Thursday, December 26, 2013

Slipping Past Soltice

The winter solstice passed by in a quiet, frozen hush and the first day of winter arrived. There was barely a solstice sunrise or sunset. The gray sky just dimmed like a curtain call to the day, to the season. On the morning of the solstice, the cloud blanketed sky brightened to a dull gray and spat ice in a drizzling shower. The trees glittered beneath the gray. The following days have rushed by in holiday fashion. Friends and family arrived, meals were eaten amidst laughter and good cheer. The days only get longer from here, friends, and as each day passes the green sprouting splendor of spring draws nearer. Though it is still a ways away, may we remember, as we hunker down beneath the snow near a fire with a book, that the green will return. And when it does, may we thankful as ever.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Warm Wishes

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday and a Merry Christmas, days full of family and of cheer, moments of warmth near a hearth fire or a bonfire, dark nights lit by candles and twinkling lights. Happy Yule and a Bright New Year to all.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holiday Mugs

Nothing helps warm your day in the cold winter like a hot cuppa tea, coffee, cocoa, or cider (or a dash of something stronger). These  hand-painted mugs were commissioned for a group of co-workers. What a lucky bunch.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Feast of Fools

I have, for a long time, admired the work of artist and expert storyteller of myth and legend, Rima Staines. She hails from Devon, England and creates the most fantastic work (her blog is equally intriguing). I have recently bought a calendar, full to the brim with glimpses into otherworldly characters, and a small print below. I am thoroughly pleased (in love) with both. Her work is saturated with old world tales, mystery, alchemy, herb lore, and some undefinable magic that is hers alone. I urge you to take a look sometime into the wondrous rabbit hole that is The Hermitage.

Rima's Feast of Fools in my Home. Bringing warmth to these cold winter days.
2014  Calendar from The Hermitage. So glad I snatched one up - they are sold out now.
Rima's Feast of Fools for sale in The Hermitage Etsy Shop in various sizes.

The Many Men of Christmas

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dressed in Holiday Style

Some of my more festive Nutcrackers: A folk Santa, Snow Skier, Reindeer, Piano Player (Music Box), Santa Soldier, Santa Bearing Gifts, and Chubby Snowman.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nordic Dreams

Nutcracker Soldiers Stand Sentinel

My Soldier Nutcrackers from tiny, to plump, to giant. Anyone else think that the tall guy in red and green is ringer for Daniel Day Lewis?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some Hard Working Nuts

Some of my "professional" Nutcrackers. Left to Right:
Hunter, Policeman, Rock Star, Football Player, Carpenter, Soldier

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nuts from Around the World

Here are some of my Nutcrackers that hail from around the world. Top to bottom, left to right:
Top: Unknown solder, King Louis XIV from France, Richard the Lionhearted - England.
Middle: Casanova - Italy, Irish, Scottish Bagpiper, Steinbach Scottish Bagpiper, King Wenceslas, Shakespeare - England, another Irish not quite leprechaun. 
Bottom: Swedish Santa, German Clockmaker, Erik the Viking, Beefeater - Guard at the Tower of London, England. 
Do you have a favorite yet?

Friday, December 6, 2013

In a Nutshell

Swedish Santa, German Clockmaker, Erik the Viking, and a Beefeater from the Tower of London. These guys are some of my favorites - they are diminutive (about 4 inches tall) and worldly.

Nutcrackers, in a rudimentary sense, are as old as the hills. Over time they have become more elaborate and decorative. By the 18th and 19th centuries, nutcrackers began resembling animals and humans. Decorative or toy nutcrackers, however, did not become popular until the 1800s, beginning in Germany.  It was once believed that Nutcrackers brought good luck to a family, protected the household, and even ward off evil spirits. Once practical tools, then decorative tools, they’ve now become mostly decorative, collectable icons of the holidays. A ballet from long ago has helped kindle a love Nutcrackers worldwide.
In 1892, a two act ballet premiered in Russia based on a story by ETA Hoffman, the score written by Tchaikovsky. Though not very successful at the time, the ballet and the score have gained popularity over the centuries and are now a holiday staple, performed widely the world round.

From the North Country

My Wintery Nutcrackers

Winter Wonderland

So the blizzard has landed. We probably got about a foot of snow after a good dose of sleet. There is a quiet hush in the woods despite the chatter of birds. It is cold and getting colder and the blanket of snow will make it hard to get anywhere in the coming days. It is beautiful though, no doubt about it. Our woods have been transformed into a Narnia-esque world of dreams and wonder. In honor of a world dripping in silver white wonder, I'll introduce you to some of my icy Nutcrackers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dusting off the Nutcrackers.

It's that time, to drag out all the holiday trimmings. Or in my case, carry great boxes down stairs from a barn loft, load into a truck bed, then carry them indoors. Unpack from smaller boxes, dust hats and boots, and re-glue a eyebrow, a mustache or two. Oh, but it's worth it.
It all began with this figurine, that was around long before I was. At Christmastime, it got gently unpacked and placed in a wooded shadow box near the tree. I was intrigued by the fairy story behind this figurine of Clara holding her nutcracker. I received my first nutcracker (below) and a book full of dreamy illustrations in 1991.
During this time, there existed a magical shop (in the mall of all places): The Haus of Bavaria. I would peruse this small shop in wonder, like a kid in a candy store (they did, in fact have German candies which I often bought). I still have a wooden ornament that my brother gave me from the Haus as well as a small replica of those giant bells worn by cattle in Bavaria. Of course, I saw many a Nutcracker in the Haus of Bavaria. I was so intrigued by other cultures and Christmas traditions were the first window into other countries that I had.  
A few years later when I was 8 or 9, my best friend was cast in the production of the Nutcracker by the Springfield Ballet. This was a big deal, and I have a memory of either going with her to auditions or to a practice. Of course, I made it to opening night at an old time theatre and watched in wonder as the story unfolded - the sort of scary Mr. Drosselmeier, dancing clowns and toys, sugarplum fairies, and a kingdom of ice. I have been getting a Nutcracker every Christmas since, to be opened on Christmas Eve. My husband began giving me one a year as well after we met. So I now have 44 and counting! Plus some ornaments and the figurine. Check in often to meet more of my Nutcracker fleet. Up next, a little history.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

20% Off and New Tools

Just one more day left for 20% anything in my shop. My shelves are lined with wonderful, whimsical gifts, including some brand new journals. Use the code THANKS2013 good until Tuesday.

I would also like to bring attention to some new tools on my sidebar. On the right, above my Etsy Shop button you can now search my entire blog with just a single word. I hope this makes it easier to find things you saw once upon a time. Post topics (further down the sidebar) may help you find something as well and I don't think the search function searches through labels. So use both if you need. Beneath that you can now subscribe via email to my blogposts or choose to follow the blog. Also you can easily share on Facebook & Twitter by the click of a button. Hope these things help you navigate my wanderings. Cheers!

Check out some brand new journals in my shop: