Monday, December 31, 2012

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

 I believe it's some sort of law of nature that as we age, the passage of time speeds up exponentially.

As a child, the time between Christmases (or birthdays or any other special day) seemed like a lifetime. Now, at 53, I sometimes feel as though I'm careening downhill in a cart with no brakes, no ability to slow down these moments, these days, these experiences. They fly by at such speed I wish I had more time to savor them. And I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to do just that.

And now, just when I've finally become accustomed to writing "2012" on checks and documents, here it is 2013!

I've seen and heard many comments this year from people who say they cannot wait to put this year behind them. That the new year must be better. I suppose that's human nature. To see something magical and transformative as the clock passes from one year into the next.

But in looking back at 2012 - in reflecting on both the challenges and blessings - there is much I want to keep, and to hold tight. Discoveries made, lessons learned, friendships formed...

First and foremost, to me, 2012 will always be the year I got my husband back. John's retirement (necessitated by several physical disabilities) has been a blessing to both of us, and he has (knocking on the wood of my computer desk as I type this) miraculously spent an entire year OUT of the hospital. Those of you who've been reading here for a while know how huge this is. Friends who haven't seen him in a while comment about how much improved he looks, and he says he feels much better too.

2012 is also the year I decided to get serious about getting healthy. While it's a long road, with an even longer stretch ahead, I know I'm on the right path - and if I stay on track, I will eventually reach my goal.

Creatively, 2012 has been a marvel! Notebook upon notebook filled with more ideas than I could paint in a lifetime, and it's been such a joy to see a few of them manifest. I can only hope 2013 brings such creative energy and inspiration!

And finally, but by no means least, friendship. 2012 saw me taking a several weeks tour of the southeast with someone who has become one of my dearest friends. And while our planned cross-country journey didn't materialize, I consider myself so lucky to have had this experience, this break, and will treasure the memory of it all my life.

2012 also found me reconnecting with old friends on facebook (so much fun to be in touch with people you haven't seen for ages!), and spending many hours enjoying the company of friends in the "real world". Good friends, good food, good wine, good music - it doesn't get much better, and if you resolve to do just ONE thing this year, making time to connect with dear friends is a good place to start.

And in a few short hours we'll turn the calendar, and 2013 will dawn bright and promising and filled with creative possibility!

I know there will be challenges, but my one and only resolution will be to weather them gracefully, while always keeping my focus on the blessings.

May your 2013 year be filled with love and  light, magic and joy!

See you next year!

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmastide at Chez Clark

2012 has been a Christmas to remember, filled with the comforts of home, with friends and family and furkids, and most of all, much love.

In the wake of heartbreaking events in Connecticut, and again on Christmas Eve in Upstate New York, I've felt the need to immerse myself in home and family, reflecting on how very much they mean to me, how blessed I am, and how precious these people and these moments spent with them truly are. Sometimes I take that for granted. Sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle.

So I thought I'd take a few minutes to share a little glimpse of these people I love with you, and of our Christmas, beginning with daughter Courtney...

 A beautiful child, who is no longer a child. Thoughtful and kind and bright, and I can honestly say a pure joy to raise.

And the Mice President himself, husband John, shown here beside me in a rare photo (I'm positively phobic about cameras, but gave in just this once at Courtney's request)...

 We've been together for well over 30 years and faced plenty of challenges together, and I can't imagine anyone I'd rather build a life with. He's been supportive of every crazy idea I've ever had, and always, always keeps me laughing.

And that's a lot. ;)

Soooo, back to Christmas....I used the word "Christmastide" above, because I'm committed to the old fashioned notion that the celebration is not just one day, but twelve. Today is Boxing Day, or St. Stephens Day - the second Day of Christmas, and our halls will remain decked until Epiphany on the sixth of January. On January fifth ("Twelfth Night") we're hosting another little holiday gathering here. :)

Our Christmas Day celebration was, as always, pretty traditional. John is English, and loves the whole Dickensian feast thing, so we always do prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, all the trimmings, and of course, Christmas pudding (a.k.a. plum pudding) for dessert. This photo was taken just after the sprig of holly was removed and the flames doused...

It's served swimming in custard sauce - soooooo good. :)

Dear friends joined us for the feast and we had a wonderful time.

And presents! At the risk of being one of those annoying, bragging parents, I have to share a favorite, made by Courtney. This beautiful teal scarf...

You Tube secretly taught her to knit (succeeding where I admittedly and repeatedly failed, lol)...I had no idea! Can't wait to wear it outside, it looks so warm. She also made me an ornament - decoupaged with pretty, artsy paper...

I need to try this.

Anyway, for a former art student turned businesswoman, it's very cool for me to see her creating, and I like to flatter myself that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. ;)

In addition to these handmade treasures, I was thoroughly spoiled with lots of other goodies, including a replacement for my favorite, long ago broken Kliban coffee mug (Thanks, Ann!)...Anyone remember this little ditty?

Hehe. ;)

And thanks to several family members who heard about our poor, broken, on-its-last-legs stove, we're off to home Depot tomorrow, gift cards in hand to buy a new electric range (yay!)...

The prospect of an accurate and reliable oven, and four working burners - oh joy, oh bliss!

But the best gift of all was spending time with these people I love, the ones who bring joy and warmth and comfort not only to the holidays, but to every day.

We may not have much in the way of material possessions, but we are rich beyond belief when it comes to the things that truly matter, and I consider myself incredibly blessed.

Until next time, wishing you a season of love and light and peace,
♥ Carolee

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Visit to Chestnut Hill

I so love the rural beauty of Lancaster County this time of year, flurries flying, the scent of woodsmoke in the air, horses and buggies on the road, their passengers bundled up in scarves and blankets, the tradition of  a single candle in each window as a welcome to travelers...It's truly a breathtaking place in winter, a hearkening back to another age.

But there's also much to be said for, as the song says, "Christmastime in the city". With that in mind, John and I took a rare day off yesterday for a ramble around Chestnut Hill, one of Philadelphia's oldest - and most beautiful - neighborhoods. Stately homes and more than a few mansions can be seen on the drive into the city, and once downtown, the buildings look this this...

 Just charming,with all the shop windows dressed in greenery and ribbons. After dark, tiny white lights are everywhere, and on Wednesday evenings, carolers stroll the sidewalks. Some of the shopkeepers really go all out with window displays, like this one at Roberstons Flowers...

We also visited Penzy's Spices, and oh my!! I can see why daughter Courtney loves this place. We were delighted to discover more than a few salt-free spice blends and rubs there, which John should have a lot fun with, as he further explores his recent interest in cooking. For my part, it took every ounce of willpower I could muster to stay away from the hot cocoa mixes. ;)

Strolling across the street and down a bit, we found this little shop, The Bone Appetite...

Shhh, don't tell Cosmo and Cadie, but I think Santa Dog is bringing them some very special, iced polar bear treats, hehe. :)

But by far, my favorite stop was this one, The Tangled Web...

Colorful, yarny goodness!

Do you think five days until Christmas is enough time to knit up another gift?

Of course it is! Needles will be flying around here every evening. ;)

All of this walking and shopping (admittedly most of it window shopping, hehe) was broken up by a visit to the Iron Hill Brewery for lunch, which was just delightful. I was bad, and had creme brulee for dessert. NO willpower when it comes to creme brulee, I tell you. Absolutely none.

It was an altogether magical, Christmasy sort of day, and I must give credit to John, who bore it all - even the yarn store - without complaint. What a guy, right?

On the way out of town, we were treated to a glimpse of this mural being painted...

Beautiful, and reminded me of the days I was the one climbing ladders and scaffolds. Oh, to be that young and limber again, *sigh*...

We arrived home to two VERY put-out Aussies (even though their best friend Nikki came by to walk them during the day). They've become so spoiled with *Mom and Dad* home all day, and don't like being left alone one bit, which they let us know by much howling and barking when we finally arrive. :)

It's back to work this morning, but only part time for the next few days, as there's still much baking and wrapping to be done. So I'll sign off now, but not before wishing everyone a Happy and Blessed Yule! The days will begin getting lighter now as we enter into winter, and look forward to spring - reason for rejoicing, indeed.

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Many Thanks!

The response to the first annual Christmas and Yule ornaments was overwhelming, and left me wishing I'd painted more!  As quickly as each ornament appeared in the Etsy shop, it was gone - and many emails and messages followed from collectors who missed their favorites...

Altogether there were ten of them, and all I can say is I will probably double that next year (assuming I can carve out enough time to paint that many, hehe!)

In the meantime, if anyone has their heart set on a King of Mice original this year, there are still two trinket boxes in the Etsy shop, which I've just discounted by $10, in the hope that they'll find a home for the holidays. I think they'd be adorable as stocking stuffers, with a few Hershey's kisses inside. ♥

I'll be immersed in commission work for the next few days, but also have one new canvas in the works - an 8" x 10" painting of a gnome riding a reindeer through a snowy birch forest, with a cardinal escort.

Cookie baking and wrapping will also commence, as we prepare for the big day. Courtney will be traveling out from Philly, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that out of town guests will also join us!

I hope your own celebration is everything you wish for, and that wherever you are, you hold your loved ones close...

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


UPDATE - will begin appearing in the Etsy shop at 6PM this evening. :)

....Are on the way. :)  Just a few, very limited edition, dated 2012, and priced at only $39 each. I hope to make this an annual thing, so different King of Mice creations can be added to the tree each year. Details and photos very soon....

♥ Carolee

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Three Yuletide Hares

Hello, and Happy Yuletide! I've been completely absorbed in myth and symbolism this week, and am so excited about the result... 

The triple hare motif - with three hares chasing each other, and sharing just three ears between them - is a symbol appearing in sacred sites from England (the "Tinner's Hares" in Dartmoor churches) to the Middle and Far East. No one seems to understand the precise connection or meaning, although they've come to represent the Trinity in Christian churches, the triple Goddess in pagan tradition, and in other ancient cultures and mythologies, the lunar cycle, femininity and fertility.

I've wanted to explore this image for years now, and finally delved into it (with a bit of a Yuletide twist) on this wooden platter...

The hares indeed share just three ears, yet each appears to have two. I've bordered the design with Celtic knotwork, and a triple garland of holly and ivy.

Immersion in the lore and mythology surrounding this symbol was pure magic - and of course I feel as though I've just scratched the surface, so look for more pieces exploring this motif soon.

In the meantime, this Yuletide platter will be up for grabs on today's PFATT Marketplace (update on December 10th at 9AM Pacific/1PM eastern), as always on a first-come basis.

Back very soon with new goodies to share (ornaments!)...but first, a few hours much needed sleep...

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Good Things, Small Packages...

The latest seasonal pieces, a group of trinket boxes, made of birch, painted in acrylics, and some accented with a little sparkly glitter paint....

The brown hare, reindeer and snowshoe rabbit are sold, but the rest are up for grabs on Etsy. :)

Thanks for looking, and I'll be back very soon with new work!

♥ Carolee

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Visions of Sugarplums"

Just popping in to share this sparkly piece...

It's a bit larger than the oval bentwood boxes  I painted last season, and I really loved working with this size. Available now on Etsy. :) UPDATE ~ SOLD

Back very soon!
♥ Carolee