Sunday, December 15, 2013

The weather reports did not look good at all!  A wintry mix of ice, snow, rain, and fog was predicted for Saturday, December 14, 2014, the day of my Christmas Open House.  Nevertheless, I prepared as if the day would be sunny and seventy.  

I had already set up the diminutive Christmas decorations that I have collected just for the gallery space.  Some I just picked up in August at the Brown County Humane Society Barn Sale fundraiser and some at a neighbor's Moving Sale.  Others, I have had for years, some since childhood.  

Since I like deer, despite the fact they eat my garden produce and flowers, I have taken to collecting decorations of deer.  A sparkly gold deer hangs in the window.  Small wooden deer are set on the ledges of other windows.  A ceramic deer arches to the sun on another ledge.  

A couple small, golden Christmas trees are strategically placed and a small table top tree is the centerpiece on the food table.  A string of tiny lights wind around the bowls and platters of yummy, organic, "living foods".  A couple of small nativity scenes are tucked on ledges and tabletops.  The big nativity scene with porcelain figurines, made for me by my sister, is in the house and too large for the gallery space.  I had made a large wreath with fresh cut pine boughs and blue ornaments for the outside of the building and set out the lighted wicker reindeer on a stump out front. A beautiful, bright red poinsettia sat on the floor.

I love the Open Houses because I get a chance to prepare foods I don't normally eat as part of my daily diet.  Being a raw foodist now for over ten years, I eat a pretty simple diet of organic, fresh fruits and greens.  The dehydrator is the raw foodists "oven" cooking the food at temperatures under 105  degrees and used to create those more exotic dishes.  I usually don't eat many dehydrated foods because, well, they make me feel dehydrated. 

But the Open Houses give me an excuse to try new and fun recipes as well as tried and true ones.  So, I whipped up a batch of the ever popular, spicy, Mexican flax crackers that are always a favorite.  I have other flavors I can make like an Italian cracker and a curry, Indian cracker but the Spicy Mexican one is my favorite.  I also made a batch of addictive, candied, cinnamon walnuts.  Got everything going in the dehydrator by early Friday afternoon to "cook" overnight and be ready Saturday morning.  Then I made a big bowl of guacamole that is great with the flax crackers.  And cut a variety of fresh veggies and fruits. 

I also made a cranberry relish using my Grandmother Marsh's recipe of cranberries, apples, and oranges run through a Greenstar juicer with the blank plate on.  She sweetened with sugar but I steer clear of refined sugars and used Agave Nectar.  YUMMY!  I have noticed that fresh cranberries are only available in the produce section during the Christmas season so it is nice to take advantage and enjoy them while we can.

So all was set and ready.  I even turned the heater on the night before to make sure the gallery would be nice and toasty.  The temps have been so cold the past week, dipping as low as zero one night!  Luckily, Saturday was downright balmy with temps well above freezing.  

My neighbor, Tim, drove over with his snowplow to clear the driveway a little bit after noon.  Normally, I don't bother plowing as I can get in and out just fine and wear good boots coming and going but I like to have it cleared when expecting guests.  He wasn't sure he would be able to make it so I was totally surprised when he pulled in. 

And, yes, several groups of people did come!  I am so gratified that people came out in the weather to attend my Christmas Open House.  One gentleman called in the morning to make sure it was still a "go" and then drove up with a friend from Madison, Indiana!  He said the drive up was stunningly gorgeous.  I have often noted that the most challenging weather yields the most magnificent scenery.  

A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended.  I loved seeing everyone and sharing some Holiday Cheer!  And to everyone who could not make it (and I am one who would stay tucked in at home by the wood stove when the "weather outside is frightful"!), I want to extend an invitation to please come for a visit at your convenience.  And to those who live too far away to visit, please check out the new paintings on my website at

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Merry Winter Solstice!  Have a blessed holiday season and safe travels.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deep Snow in Yellowwood Forest, December 7, 2013, oil on panel, 16" x 12", c. Charlene Marsh

Hard to believe almost a month has gone by since I last blogged.  Time sure flies!

We got slammed with 8" - 10" of snow last Thursday evening through Friday evening and I've been digging out ever since.  I worked on digging out the cargo van this morning.  Saturday, the sun came out and I desperately wanted to go out in the woods to paint.  I just love those sunny, snowy paintings!  The snow and shadows reflect the blue sky and I love the opportunity to work with all the shades of blue, turquoise, teals, periwinkles, and shale blues and greens.  

BUT, I had a big problem.  My good hiking boots that cost $250 fell apart this fall after only a couple years of use.  I have been looking locally for another pair and finding nothing.  Seems no one carries waterproof women's hiking boots and, if they do, they don't have my size 6.  I really didn't want to order another $250 pair of boots if they are only going to last two years.  

So....Saturday morning, with knee high snow on the ground, all I had were my rubber barn muck boots that I had worn out into the woods the evening before and nearly froze my feet off.  I had to crawl up the hills on all fours to keep from sliding back down with every step.  I also had a pair of low top waterproof hikers I wear in my booth at shows when it is rainy out but they would do nothing to protect from the snow. 

After the local highway trucks came through and plowed and sanded on Saturday, I went into Nashville to the local hardware store, Bears, which I absolutely love.  They always have 3-4-5 "good 'ole boys" waiting to help you and solve any problem you may have.  They taught me how to install an electric fence and have found hardware to solve problems from chicken scratch drawings I bring them.  I knew they had a section of outdoor clothing and since a woman is part (maybe full) owner of the store, they actually carry OUTDOOR CLOTHING FOR WOMEN!  I have found other outdoor gear there when I couldn't find it anywhere else.  

Indeed, they had a full selection of boots for both men and women.  Scanning the selections, my eyes fell on a pair of royal blue(my favorite color) and black boots described as "Arctic Extreme Conditions Sport Boot" by Muck Boots in my size six!  They are knee high, insulated boots with a very thick sole made for walking and working in the snow.  I took them to the check out counter and asked the young lady at the register if they had gotten good reviews and she said, "Everyone around here wears them".  So I bought them, took them home and immediately put them to the test.

The afternoon was already getting later than I would have liked but I was determined to get out to paint.  I must say, I am absolutely thrilled with these boots!  In the past, I would use toe warmers in my hiking boots and my feet would still be freezing cold while I worked on the paintings.  Not just my toes but my nose and fingers were absolutely freezing.  I couldn't wait to pack up and get moving.  But with these boots(and the toe warmers), my feet were perfectly comfortable the entire time!  And I noticed I was comfortable over all.  Even my nose and fingers.  The boots seem to keep the body core warmer.  

 So I am looking forward to a very creative and productive season this winter painting the lovely snow and creek in the forest!  I have posted the painting I did on Saturday at the top of this post.