latest I've ever left the holiday decorating, but such is self employment (I have a demanding boss, teehee!!) I'll share photos of the tree as soon as it's finished. :)

In the meantime, stay warm and enjoy the blessings of the season!

~ Carolee

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pennsylvania Dutch Pearl of Wisdom for the Day:

"The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get!"

This old saying has been around for ages, but I'm certain that whoever said it was an artist. ;)

OK, maybe a Mom.

Probably both.

In an effort to Deck the Halls, Make the Yuletide Gay, and still actually work, I've been running around like the proverbial headless chicken...

This morning's plan was to be out the door and on the way to the grocery store by 7AM, in order to beat the Sunday crowds, and be back here to paint by 11. Sounds easy, right? Not quite. Not twelve days before Christmas at Wegmans. Everyone and his brother had the same idea, and it took me almost three hours just to get through my shopping list.....Minus the apple miny jelly I need for thumbprint cookies, I might add. Why does no one carry this anymore? Mental note: find apple mint jelly elsewhere this week....

At any rate, the painting began closer to noon, but I was so pleased with the crescent moon face I was painting on the top of the mitten box, I didn't even care.


I noticed I'd painted it upside down! Yep - completely topsy-turvy moon....

Out came the sandpaper, followed by more blue and periwinkle paint. Magical swirly background, good as new, and right-side-up crescent moon! Which is where we are now. :) Needless to say, the mitten box won't be finished tonight. I won't even promise tomorrow night, although I'm hopeful!

In the meantime, it's back to work.....

Wish me luck!
~ Carolee

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just in Time for Winter.....

A magical mitten box!

Haven't painted a mitten box in absolute ages, but when I saw this piece, I knew it would be perfect! Had we lived in a cold climate when Courtney was little, one of these would have been a must, sitting at the back door, filled with mittens, gloves and maybe a scarf or two (it's a BIG box!)

What shall I paint on it?




Kittens who've lost their mittens?

All of the above?

We'll see - more often than not, these things take a direction of their own....Look for it Sunday evening on eBay. :)

~ Carolee

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." ~ Roald Dahl

I have some very exciting news this morning; something I've been imagining for a good bit has finally come to fruition - I'm a member of the PFATT Marketplace! Some of you may have seen ads in magazines for this wonderful group and their website (most recently in Mary Englebreit's Home Companion). I've been a member of the eBay group for several months now, but the Marketplace is their online site, updated once a month, where we folk artists are able to offer our work for direct sale.

My plan was to offer three pieces, but when it came down to the deadline the weather and my camera didn't cooperate - so my first offering will be just this one piece. I seem to be on a roll with tuxedo cats this season - there's something so striking about the black and white against a snowy night sky!

I have several other magical winter pieces in the works, which will appear on eBay and Etsy very soon - two small boxes with glittery winter moon toppers, and a sparkly snowman sign proclaiming "Peace on Earth". And not to forget Halloween, look for a wicked cool hinged treat box too (black and orange of course!)

And finally, however you spend your days, whatever your circumstances, I hope you are finding your own magic this season!

Artful Blessings,
~ Carolee

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Wicked Nutcracker

I've always loved "The Nutcracker"; so much so in fact, that my business is in part named for my daughter Courtney's favorite character from the ballet. When she was little, seeing the Nutcracker ballet was a part of our Christmas tradition, and the moment in act one where Mouse King appears on stage never failed to elicit excitement. (The King of Mice is also a favorite, quirky character in a John Irving novel, so the name has twofold meaning).....At any rate, when I saw this unfinished piece, I just knew I had to paint him with a Halloween Twist, hehe....

Am I crazy, or would this be the perfect holiday gift for the Halloween lover?! Or perhaps the King of Mice collector? ;)

He was such a delight to paint, I'm afraid I went a little crazy with the detail, but I'm so happy with the result. This one will be very hard to part with, but I'm trusting he'll find a good home. Look for him on eBay later this evening, and hopefully a couple of new boxes over the weekend!

Between work, a hair appointment, and having friends over for dinner tomorrow, it's shaping up to be a busy weekend - and somewhere in there I need to find time to decorate - eek! So I'm repeating last year's call for elves (for all the good it will do me, haha) - if you know where I can find any, do tell!! Or better yet, just send them over, haha.....

Back again in the next day or two, but in the meantime, I'm sending you some sparkly holiday magic!
¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*´¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ ~ Carolee

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eye Candy and Inspiration!

I took a rare day off today to meet a friend for a visit to the National Christmas Center, in Paradise, PA, and have to say I was completely overwhelmed....Room after room of holiday eye candy (and some major nostalgia too, hehe!)

Since a description can't possibly do this place justice, I'll share a few photos - taken by a friend since I forgot to bring my camera (thanks, Barbara!) I'm going back in a couple of days though, so don't be surprised if I post more....

Does anyone remember the days before dollar stores? The days of five and dime stores? Here's one wall of an entire room decorated like the Christmas department at Woolworths, circa mid 1950's:

And a few photos of "Tudor Village" where you walk through a story where fairy tale creatures (some animatronic) make Christmas come alive:

And Santa's Workshop:

And one of soooooooooo many display cases, this one featuring vintage baking goodies:

Big thanks to Jen of Gypsy Mare Studios for recommending the visit - it was absoltely amazing, and sooooooooooo inspiring!

I also met a fellow knitter there - Wendy, who recently opened a new yarn shop in Lancaster, which is on my list of places to visit SOON (like I need more yarn, hehe)...

Just a couple more weeks of Christmas/Yule/Holiday work (still mixed with the wicked and whimsical of course) then it's back to Halloween full tilt....The ideas are spinning around in my head faster than I can write them all down, nevermind paint them - thank heaven for notebooks and sketchbooks, yes?

That's about it for now...Look for something new tomorrow evening on eBay.....

Until then,
~ Carolee

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I think this is one of my favorite pieces to date. I can just picture it holding treasured heirloom ornaments, perhaps someday becoming an heirloom itself.

I used Merlin and Arthur's baby photos as reference (Christmas of 2006 they were just 8 weeks old, and soooooooo cute!) The last photo is Arthur actually in the tree, hehe. Thankfully, they've outgrown the climbing, but are still fascinated with the ornaments. :)

I'm making the vintage glass glitter on this one optional, in case little fingers may be helping to decorate the tree...

Oh - and around the edge I've written the real treasures of Christmas; ~ Faith and hope ~ Love and joy ~ Peace on Earth ~ Friends and Family ~ Angels among us ~

It will list this evening with a "buy it now" option of $375 - considerably lower than I'd usually ask for a commission or reserve on something like this, but I'm hoping it will help with some recent expenses (and help with shopping for all the Christmas baking and cooking). :) *UPDATE* - Sold.

Speaking of baking, John will be soooooooooooooo happy when he walks in the door tonight - the aroma of fresh baked honey wheat bread is mingling with that of the spicy soup simmering on the stovetop. Home made bread is one of his favorite things ever. It might even make up for the vegetarian dinner I'm serving him, hehe (see previous post) ;)

On that note, I'd better get moving. I need to run to the post office to do this week's shipping just as soon as he gets home with the car!

Back again tomorrow with some extra magical photos....

~ Carolee

Monday, December 1, 2008

Treasures :)

This ornament chest (the last this year) is turning out to be much more labor intensive than originally planned, but I'm so pleased with the way it's turning out...I'll be working on it into the night and most of day tomorrow, trimming the trees with glass balls, snow and magical fairy lights, and adding a couple of playful kittens in the foreground (and maybe in the tree, hehe!) Inside are twelve compartments to store special keepsake ornaments, and plenty of room inside the lid for personalization. I'm loving the combination of deep blue, teal and burgundy and have made a mental note to use this palette again....

In any event, hope to have photos of the finished piece posted here tomorrow afternoon. :)

I also hope to make a kettle of Gypsy Soup and a couple loaves of homemade honey wheat bread tomorrow. No bread machine here - I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to breadmaking....there's something very relaxing and zen about the process and I think a machine would ruin it for me.

No microwave either.

In fact I have friends who are still astounded I make my living on the computer. One friend out in California used to say "Carolee - oh, she'll get a computer just as soon as someone invents a woodburning one", hehe....(this was obviously someone who underestimated my dislike for the rules and structure of traditional employment). ;)

OK, enough rambling - back to "work" I go.....Well, back to painting anyway. It's difficult to call something work when you enjoy it so much....

Until tomorrow,
~ Carolee