Friday, December 30, 2011

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might...

...Have the wish I wish tonight. ♥

Outside, gazing up at the sky this New Year's Eve, Eve, I couldn't help but remember the childhood stargazing rhyme. But perhaps "wish" is too vague a word?

And "resolution" is so demanding and inflexible.

Maybe "intentions" are what need to make as we welcome the New Year - - and "reflections" as we look back on 2011.

There were challenges to be sure, both personal and professional, and there was uncertainty and insecurity in the face of a shaky economy and sometimes scary health issues.

But there were blessings too, and it's important to remember they far outweigh the challenges; a life shared with a loving family and dear friends old and new, a "job" I dearly love, five fabulous furkids and one fabulous real kid, the ability to connect with a community of artists and collectors right at my fingertips....And if you want to break it down to its most basic - four walls, a roof, warmth in the winter, and food in the pantry. So much for which to be thankful...more than most on this planet of ours.

Looking ahead to 2012, my vision is a year filled with art and experience, with travel and friendship. My intention for the year is improvement. To be a better wife, a better Mother, a better friend, a better artist and a better person. To let go of the negative, and embrace the positive.

I realize the difference between an intention and a resolution may seem like semantics, but to me, it's a mindset. An intention is about possibilities; it's the manifestation of our hopes and dreams. It looks forward.

And that's what New Years Eve is all about - looking forward.

So as we prepare to greet another New Year, I wish you appreciation for all the blessings life has to offer. I wish you a world of possibilities, and a year of new adventures. And I send much love from our home to yours. ♥

See you next year!

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Wintry Work in Progress

Just popping in to share a few in-progress pics on a wooden tea tray. It began with a good base coat of ivory acrylic paint, then a checkerboard border, blocking in the figures, and doing a bit of detail on the trees...

By this time, I was feeling the need for color, so began with some vibrant reds, then dressed the gnome, and gave the polar bear a face...

Finally, after lots more detail, and a bit of varnish, the finished piece...

If there's such a thing as a "zen" kind of piece, this was surely it. Such a blessing to paint, so relaxing, and took me back to childhood folk and fairy tales.

Look for it on Etsy very soon. :)

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Of Christmas and Dragons

It's been a bit of a whirlwind around here this year...

Oh, who am I kidding, the holidays are a whirlwind pretty much every year, right? But still magical, still joyous, still a delight.

The festivities began here with serious scarf knitting and cookie baking. You can take a peek at some of the cookies a couple of posts back, but I can't show you the knitting, as it hasn't been gifted yet. ;)

Christmas Eve found us visiting dear friends Jen and Kevin, where we girls indulged in gingerbread cookie martinis (photo courtesy Jen)...

I don't have a recipe, but basically one part vodka to a half part kahlua, a half part Baileys, some milk or melted ice cream and some gingerbread syrup. Unable to find said syrup, we improvised and used gingerbread coffee creamer instead. Oh - and if you want to get fancy, you can do crushed gingerbread cookies around the rim of the glass. Delicious, but not something you want to consume in mass quantities - a little rich, as we both discovered with tummy upset the next morning, lol.

Courtney arrived at the Lancaster train station Christmas Day morning, bearing cinnamon rolls from Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market - soooooo good (and saved me cooking breakfast, hehe). Next was the gift opening, and everyone really hit the mark this year - a new bass guitar for John, a working stereo for me (thanks, Courtney!) and a highly anticipated trip to my *happy place*, Barnes and Noble (couldn't you just go CRAZY in there?!)

We also presented Courtney with an in-person astrological reading by one of her favorite musical artists, singer/songwriter Francis Dunnery (of "Too Much Saturn and Not Enough Moon" fame).

In the Christmas Dinner department, it was great to have help in the kitchen this year, and Courtney completely nailed her first-ever Yorkshire pudding...

I forgot to take a photo of the roast, but it was your basic Dickensian feast - prime rib with all the trimmings, our annual nod to John's heritage. ;)

A friend of Courtney's drove up from DC to join us for dinner, and we had a wonderful time - great conversation, great food and great company. Doesn't get much better than that. Later, we settled in to watch one of my all time favorite Christmas movies "The Bell of St Mary's"...

An altogether wonderful Christmas - but the festivities aren't over yet! We're having a few friends over on New Year's Day too - no clue what we'll be making yet, probably a pot luck of sorts, and doubtful it will be anything traditional (to say we're not fans of pork or sauerkraut would be an understatement, hehe)...Maybe lasagna - that has to be good luck too, yes?

In the studio, I'm finishing a couple of winter pieces and very much looking forward to painting a Water Dragon - in honor of Chinese New Year!

And speaking of dragons, have you seen the trailer for next December's Hobbit movie? You don't actually see Smaug here, but one can imagine...

It's a year away and my head is already spinning with Middle Earth imagery and possibilities! I adore the shot of Gandalf smoking his pipe, of the Elves and Dwarves gathering and singing...First resolution of 2012: Must, must, MUST make time for Hobbit art! (More on Middle Earth and the Brothers Hildebrandt's inspiration in an upcoming post)....

Until then, it's back to work for me. As usual, too many irons in the fire and not enough time. It was glorious to have two days off, but now it's nose to the grindstone time. ;)

Wishing you all a very happy Third Day of Christmas, and will be back soon!

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blessings

I write this as the First Day of Christmas winds down and all seems right with the world. It's just John and I this evening, Courtney and her friend having left a couple of hours ago. Dinner dishes are washed and dried, candles extinguished, gifts put away, and we're just about to settle in to an evening of watching Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby in "The Bells of St Mary's".

Like many of you, I've been preparing for weeks; making and wrapping gifts, addressing cards, baking cookies, tidying the house, shipping parcels far and wide - all the time wishing I had a few elves (many hands make light work, and all that). For all the preparation, the day sure speeds by, doesn't it?

It was a wonderful Christmas here, filled with family, friends, and a fabulous feast (how's that for alliteration, hehe?!) I'll post a few photos tomorrow, but in the meantime I'm putting my feet up, grabbing my knitting, and enjoying a quiet cup of tea.

I am truly blessed.

Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with magic and joy!

Until next time,
~ Carolee

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Happy and Blessed Midwinter's Eve!

Can you feel a little magic in the air tonight?

Yes, I know - the astronomical Solstice is actually in the wee hours tomorrow morning...But that still makes this Midwinter's Eve, and whatever our faith tradition, the perfect time to slow down and take time to honor our connection to the earth, to our ancestors, and to each other.

Although my own tradition has been more... well, I guess conventional would be as good a word as any to describe it, in recent years I've grown to appreciate the ancient festivals which celebrate the earth and her seasons. And while I'm sure there are those whose traditions are solidly one or the other who would disagree, I find there is more in these celebrations and observances that brings Christians and Pagans together than there is which divides us.

So after a bit of a kitchen disaster this morning (long story, and I'm over it, hehe) I decided to spend the day immersed in things which honored the day. The first order of business was to spend a bit of time outdoors, gathering holly and ivy for the table. After shaking off a touch of unseasonably warm winter rain, I placed a large bunch of it in a pottery crock our daughter made when she was in high school...

Sometimes the simplest things are the most beautiful, don't you think?

Next, I began a new painting - a midwinter painting of an arctic wolf and snowshoe rabbit, set against a background of evergreen trees, with the northern lights in the distance. I'll hold off on showing a photo until the painting progresses a bit further, but I'm so pleased with the concept, with its progress, and with the notion that it's infused with a little solstice energy. (Patience, patience - pics soon, I promise!)

But the sweetest task of the day (literally and figuratively) was making my Grandma Cline's Star Cookies. The recipe is actually published on page 141 of the Gooseberry Patch "Old Fashioned Country Cookies" cookbook, having been contributed by my Mom many years ago. The story is in there too, which goes like this: When we were very little, my Grandfather had my siblings and me convinced that he went out each night and hung the moon up in the sky, and that my Grandmother made the stars. These cookies are a remembrance of that, and of her. They taste like my childhood, and I can't let the season pass without making them.
They're wonderful cookies to make with children too - bowls of different colored icing, and assorted sugars and sprinkles covering the dining room table. They were a part of my childhood, my daughter's childhood, and I hope someday her children's as well.

As always, candles burned and music played as these tasks were accomplished, punctuated by phone calls from dear friends who always make me smile. Altogether a perfect Midwinter's Day - or Midwinter's Eve Day.

As I write this, there's only an hour or so to go until astronomical Midwinter, and I have much to accomplish tomorrow (including that painting)...So I'll say goodnight, but not before sharing a favorite tune to mark the day. Give it a listen, I think you'll like it...

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed Midwinter's Eve!
♥ Carolee

Monday, December 19, 2011

La Befana Revisited

Popping in quickly between batches of cookies, to share the latest piece - another homage to La Befana...

She's just so fun to paint, and I so love the legend, I had to revisit her. This one (a very close companion to the recently painted plate) is on a birch wood box, and I think would be perfect for either treats or treasures. The Christmas star shines inside too...

She's listed on Etsy now, up for grabs on a first-come basis.

Thanks for taking a peek, and I promise I'll be back soon with pics of new work - and possibly cookies too!

♥ Carolee

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Bless All Creatures, Great and Small"

Just popping in to share the latest winter piece, one of two with a similar theme...

It was such a blessing to paint this one. It actually sold before completion, and will be on it's way to a new home tomorrow.

The second piece, now in progress, features an arctic wolf and snowshoe rabbit. I hope to share pics by mid week.

In the meantime, there's another La Befana piece on the work table, scads of Christmas cookies to bake, and our own creatures to tend to. ;)

Wishing you a joyous season!

Back very soon...
♥ Carolee

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion...

Popping in quickly to let you know there's still time to pick up personalized last minute holiday gifts in my Etsy shop. There are nine different welcome sign designs, each a hand painted original on solid pine, and with orders placed today and tomorrow, I can ship priority mail by Friday.

A personalized gift, signed by the artist, for under $30.

OK, end of shameless self promotion. ;-)

Back with a more newsy post very soon...

♥ Carolee

Monday, December 12, 2011

♪♫ Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree... ♪♫

A symbol of both Christmas and Yule, Christian and Pagan tradition, of what we hold dear throughout the year...a place to display treasured holiday memories - and like a snowflake, no two are exactly alike! Each year, the tree trimming tradition unfolds just a little differently, ornaments hung and garland strung in a new way; familiar, yet unique to that particular year...

Yesterday found us trimming our own tree. Lights...


And finally, beaded garland...

Unwrapping and hanging the ornaments always brings back memories, and at the same time feels a bit like a new discovery. The "Cup of Christmas Tea" ornament, a gift from my Mother one year, with the book of the same name...

The woodland gnomes (elves?) and the tiny wood burned stag ornament, a gift from an artist friend...

The mercury glass moons, found a few years back at Strawberry and Co, a favorite downtown Lancaster shop...

The sparkling bird's nest with gilded walnut "eggs", purchased at Sheldons, a gallery where I once worked weekends...

Courtney's kindergarten milk-carton ornament...

And my own very first ornament, purchased by my parents sometime in the early 1960s...

Yes, I know, the tree is artificial - something in younger days we swore we'd never do. And it's a bit smaller than in years past, more easily manageable. As we age, we find there's a lot to be said for convenience. ;)

But large or small, real or artificial, there's that moment when it's finished, when the boxes are put away, the cocoa is made, living room lights are turned off, Christmas carols are playing, and we just sit back and enjoy...Such a priceless moment...

How about you? Do you decorate a tree? Does it hold special meaning, invoke memories of Yuletides past? Or perhaps your tradition is Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, or Ramadan, which have their own treasured symbols and memories? Please do leave a comment and share...

And finally, Happy Holidays from our house to yours! I say Happy Holidays, knowing full well it rattles those who feel "Merry Christmas" has been lost. But I like "Happy Holidays" just fine - it says whatever holiday you observe, whatever beliefs and traditions you hold dear, I wish you a blessed and merry time of it!

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Friday, December 9, 2011

La Befana

Legend has it that very long ago, the Three Wise Men, in search of the Christ child, lost their way. They came upon La Befana's house, and stopped to ask directions, inviting her to join them in their search. She invited them to stay, but declined to accompany them, being too busy with her housework.

The next day, after they departed, she had a change of heart, so she set out to look for the Wise Men and the Child. And to this day she wanders the earth, still searching, broom in hand, leaving presents and candy for all good children on the eve of Epiphany.

I love this old Italian tale (such vivid imagery) and of course, had to paint La Befana...

She's depicted here on a large wooden plate (14" in diameter), with a traditional Italian verse hand lettered around the edge...

La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!

The English translation is

The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!

Look for her in my Etsy shop later tonight! (There are also quite a few welcome signs in the shop too - great last minute, personalized gifts for hard-to-buy-for friends and family!)

Next up - arctic animals: "Bless All Creatures Great and Small"

Back very soon!

♥ Carolee

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Waiting For Santa and La Befana

As we anticipate the arrival of our favorite seasonal characters, my head is spinning with inspiration...There's Santa of course, and all his variations (my favorite is Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost). There's La Befana (more on her in a minute), and of course, there are more-legged characters as well - The selfless cat from The Cat Carol, Charles Dickens' Cricket on the Hearth...and who could forget all those reindeer?

One of the first seasonal offerings this year is a Christmas Mouse, and I thought it would be fun to share a bit of his progress. It begins with a simple pencil sketch on canvas...

Next, colors are blocked in, and a bit of detail added. You'll notice the mouse in the painting is considerably larger than the one in the sketch - an adjustment made during the painting process, to keep the mouse more in proportion to the mouse-hole.

Finally, the finished piece. I had such fun with the tiny details like the stocking and mistletoe hung with pins, and the swiss cheese gift wrap. ;)

I've titled this one "Waiting for Santa", and the little guy will be up for grabs on the PFATT Marketplace, this Saturday morning at 10AM Pacific time (1PM EST).

The next piece on the studio table is another favorite of mine, La Befana, whose image will grace this large wooden plate. Right now, there's just this vibrant background...

The next step will be to hand letter a traditional Italian verse around the outer edge of the piece:

La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!

The English translation is:

The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!

Lettering accomplished (hopefully later today), La Befana will make her appearance.

This one will probably list on Etsy sometime in the next day or two. :)

So many other creatures and characters are whirling around in my brain, wanting desperately to escape to canvas or wood panel, box or bowl. (All I need is another couple of months before Christmas and Yule - is that too much to ask?)...

How about you? Do you have a favorite creature or character this time of year? A favorite childhood story or legend? Please share a comment - I soooo love hearing about how these stories shape our holidays and celebrations!

Looking forward to hearing from you, and in the meantime, I'm off to accomplish a few mundane household chores so I can get to that lettering before noon.

Wishing you all the blessings of the season, and time to enjoy them!

♥ Carolee

Monday, December 5, 2011

When a Door Closes....

Somewhere, a window opens. ♥

I'm hanging on to that thought as I gaze at scores of hand painted "welcome" and "winter welcome" signs adorning our living room floor at the moment.

Operating under the assumption that these two recent craft shows would be every bit as crowded as they've been in years past, I went a little overboard stocking up on inventory...

OK, I went a LOT overboard, hehe.

The upshot is that there's still a large inventory left. I'll probably hold some back for next year, but in the meantime, two of every design is listed in my Etsy shop, at the discounted price of $29.95, which includes personalization.

John's comment this weekend (as we were discussing rising oil and heating costs) was, as he gazed wistfully at all these pine signs, was "Too bad the woodstove in the dining room isn't working." Haha....It helps to have a sense of humor about these things. :)

Now, of course, I'm scrambling to create a few holiday pieces in time for shipping and gift-giving! This canvas is one I've had in my head for a long time now, and can't wait to finish...

It's so much fun to paint things from a different perspective. :)

Look for a new La Befana piece as well, and one with arctic animals, titled "Bless All Creatures Great and Small".

In the meantime, there's a tree to decorate, gifts to be completed and baking to be done...Every year I say "next year I'll start earlier!", and of course, it never happens.

Wishing you a merry time of it whatever you're planning and whatever you're creating!

I'll be back very soon
♥ Carolee

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

♪ ♫ It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas ♪ ♫

Noooooo, the tree isn't up yet...

At the moment the living room is filled with boxes of welcome signs, which need to either sell, or go live upstairs until next year, hehe. That accomplished (hopefully this weekend), we'll tackle the tree. ;)

But elsewhere in the house, there are little signs that Yuletide approaches...

I've been making these wonderful pomanders, which may turn up as gifts - unless I decide to do as my Grandmother, and tuck them away in drawers, and linen closets...

They're so easy! All you need is an orange, a jar of whole cloves, and some kind of piercing tool, like a skewer or icepick. Poke a few holes, insert a few cloves, and so on, until the orange is covered. The scent is amazing. You can add ribbon and hang them too, like an old fashioned kissing ball. ♥

The china cabinet is filled with Christmas teapots from my little collection. The bunnies are among my favorites...

And of course, The Nutcracker...

I can't remember where we picked up this sparkly old Santa, but he fits right in...

That's Susan Branch's "Christmas From the Heart of the Home" in the background - a must have if you love Christmas cookbooks. :)

In the kitchen, scented candles sit on top of the pantry, next to the old rooster cookie jar. Bayberry and spicy orange are burning today...

And old fashioned ribbon candy sits in a dish atop the woodstove. Soooooo tempting, but I'm trying to be good. ;)

Very soon, we'll trim the tree and hang the stockings on the woodstove mantle.

And I must remember to take a few pics outside, where the old watering can is filled with greenery, and a bright red wreath adorns the front door...

At the moment, there's packaging and shipping to be done! Those welcome signs offered a couple of posts back are flying out the door later this evening. It makes me so happy to think my work is even a small part of someone's celebration. Truly special. :)

I'll be back very soon to share some works in progress, and in the meantime, I hope this finds you decking your own halls, and enjoying every bit of *magic* the season has to offer!

Much love,
♥ Carolee

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Belated and Truly Thankful Thanksgiving

As facebook friends have read by now, the Mice President (hubby John) has been in the hospital this past week battling his old nemesis, heart failure. Not the way we'd planned to spend Thanksgiving, but sometimes the universe has other plans. ;)

Thursday was spent visiting him as he enjoyed a delicious (not), nutritious Turkey dinner courtesy of Reading Hospital and Medical Center. Later, I curled up at home with the furkids, an old movie and a lean cuisine, reminding myself that he was exactly where he was supposed to be at that moment; that he was well cared for, and breathing more comfortably than he had in days. Not the day we'd planned, but gratitude inspiring nonetheless.

The visiting routine continued for the next few days, and he was released Sunday morning. Daughter Courtney came out to join us for a belated, low sodium feast, which we prepared as he caught up on all the sleep he missed in the hospital. Turkey breast, mashed potatoes, apple walnut stuffing, cranberry-orange-ginger sauce, roasted veggies, and for dessert, baked apples with vanilla ice cream and bourbon-pecan-praline sauce (from Susan Branch's Autumn book, and my favorite part of the meal, hehe). ♥

The entire episode served as a reminder that no matter what our circumstances, no matter what our challenges, we still have much for which to be thankful.

I hope your Thanksgiving was spent with those you love, and that gratitude was plentiful.

Wishing you all the blessings of the season,
♥ Carolee

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hand Made Holiday Ideas - and a Kahlua Recipe

2011 being our fifth year of a largely hand made Christmas, I'm building quite a store of easy-peasy, make-at-home (or in some cases on the go) gifts for friends and family.

Here's the first one completed this year, a winter scarf (which still needs blocking, thus the slight wonkiness, hehe) knitted from Caron Dazzleaire...

Other projects this year include some small counted cross-stitch pieces, boxes of springerle cookies (check out my favorite stag mold below), and of course home made Kahlua (which I'll get to in a minute!)

Have someone on your list who's short on time to cook? Soup mixes are a great idea - layer beans and spices in an attractive jar, tie a ribbon around it with a recipe, and instant (well, OK almost instant, it does have to cook) dinner. This works well with cookie mixes too. :)

Another idea is scented trivets. Instructions are easy to find online, but it basically involves sewing together two pieces of cotton fabric in such a way as to create strips, or pockets, filling with a mixture of rice and spices, then sewing up the last edge. These smell soooooo good when you place a hot dish or teapot on top.

Remember old fashioned pomanders? They make wonderful gifts - oranges and apples studded with cloves. My grandmother always had a couple tucked away in her linen closet.

How about coupons - for babysitting, for car washing, for house cleaning? When my daughter was little, an evening out with hubby was soooooo appreciated, as was any help I could get with the house.

One year my husband - a musician - composed a song for me and recorded it. It was a beautiful acoustic guitar piece, which I still treasure.

Sooooo many ideas....

Including, as promised, this one. My homemade kahlua recipe. Delicious, and fun to collect the bottles and make homemade labels too. I use old vinegar bottles (thoroughly washed of course), old maple syrup bottles, old screw-top wine or liquor bottles, etc. Here's the recipe (can be doubled or tripled):

3 c. sugar
3 c. water
3 Tbsp. instant coffee (not freeze dried)
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 quart vodka

Simmer water, sugar and coffee for 1 hour, being careful not to let it boil. Cool, then add the rest. Pour into bottles, dividing the vanilla bean as best you can. Keeps for several weeks.


Do you have favorite handmade gifts? Please share...

And with the time we're not spending at the mall, let's make time to enjoy the season; mix up some old fashioned cocoa, pop some popcorn, watch an old movie...make snow angels if you're blessed with snow, make cookies with your kids, cuddle your furkids (or if you have room, adopt another), sing carols, host a holiday potluck, visit friends and loved ones, and tell them how much they're loved and appreciated.

Wishing you all the blessings of this most *magical* season!

♥ Carolee

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Of Shows, Shopping - and a Holiday Bargain. ;)

I believe it was Thomas Wolfe who said "You can't go home again"...

A quote I came to consider and appreciate this past weekend, after schlepping 160 welcome signs (two trips in the little Beetle) down to Fairfax, VA, for the annual - and usually well attended - Holiday Craft Show.

It had been a long while since I done an old fashioned craft show, but I remember them as being somewhat of a shopping frenzy. Husbands were generally left home, as groups of women spent the day holiday shopping with friends - and doing some serious buying. It was the ideal way to pick up unusual, hand made gifts and decor - items made with love and care rather than mass produced in China. Eight or ten years ago, if you wanted something hand crafted by the artist, you attended a show.

But the internet has changed all that. Hand crafted items can easily be purchased online now, and with so many folk art marketplaces, worldwide selling sites like Etsy and eBay, and the explosion of blogging and social media sites like facebook, there's no need to venture far from home in search of hand made treasures.

I'm not complaining, mind you - to the contrary, I make my living on the internet, and not a day goes by I don't bless the fact that this is so. ;)

But as such, you'd think I'd see the trend. Not that craft shows aren't fun - but I should have allowed for somewhat of a decline in attendance, and perhaps taken a bit less product. Live and learn, eh? ;)

The upshot of all this is that I have quite a few original, hand painted welcome signs left. If you click on the photo above, you'll see the designs available - I believe there are several of each, with the exception of the snowman with the bright red buttons. I think there are just a few of these left, with "Winter Welcome" painted at the top. Oh, and it's a bit tricky to see in the photo, but the banner held by the woodland snowman (snow-lady?) says "Joy" in gold. :)

Most of the designs are seasonal, but can be left up throughout the winter, and a couple of them - the teapot birdhouse (my own favorite) and other birdhouse - are year-round designs. All of them are protected with an exterior varnish, so are fine for hanging outdoors. Oh, and if you scroll down to the previous blog post, you'll see a close-up of several.

As you can see in the photo, the price at the Fairfax show was $35 (considerably less than the usual eBay price, even a couple of years ago). But since they need to find homes for the holidays (and there are no fees involved here on blog, hehe) I'm letting them go for $29.95.

Multiple purchases are fine, and I can combine shipping on two signs in the same box ($8 for east coast, $11 for midwest and south, and $14 for the western states.)

These are available on a first come basis, and when they're gone, they're gone. I won't be accepting any orders.

To purchase one - or several for holiday gift giving - just shoot me an email at with "Signs" in the subject line. Let me know which you'd like, and how you'd like the personalization to read, and I'll get back to you confirming availability, get them lettered this week, and shipped next week (after Thanksgiving). ♥

In the meantime, I'm off to double check the inventory, so I can keep track of what's still up for grabs, hehe...

Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays!
♥ Carolee

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Fairfax Preview

It's deja vu all over again, as I return to my crafty roots and spend next weekend personalizing welcome signs at the Holiday Craft Show in Fairfax, VA...

I look forward to meeting old friends and new (always the best part of any show), but for those who live too far, or can't make, it, I'm offering just a few of these personalized signs (only 2 of each design available) at the craft show price of $35 + shipping, this weekend only.

Designs include grapevine wreaths on a sage green or ivory background...

Mailbox signs in forest green or cranberry (fun, because you can also add first names)...

And two different snowmen...

The lettering shown here is just a sample of what the finished piece might look like, so if you'd like to claim one of more of these, shoot me an email at with your location, and what you'd like the sign to say. :)

It's very late here, and we have a busy day tomorrow, so I'm calling it a night now. But I'll be back first thing in the morning to respond to emails and such.

Thanks for taking a peek!
Back very soon....

♥ Carolee
11:20 AM Sunday, ETA: The signs are now on their way to Virginia, but can still be purchased and personalized, with shipping sometime the week prior to Thanksgiving. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Harvest Santa

Every once in a while, an event comes along so strange and magical, it just cries out to be commemorated in some way...

Such was the pre-Halloween snowfall of 2011. An accumulation of four inches left us here on the east coast wondering was this Halloween or Christmas?

Like Santa here, I suppose it was a little of both...

As always, he's an original, one of a kind piece, handpainted in acrylics with a clear acrylic varnish. I had such fun painting all the little details; his rabbit and mouse friends, the garland of acorns around the base, the crow on the back...

He'll be up for grabs on the PFATT Marketplace in just a few hours (Nov 11th, 10AM Pacific or 1PM eastern) and as always, will go to the first person to email after the update.

I'm hoping to have more Santas to follow (different themes) so if you're a fan of the Jolly Old Elf, stay tuned...

Back very soon!
♥ Carolee

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A New Practical Magic Piece and a Crafty Return

This is the time of year when inspiration comes at such a fast and furious pace, it's difficult to keep up with it all! Ideas are spinning and swirling around in my brain like a holiday cyclone, and I'm trying to capture as many of them as possible.

Before we get into upcoming holiday goodies, here's a peek at a very special project which has occupied much of my time lately. A wonderful, long time collector commissioned this child's chair, with a Practical Magic theme...

As is often the case with commissions, it took longer than anticipated, but I'm really happy with the result; the roses and toads on the base, the magickal accoutrements on the seat, and the witches jumping off the of that gorgeous clifftop house above. Here's a little detail...

On the back of the chair, it says "There's a little witch in every woman."

Fun, yes?! I swear, I have the best *job* in the world. ♥

With this one winging its way to the west coast this week, the focus shifts to holiday work - specifically a Harvest Santa, which I hope to offer on a first-come basis on this month's PFATT Marketplace (we'll see if I can get it finished under the wire!)...And of course, the Harvest Santa made me think of a Vineyard Santa too, so that may be coming soon as well...and a seaside Santa, and a...and a...

See what I mean? A cyclone, I tell you. ;)

And in the midst of all this creativity, I'm very briefly back to painting a few (ahem) crafty welcome signs. It's been years since I've painted these in quantity, and I much prefer to work on one piece at a time. But in this economy we do what we must, so John and I will be bringing about 150 of these (varying designs) to the annual Holiday Craft Show at the Fairfax High School, in Fairfax, Virginia on the weekend of November 19th and 20th. I'll be there all day, personalizing signs as people shop. So if you're in the area, do drop by and say hello!

Until then, our little house looks a bit like Santa's workshoop, hehe...

First snowmen, then mailbox/chickadee signs completed, so now it's onto Santa in the Moon...

There's also much to be done on the home front, including Thanksgiving shopping, and getting the house decorated for the holidays. Fortunately, the china cabinet is already decorated. Yep, I'm a little embarrassed to say all the Christmas teapots, plates, books and greenery have been sitting there since last Christmas. Oh well - at least the tree hasn't been up this whole time, hehe.

So stay tuned for lots of goodies coming up, and in the meantime, let's all remember to take the occasional breath to savor the season; a good winter read and cup of tea, snuggling on the sofa to watch an old holiday movie, Yuletide gatherings with friends and family, listening to beautiful music, and shopping locally, and handmade.

Until next time, wishing you all the blessings and *magic* of the upcoming season,

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Tunes

Just popping in to share that the playlist here (scroll down on the right to the purple box) has been updated with some Winter/Yule/Christmas tunes. I'm listening this morning as I put the finishing touches on a couple of commissions. Won't you join me?

♥ Carolee

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Nesting

Despite the small pang of regret I always feel as we bid goodbye to October - and very soon to autumn - there's something very cozy and welcoming about preparing the home and heart for winter. November is a month for nesting, for settling in. The last of the autumn leaves will be raked, the pond plants cut back and put to bed, the outside water connection shut off, and the kitchen countertops rearranged to accommodate the crockpot. Lap duvets, afghans, and my favorite readers wrap are draped over the living room furniture, knitting and embroidery projects sit on the floor by my favorite chair, along side a large stack of books, and the tea cupboard and candle boxes are well stocked.

Art supplies will be purchased in larger quantities this time of year too, as weather can prevent a quick run to the store. The last wood order, and last clock order of the year will be placed, and picked up at the Amish woodworker's shop before the snow flies (OK, most years before the snow flies - I'm considering last week's October snowstorm an aberration).

In the studio, while Halloween and things *magical* are a constant, Christmas and Yule pieces will be added to the schedule, and a few personal projects will begin. Homemade, handmade gifts are perhaps the best part of this November nesting; painting, stitching and cooking mindfully for someone special. ♥

We're very big on handmade around here, on gifts that come from the heart. And while Halloween is a favorite holiday for all it's magic and enchantment, Thanksgiving and Christmas are at least equal favorites for the deep meaning they carry, and the time spent with family - more precious than ever after the health challenges John has faced in recent years.

So the season of nesting begins, and also brings new inspiration for 2012 (more on this next month!). In the meantime, may November help us all to slow down a bit and find enjoyment in the little seasonal tasks that make a house a home.

Until next time, much love,
♥ Carolee

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the "Flight" print (offered a few posts back for the Halloween Blog Party) is Maddyrose. Thanks to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for another giveaway very soon!

♥ Carolee

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Playing Through The Veil"

Legend (or modern invention) has it that there exists an obscure musical genre known as "funerary violin", active in Europe in the 19th century, and eventually extinguished by the Church.

Funerary violinists would compose haunting music, and play not only at the burial, but would remain at the deceased's gravesite through the night, playing their souls into the afterlife...

Legend or not (you can read more about it here), I found the concept so beautiful, and so compelling, it had to become art. And what better day than October 31st - when the veil between worlds is thinnest - to complete such a piece? ;)

The etching shown above - this month's EHAG Emporium offering - is a scratchboard; a black, inked board, etched with literally tens of thousands of lines. Some artists use a pin or etching tool - I prefer the finer line of an exacto blade.

The piece measures 5" x 7", and is priced at $125, with shipping in the U.S. included. It is unframed, but would look amazing "floating" on a white ground, with a gothic, black frame. UPDATE ~ SOLD ~

Thanks for taking a peek, and please email me at with questions or to purchase. ♥

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Until Halloween....

I'm offering FREE shipping on all U.S. Etsy orders (up to a $40 value) from now through the 31st. If you make a paypal purchase, I'll refund the shipping in full. If you prefer check or money order, just deduct the shipping cost from the Etsy total.

Happy Halloween!
♥ Carolee

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Ode to Collectors - Thank You for Buying Handmade!

As the holidays approach, and the creative season gets busier and busier, it's important for artists to take a breath, and pause long enough to express our gratitude to those of you who enable us to Do What We Do.

So this post is for collectors.

Every time you make a purchase from an individual artist or crafter, you're buying something infused with love and care. You're choosing a one of a kind treasure made from the heart, something mindfully created, something personal and meaningful. You're helping an artist live their dream, and you're helping to support an individual rather than a large corporation.

You're celebrating creativity, and you're supporting an economic model that rewards imagination, initiative, hard work, and self reliance. And you're making a direct connection with an individual, the way purchases and transactions used to be made. You're enabling someone's vision to become a reality, and that's priceless.

So THANK YOU to all the collectors, and art supporters. And THANK YOU to all of you who are buying handmade this holiday season. As an artist, I appreciate it more than words can say. It warms my heart, and I am truly blessed to know each and every one of you.

Much love,
♥ Carolee

Monday, October 24, 2011

Living in Season, but Painting Ahead...

I find there's something very close to sacred when we live "in season", making a mindful effort to remain in sync with Mother Nature, tuning not only our minds, but our bodies to the wheel of the year...

Once upon a time (before the age of the thermostat and the supermarket) our food and our activities reflected the changing seasons. Gardening in the summer, harvesting and preserving in autumn, resting in winter, and planting again in spring.

Summers were spent cooking outdoors, sipping lemonade on the front porch, running through lawn sprinklers, or swimming at the beach, or a nearby lake or creek. Winters were spent sledding, building snowmen, cooking hearty meals, telling stories, reading good books and snuggling in front of the wood stove or fireplace.

I count myself fortunate to live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where the seasons are still very much a part of the culture, and try very hard to embrace each season for the blessings it has to offer. Today, for instance, will find me roasting batch of butternut squash (for soup later in the week) and planting yet another pot of mums in the front yard....

But it will also find me painting (gasp!) a Christmas piece, along with a couple of autumn commissions. ;)

Since people decorate their homes well before the actual arrival of the holiday or season, it means holiday artists must stay a step ahead. Winter pieces in autumn, spring pieces in winter, and so on. I suppose it would be easy to be thrown off-kilter by this, but I try to see it as a preview - a little inspiration and anticipation of what's to come.

To that end, I've just listed the first holiday box of the year on Etsy - Peppermint Polly, a little angel mouse...

A little early perhaps, but I'm hoping others will be anticipating the season right along with me, and she'll find a good home.

In the meantime, I'm off to work on the last of the Halloween commissions, as I wish you a happy and mindful autumn! May you enjoy all her blessings. :)

♥ Carolee