Monday, June 29, 2009

Still Immersed in Wonderland....

Well, the Mad Tea Party was (I mean IS!) soooooooo much fun, I just had to paint it....

These hand made wooden tea chests are one of my absolute favorite things to paint, but this is the very last one! The wonderful artisan who designed these is no longer making them. Needless to say, I wanted to make this last one truly special....

It took DAYS and DAYS to paint all the detail, and to be honest, I toyed with the idea of keeping it here (especially since I LOVE the Mad Tea Party theme)- but sell it I must....

It's listed now on eBay, with a buy it now option. :)

I'm still visiting all the Mad Tea Partiers, although at the rate I'm going, it may take the rest of the week, hehe! Many thanks to everyone who's dropped by my little party the last couple of days - I do hope to reciprocate!

That's about it for tonight...It's shaping up to be a busy week, so stay tuned for more wicked and whimsical art....

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King of Mice and Queen of Painting Attend a Mad Tea Party!

Sound the trumpets, throw the confetti, raise the banners, release the balloons and begin the drumroll, please.....

Today's the day for the fabulous Miss Vanessa Valencia's "Mad Tea Party"!

For those of you not familiar, this year makes it officially an annual event; a magical cyber tea-party of sorts, where just like Alice, you can "begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end: then stop." :)

Just click here, and you'll be magically transported to Wonderland (the beginning) and make your way from there to visit all the other Mad Tea Partiers, including yours truly!

The King of Mice and I had our own little Mad Tea Party this morning, attended by the White Rabbit in the form of a teapot. Three white rabbits if you count the sugar and creamer...

Don't the cupcakes look yummy?! They're French vanilla, with real vanilla beans and homemade buttercream icing. I topped them with sprinkles galore and sugared black raspberries....

The tea is called "Happiness", and was very kindly sent to me by a wonderful collector who makes these delicious blends herself - soooooooooooooo good! If you'd like to try some, you can visit her at Magical Momentz (I ♥ the Flower Power blend!)

And while we're on the subject of tea, isn't it absolutely liquid magic??!! I adore tea, and think there are very few day to day troubles that can't be assuaged by a deep breath and a cup of hot tea. Pure magic. ;)

I'll be spending the weekend "visiting" with the other Tea Partiers, as I put the details on an Alice inspired tea chest....

It's the very last one I have, and I've been saving it for something special. The piece itself is beautifully made by a local artisan. I love the brass piano hinge at the back. A little sketch, a little paint, and it's transformed....

Oh!! And silly me - in all the excitement, I nearly forgot. I have a little Alice in Wonderland inspired giveaway to share! Just a little trinket - a purple glass bottle, bejeweled and labeled "Drink Me". Fun, yes?! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here, and if you're a blog follower (very easy to sign up), you'll be entered twice. Easy-peasy. I'll draw a name next Saturday morning. :)

Off I go visiting now, running as late as the White Rabbit.....

¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`• ~ Carolee

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Oh My Ears and Whiskers, How Late It's Getting!"

I confess - I'm the White Rabbit at the Tea Party!

Here it is, officially the 27th - the BIG DAY - and I'm up until the wee hours preparing everything for Vanessa's fabulous Mad Tea Party, I mean today!

The cupcakes are very nearly finished....

They're French vanilla flavored - made with real vanilla beans, and homemade buttercream icing - yummmmmm. I was thinking perhaps some sugared black raspberries on top?

The little giveaway trinket is ready to go as well (open to all, and a double chance for blog followers!)...details tomorrow - um, I mean later today, hehe!

I've selected some fabulous teas, although haven't yet decided which of the White Rabbit teapots to use. The King of Mice will be attending too, and I hope the rest of the cast of characters make an appearance as the day progresses; I'll be alternately blog hopping and painting a hand made wooden tea chest with an Alice in Wonderland theme, so stay tuned. ;)

Right now, it's the arms of Morpheus for me...I'll be up reasonably early eastern time, at which point I'll share more photos and join the party!

See you in a few hours!
♥ Carolee

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Lewis Carroll's Alice has long been one of my favorite literary characters. A child lost in a confusing, topsy-turvy and absolutely arbitrary world....She falls down a rabbit hole, she grows, she shrinks, she changes, she wonders if she's still the same girl, or a different girl entirely...All of a sudden, the world makes no sense!

Probably because, as the Cheshire Cat explains, "We're all mad here." ;)

Truer words were never, written - about the world Alice is trying to navigate; the world all children learn to navigate. A world of characters both beautiful and scary. Whose inner child can't relate to that?

Beyond simply relating, Wonderland is also an absolute WEALTH of artistic inspiration! The White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the hookah smoking Caterpillar, and perhaps most of all, the Mad Tea Party...

The photos shown here are from the Tim Burton film scheduled to open in March 2010 - Can you WAIT??! I'm not sure I can, teehee....Seriously, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter? Does it get any better?!

Yep - bated breath waiting for this one.....

In the meantime, there are a couple of other "Alice" fixes to be found. First, the film "Phoebe in Wonderland" available as of today on DVD (and at the toppermost of my netflix queue!) Check the trailer here and listen to what Patricia Clarkson says about the "awful normals". ;)

There's also the fabulous Vanessa Valencia's Mad Tea Party, coming up this very Saturday! I need to make something very special for this one - perhaps a tea chest or tea box (Oooooooh - an Alice Tea Box?!), maybe some cupcakes, maybe even a little giveaway - not sure yet, but stay tuned!

Right now, I'm off to finish a Christmas commission - which is providing some much needed mind-over-matter coolness in today's 80-something degree temps.

Back very soon with a couple of new pieces, at least one of them Alice inspired. Until then, tell me your own favorite Alice character if you have one!

♥ Carolee

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Midsummer Father's Day

Father's Day is always a bittersweet day for me, having lost my own Father at the age of nineteen. I don't have any photos of him from that time, but here's an early one....

I remember my Dad as a larger than life figure, in both stature and temperament...someone who lived life to the fullest (often to his own detriment), someone with a keen intellect, a fierce sense of loyalty, and an intense work ethic. Someone who encouraged me to follow my dreams, and to always strive for excellence.

As far as my Dad was concerned, there were three grades on a school report card; an "A", which was good, a "B", which was acceptable, and a "C,D, and F" which were all the same grade in his eyes, and equaled failure. Try as his three children might to explain to him that a C was "average", he countered with the opinion that average equaled failure. A pretty high bar to set, and one I'll admit I still have slightly obsessive issues with (I've been known even as an adult to re-take classes if I receive less than an "A") ;)

He loved us, he pushed us, and he left us far too soon, stubbornly refusing to slow down, or to change a reckless and self destructive lifestyle. I miss him.

Just three years after his death, John and I welcomed Courtney, who would have been his second grandchild. Sorry as I was she'd never know her grandfather, I watched this wonderful new relationship between Courtney and John develop, marveling at how naturally this former rock n roll musician took to Fatherhood....

He raised her with humor, probably one of the best gifts a parent can give a child. I have so many stories, so many photos, and later emails between the two of them, detailing this quirky closeness, these quick-witted examples of a loving, but decidedly unconventional upbringing....

(Relax - the bar is at her grandparent's house, the "bartender" is her grandfather, and she's drinking apple juice, lol)

Memories that still crack me up.....

When she was three and a half, and started singing the "F" word in the living room one day, sending me into shock (telling her it was a "bad word" of course), and prompting Courtney to become very upset, telling us it was a "new word" one of the neighborhood children had taught her - they had told her it meant "friend".

"Well, yes. Sometimes it does," said John..."but we still don't say it."

When she was four, and he had her completely convinced her stuffed Cat in the Hat doll was REAL. Seriously - he'd construct elaborate vignettes where she would find the Cat in the Hat eating chocolate cake in the bathtub, raiding the refrigerator, reaching into the fish tank, riding her tricycle, etc....We finally had to tell her the truth when, unable to find him one night, she panicked because she was sure he'd "wreck her room!" (I'm sure we'll end up paying for her therapy one day).

When she was five, and her kindergarten class was learning to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee", and John explained it was the WRONG SONG, proceeding to teach her the words to "God Save the Queen" instead, instructing her to sing it proudly as the rest of the class sang "the stolen version". Her kindergarten teacher was not amused.

And later, a series of email exchanges giving her humorous Fatherly advice on everything from her first serious break-up to advice on navigating British culture as she spent a semester at Oxford.

As I said, unconventional - as was, in retrospect, most of her upbringing, (we're not big on rules in this house)....

But I think if asked, she'd say as a Dad, John pretty much rocks. And see - she made it just fine. ;)

She has a housesitting gig for her aunt this weekend, so won't be seeing him, and they'll both be fine with it. Because this is a connection that transcends distance and circumstance. It's a bond they have unlike any other bond in her life, and God willing, her someday-children will grow up to know their grandfather too.

John and I will celebrate the day - Father's Day and the summer solstice - by having a little cookout in between the raindrops, opening a bottle of wine, and toasting a job well done.

Happy Father's Day, all. :)

♥ Carolee

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fun with Edward Gorey

One of the most delightful things about belonging to an art group (aside from the interaction with other artists) is the opportunity to participate in "challenges" - a theme on which the group decides, which becomes a sort of jumping off point, encouraging the artists to try something new; to expand our horizons....

This month, the EHAG group challenged it's members to create a piece in tribute to the wonderful, whimsically macabre writer and illustrator, Edward Gorey.

I don't remember when I first saw his work, but I do remember being completely enchanted by it, and purchasing several books in a short period of time. My absolute favorite is "The Gashleycrumb Tinies"....I mean, seriously, what's not to love about an alphabet book that includes "N is for Neville, who died of ennui."?

Here's my own little offering for the EHAG challenge - a candle box which I've painted and inked (the old fashioned way, with a crow-quill dipping pen) as a Goreyesque catnip box - a twist on my flying cat design, and one of those pieces I was sorely tempted to keep here as the perfect place for kitty toys.

Alas, it won't be staying here though, as I'm sure the kitties would rather Mommy bought cat food and paid vet bills, hehe....So look for it on eBay beginning tonight at 9PM. :)

That's about it for tonight - I'm off to watch a documentary on Frida Kahlo, and perhaps finish reading "Twilight".....

Wishing you all a magical weekend! I'll be back on Father's Day (which is also the solstice this year - how fun is that?!)

♥ Carolee

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Update :)

The large bench is now listed on eBay, on a three day auction with a "buy it now" option. I just discovered the "buy it now" option stays in effect until the reserve price ($300 on this one) is met. (UPDATE - SOLD) Here's a detail (you can click on it for a larger view)...

Back soon with another piece, this one in black and white, for the EHAG group's Edward Gorey inspired challenge....stay tuned. ;)

♥ Carolee

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spinning and Spinning and Spinning...

Life is such a whirlwind sometimes....but in a good way. :) Ideas and inspiration spinning around, faster than it could ever be possible to execute them all. Orders and commissions pending, and more coming in - almost daily, it seems. Ebay and Etsy. A big show for which to prepare. Emails, blogging, art groups, facebook....It's enough to make a body dizzy....

And that's just the King of Mice stuff. There's also home and family, the fur-children, friends...Never, as they say, a dull moment. A good thing, as I'm not really big on dull moments. ;)

So here's what's been keeping me busy these last few days - the bench is finally finished! I've already received an email about purchase, so I'm not sure if it will be listing on eBay or not, but stay tuned....Here's the front view....

Here's the back....

The side....

And the interior...

I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. :) (Oh, and excuse the older than old background - this house was built in 1892 and it's the original floor).

I've been busy around the house too...

Last evening, around twilight, I finally finished planting the herb garden and salsa garden. I can hardly wait! There's nothing like walking out the back door for supper ingredients, and it's quite a savings too.

And at the risk of boring you to tears with a weather report, I have to tell you that being only a few days before the summer solstice, it's been downright chilly here. 59 degrees at the moment, which is making me think prematurely of autumn....I mean, summer has barely started, and here I am thinking sweaters and pumpkins and hot apple cider, hehe....Of course, it's NEVER too early to be thinking of autumn. ;)

John's been a huge help as I try to juggle everything around here. He's in the kitchen as I write this, making spaghetti sauce and garlic bread - yummmm.

So, that's about it for today. I'll be back soon, with photos of a candle box, and some wonderful links to share. In the meantime, I'm going to slow down for just a couple of hours, pour myself a glass of sangria, enjoy a delicious supper, and catch up on some reading.

♥ Carolee

Monday, June 15, 2009

Journey People and Destination People

I read somewhere that there are two kinds of travelers; journey people and destination people.

Journey people don't have a schedule, are perfectly OK with detours, consider getting sidetracked an adventure, and love exploring new paths even if it means they reach their destination late, or not at all.

Destination people are focused on the goal. They want to get there as quickly and efficiently as possible, would never consider deviating from the planned route, and can probably tell you how many miles per hour they averaged on the way.

My daughter Courtney and I are both journey people. A few years back, when she was 14 and I was 36, we took a cross-country road trip together (Huntington Beach, California to eastern Pennsylvania). Being more of a destination person, John was worried about us, and I do admit taking the trip was against his wishes. But it was one of those things I'd always wanted to do, and knew if I didn't, I'd always regret it. We drove a VW Jetta, had no cell phone, and made the entire journey on about $500.

One of the fondest memories was late afternoon the first day out, in Arizona, when Courtney spotted a sign for a Winslow exit....

"We HAVE to stop!" she said excitedly, and I had to agree. The entire purpose of the stop was to call her Dad from a phone booth and tell him she was "standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona". Completely unplanned, didn't cost a thing but time and about three dollars in quarters, but a great memory.

This is the corner today. There was no statue at the time, which actually made it a lot cooler. ;)

Other detours included old route 66, shopping in Albuquerque, and exploring the craftsmanship of basket weavers in the Ozark mountains. Courtney navigated, I drove, we listened to Jackson Browne, the Indigo Girls and Tori Amos at full volume, saw some friends along the way, and generally had a great time.

I'm thinking about this journey vs. destination thing as regards the artistic process too....

Do you think the same principle applies?

I get asked pretty frequently "what are you working on now?", and I almost always answer with the name of the piece: "a sign" or "a tea box"..."a table"..."a chair". Which is often followed by "yes, but what are you painting on it?"

Which I'm sure sounds like a perfectly reasonable question to most people - You have a plan before you jump into something, right? You have it mapped out. You know where you're going and you know exactly how you'll get there.

To me (and I suspect other journey people) it's an impossibly frustrating question, and one for which I have no answer. How can I know for sure the direction a piece will take, until I'm finished, or at least very near the end of it?

Every once in a while (commissions for instance) I have a plan. But for the most part, painting is an adventure that evolves as it will, the little detours adding interest, and I'm pretty much just along to enjoy the ride. ;)

Here's one I have in progress sight now - a large storage bench (you can see it blank in the post below). Cloudy skies, a full moon, and a field of pumpkins for a little color. But beyond that, who knows?

I was thinking maybe a spooky graveyard scene, but then Merlin jumped up this morning and I was struck by his beautiful black coat against the sky, so now I'm thinking black cats somewhere. I'm also listening to gypsy music this morning, which may find it's way in there too...

Stay tuned...

And I'm curious.....are you a journey or a destination person?

♥ Carolee

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Eeeeesh! Has it really been four days since I've popped my head in here? It seems only a day or two, but I have to be honest - marking time is not something I do well, especially when life starts to get crazy. Which it definitely has this week....

Yep. Life has a way of waking us up sometimes - of showing us what's truly important just at the moment we really need it....

So there I was, just a few days ago, scrambling to meet deadlines, worrying about how I'd manage to meet all kinds of obligations, worrying about whether I'd make much needed sales, when the phone rang. It was John, calling from work, explaining how the brakes on the Beetle had gone out suddenly as he was exiting the Pennsylvania Turnpike that morning. Now, if anyone's ever experienced the turnpike at rush hour, you'll know just how scary this is. At least half the vehicles on the road are huge semi's. If he'd had to stop suddenly, for any reason at all, I'd have received a very different phone call that morning.

Long story short, when we had the car inspected the previous week, the mechanic neglected to tighten a couple of bolts, which came flying off suddenly, leaving John without brakes. An honest, but potentially deadly mistake, which to their credit they owned and immediately repaired.

Not so easily repaired is my sense of security, which maybe isn't such a bad thing...The whole episode was a reminder of just how fragile life is - and to never, ever take it for granted. (I'm showing you the car here only because John won't let me show him, hehe.)

And those deadlines I was so worried about? I met two of them (commissions) and missed one (a magazine submission). I'm still scrambling, but with a cooler, and much more appreciative head. ;)

I've also decided to work on a completely fun piece this week. Not that they're ALL not fun, but this one is extra fun because it's so large. It's actual furniture.

Soon to be HALLOWEEN furniture, hehe!

I'll be back soon with photos of this one in progress.

In the meantime, since we were on the subject of appreciation, I want to thank all of you who purchase my work and support my art. Without you, I wouldn't be able to live this artful life, wouldn't be able to spend my days creating....I soooooooo appreciate every single comment, every email, every bid, every purchase, and I'm incredibly honored you like my creations enough to give them a home.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ♥

~ Carolee

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Little Boxes...

I'm up to my ears in Halloween boxes and loving it!

The PFATT Marketplace's Jack-o-Lantern June is still a few hours away, but I wanted to share a quick preview....

A candle box with words of cat wisdom written around the edge....

Another black cat, this one a tiny trinket box.....

And a witch's fortune telling tea box, listed on eBay, and already sold....

There are several others in the works too, for commissions and the upcoming Ghoultide Gathering...In the meantime, I'm feeling the urge to paint something large, and I think I know just the piece; a hand made storage bench...

Stay tuned. :)

♥ Carolee
Wednesday morning update - all boxes are now sold. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Madness and a Recipe

Ah, who am I kidding? Every day is madness around here, hehe...(but in a good way!)

At the moment, I'm up to my ears in boxes - treat and treasure boxes, trinket boxes, tea boxes, candle boxes...

These are just a few of them. I'm not yet certain which will end up where....some for eBay, some for Etsy, some for the PFATT Marketplace and some for the Ghoultide Gathering show. I'm not even certain yet what direction most of them will take. As you can see, there's a bit of sketching, but for the most part they'll lead me where they will...

It's an absolute gorgeous, sunny morning here - the kind of morning that makes you feel like jumping right into it at 6AM, squeezing every single, productive second you can out of the day! Which is what I intend to do, but not before I've brewed up some tea and put some tunes on - something "up" sounding today - Santana, Jazon Mraz, maybe a little Corrine Bailey Rae...Isn't it funny how music can set the tone for the whole day?

Assuming I'm actually as productive as I hope to be, I'm also thinking I may throw together a batch of chai later on. LOVE it, especially iced. Do you want the recipe? It's dead easy, and soooooooooo yummy. And LOT cheaper than the kind you buy at the market. My niece Sarah gave me a canister of this for Christmas a couple of years ago, along with the recipe, and I've been hooked ever since! I use decaf tea....

Instant Chai Tea

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea (decaf or regular)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
a pinch or two of white pepper if you like it extra spicy

In a large bowl, combine milk powder, non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavored creamer, sugar and instant tea. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time, until mixture is the consistency of fine powder.

To serve: Stir 2 heaping tablespoons Chai tea mixture into a mug of hot water. For iced chai, stir the same measure into a small amount of hot water, then add cold water and ice.


Doesn't that sound yummy? If you try it, let me know what you think :)

That's about it for today....OH! Almost forgot - I just started reading "Twilight". Coming on the heels of the last book I read, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" (soooooo beautifully written, and by an alumni of the same college our daughter attended), "Twilight" is much simpler - but I knew this going in, so my expectations weren't that high. One friend told me to just keep an open mind, realize it was written for teens, and try to enjoy it for what it is. Good advice, and so far I'm enjoying it. When I'm finished, I'll check out the movie. I have a thing for never, ever seeing a movie until I've read the book. ;)

Okay, I've rambled on long enough - don't want to spoil my plans for a productive day!

Back again soon with photos of all these pieces completed...Until then, wishing everyone a happy and creatively mad Monday!

♥ Carolee

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wicked Jack and Other Doings...

Wicked Jack (along with Happy or Jolly Jack) is one of my favorite Halloween characters. I've painted him on tavern signs, and sculpted him as a Wicked Jack in the box, but this time around I thought he needed his own little verse.....

"Raise a glass, and praises sing
to Wicked Jack, the Pumpkin King!"

He's listed on eBay now, with a little surprise message inside the box. :)

Things are still crazy busy here - shipping a couple of commissions this week, trying to get the herb garden and a salsa garden planted, and we have dinner guests coming over Saturday, which means a bit of cooking and cleaning.

That's about it for today...a short, boring post, I know, but it's almost midnight here and if I'm not careful, I'LL turn into a pumpkin!

So I'll be back soon, but in the meantime I have to send you visiting - this post by the fabulous and imaginative Vanessa Valencia really touched me, and I thought it may touch some of you as well....

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Just a quick post tonight, to share the Poe inspired box I finished today....

The quote around the top of the box is from "The Raven" with the interior of the box finishing the line with "Nevermore!" *UPDATE* - SOLD.

SUCH fun, this one, and such a haunting poem. If you've never read it, do - or at least click here and listen to Vincent Price reciting it. Pure genius. :)

I'm calling it a night now, but I'll be back with a friend tomorrow. ;)

Until then, wishing you magical dreams!
♥ Carolee