Where I live, December is a time of gathering and reflection; a time to celebrate and fill our cups before the dark cold winter days to come. Throw some pottery sales and a birthday in there, and to be honest, I generally feel a bit battered by the time the New Year rolls around.

A friend recently shared this song from Dan Mangan, and I think it sums up the bittersweet nostalgia I often feel around the holidays.  

Maybe you can relate? 

Anyway, before I go eat my weight in cheese, I thought I’d share a few of my highlights and favourite things from 2023: 

Favourite Read: as usual, it is pretty hard to just pick one—there were so many! But like much of the world, I got caught up in the whirlwind of Fourth Wing and Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros. They were the perfect escapist read (with a fun dash of steam!) when the real world felt a little much. 

Some other highlights were The Last Devil to Die, by Richard Osman, The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer, and True Biz by Sara Nović. 

I’m currently on my annual re-read of Persuasion by Jane Austen—it is one of my absolute favourite books. Are you a re-reader? If so, I’d love to hear what your favourites are. 

Favourite Recipe: as with the books, it’s hard for me to pick just one favourite recipe, so I’m sharing two—there’s gotta be some perks to being the boss after all. 🤓

Skillet Chicken with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions (I then turned the leftovers into a delicious pasta dish). 

Red Lentil Soup — seriously y’all, I could just drink this stuff. There is something about the cumin seed that I find so deliciously comforting. 

These are both NYTCooking recipes—if you like to cook, I highly recommend this app. The recipes are easy, and delicious—my absolute favourite combo. As a subscriber, I can give away a certain number of gift recipes, so those links above should give you access even if you don’t subscribe. 

Favourite Emerging Artists: Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona is an Inuit potter and printmaker, and I love the bright graphic nature of her pots and her prints. She also created this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day Google Doodle, celebrating Canadian Inuk historian and writer Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk. Pretty cool eh? 

I also fell in love with Janice Cormier’s The Space Between vessel series. 

Song I just couldn’t get enough of: according to Spotify, Crowded Table by Brandi Carlisle was my most listened-to song of 2023. I’ve often thought that it is basically my artist statement in song form. 

Favourite new artist: I was introduced to Jeremie Albino earlier this Fall, and I’m now a bit obsessed. I especially love this duet: Been Worrying. He’s coming to play near me in the spring, and I’m excited to see him live. 

Looking for some new studio jams? Check out my Mellow Studio Playlist here on Spotify. It’s a good one for cold winter days.

Favourite Quote: 

“You either live at the edge of your curiosity, or from the backseat of your doubt. Neither is perfectly comfortable, but one is far more worthwhile”. Brianna Wiest from her book Pivot Year

Favourite Thing I made: Sorry to disappoint, but it isn’t a clay object! I had such a fun time diving into encaustic and paper work during a weeklong workshop I took at Arrowmont this past Summer. This is one of my favourite pieces from those explorations: 

Favourite thing I made in 2023

I still need to figure out how to frame it, but I’m really excited by the possibilities it presents for new ideas and direction with my work. 

Here is one last favourite thing—a favourite photo of myself this year. It was taken just after my Handle-It demonstration at NCECA: 

Handle-It demonstration at NCECA with Adam Meistrell and Sara Wilson

Pictured: Adam Meistrell, Me, Sara Wilson 

I'd love to hear from you! What are some of your favourite things from this year? 

December 19, 2023 — Naomi Clement