Monday, December 6, 2010

Cleopatra's Lipstick

Can you guess what tree is growing in my own backyard that produces a fruit that Cleopatra once allegedly used for lipstick?  

I've written about them before (Pom Pom Blossoms) when the buds were just forming, but now, my little pomegranates babies have all grown up and are about to begin a new journey turning my families lips pink before they travel into their bellies. 

Whether Cleopatra used the pomegranate seed juice for lipstick or not, we know that she must have drank the juice as the many of the trees were planted at Karnak Temple in Egypt 3,500 years ago!(according to Thutmose III, ruler of Egypt). She may have even had decorative items made in their likeness like the gorgeous silver vessel found in Tutankhamun's tomb (see below) and drank the fabled Egyptian pomegranate wine.... Sounds good to me!

I've been fascinated with Egypt since I was a child and was lucky enough to travel there with my family about 20 years ago and wander through the Great Pyramids, Karnak, Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel.  Now that I'm reading "Cleopatra: A Life" by Stacy Schiff, a fascinating Pulitzer Prize winning biography, it's exciting to actually visualize some of the places Cleopatra traveled to as these famous monuments were still ancient wonder of the world in her time! 

 I just noticed the fabulous necklace in the carving of her above. Hmmmm.  I think I may have some jewelry design ideas here!

On the subject of lipstick and Cleopatra again, I must let you know that I also read that her lipstick was "made from carmine beetles, which when worked with pestle gave a strong red color pigment. This was mixed with ant’s eggs, which provided the base."  I prefer the pomegranate theory but whatever was used way back then was thought to be powerfully enchanting because in 1770, "England’s parliament passed a law against lipstick, stating that women who seduced men into marriage by means of make up could be tried as witches!"

silver pomegranate vessel found in Tutankhaman's tomb

PS.  If any of you witches out there are jones-ing to try pomegranate lipstick like Cleo, you can actually buy an eco-friendly one with pomegranate extract:  
Korres Raspberry Anti-oxidant Liquid Lipstick

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baubles, Bangles and More Beads ; )

I've been so indulgent the last year gobbling up loads of beads at the local gem and mineral shows.  As I've mentioned before, my eyes grow bigger than my pocketbook at these affairs and I just can't help myself from adopting all the beautiful treasures I see! My guilt is finally starting to wane since I'm actually using them in my new designs and putting them up for sale.  It is often not easy parting with my little creations but I'm so happy when someone loves them like I do....makes the separation go easier. 

Available on Etsy Sunday December 5th!

Here are a few new ones....

Persimmon colored onyx layered with a fine silver floral pendant
strung with a mix faceted semi-precious  stone beads 
(aquamarine, carnelian, onyx, moonstone, labradorite, 

fine silver pendant with Austrailian opal beads 
strung on Irish waxed linen

fine silver charms mixed with labradorite,
turquoise & sterling beads on Greek leather cord

All silver pieces are created from antique Afghani bronze jewelry dies that I found in a bazaar in Islamabad, Pakistan.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hachiya .... Gesundheit!

Thanksgiving has passed but I'm still feeling it.  It was paradise in Paradise.... awesome family, great fun, delicious food, silly snowball fight, relaxing.  I'm so thankful for my all of my "in-laws".... how I got so lucky I will never know!  

And now that I'm back home in my own paradise, I'm so thankful for living in Ojai and the abundance around me. Right before I left, our persimmon tree was ablaze in brilliant orange leaves and fruit.  It was just beginning to carpet the groundcover with it's color.  I shot a quick photo but realized I need to share more images with you and to finally bring some fruit inside to ripen.  I hope they ripen before my bookclub on Thursday ...I'm hoping to make some tasty cookies.

Our persimmon is a Hachiya, which is a variety that produces large oval shaped fruit that must be ripened into almost a mush before it can be used...mostly for baking.  And our happen to be HUGE this year!  The other type is called at Fuyu, which have a squattier shape with a flat bottom.  Fuyus can be picked and eaten raw in a salad or alone.  Both varieties, which originate from Japan and are their national fruit, are loaded with vitamin C and high in fiber. They are good for your gesundheit (which means health) but one shouldn't eat them on an empty stomach!  

Here is something I bet you didn't know. I didn't until today....

from Mother Earth News — Issue # 127 - August/September 1991 —
Remove a few twigs from a persimmon tree, cover them with water, and boil for 20 minutes. Strain and cool the liquid. Applied on a poison ivy or poison oak rash, it will stop the itch immediately, and after a few applications will dry the rash.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lovin' Linen

As I sip my earl grey tea I am thinking about my love of linen.  I love everything and anything linen....sheets, dresses, napkins, pillows. Old, new....I adore it all.  If I could (maybe I've said this before), I would probably live in white linen (layered with cashmere in the winter!) adorned with jewels for color! And now, I have added a new favorite to my list.... waxed irish linen cord!

I had previously used natural hemp linen thread to create braided cords for my silver pendants but my friend Tegan, the fabulous antique letterpress printer, let me in on a little secret source..... Royalwood Ltd.  They are the ultimate source for basket weaving supplies and Irish waxed linen cord.  For a small fee, they will send you a sample card of every color and size of waxed linen you could ever hope for.  I ordered spools of about 5 colors to try out and now I'm itching to order more....purple, red, indigo, mint, fuschia.  

My first experiments with the dyed linen making knotted necklace strands turned out so well, I have more colorful jewelry creations sprouting in my head. I feel like an excited kid with the anticipation of new box of crayolas!

field of flax...birthplace of linen

The necklaces are all for sale on Etsy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

That Second Windy Chi Town City

Windy and cold? Yes... but invigorating!  It wasn't easy going from 90 degrees in Southern California to 30 degrees in Chicago but I am proud to say I acclimated quite well considering I'm a weather wimp.  

For such a huge metropolis, Chicago is really a friendly, clean and beautiful city....and a great place to hoof it!  My feet were killing me when I got home but I really enjoyed walking everywhere as there was something interesting to see around every corner.  We wandered to the new space-age looking Trump Tower and Hancock Tower, pre-fire antique castellated gothic Water Tower,  1922 Neo-gothic Tribune Tower and 1929 deco-inspired Carbide & Carbon building,  Lake Michigan, the Chicago Loop river, Millenium Park, Cultural Center/Public Library, Chicago Art Institute... the list goes on.  We only jumped in a cab one time to dinner as I was in 5 inch high heels with slippery nylons which made it impossible to walk!  After that ridiculous experience I think I have decided to swear off nylons forever!!!!

Here are a few sites from this "Toddlin" town.....

wall detail from the Cultural Center

door casing detail from the Cultural Center

famous Tiffany domed ceiling at the Cultural Center

staircase at the Cultural Center

Millenium Park

The stainless steel Bean

views from Hancock Tower of Trump Tower and "Sears" Tower

peak of Lake Michigan from Hancock Tower

House of Blues and the Yonder Mountain String Band...wooohooo!

It's not my hometown but this ol' Sinatra standard reminds me of my hub (short for "husband", if you weren't sure) and me dining and dancing our way around town......

Chicago, Chicago--that toddlin' town.

Chicago, Chicago--I will show you around. I love it.
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago.
The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down.

On State Street, that great street, I'd just want to say -
They do things they don't do on Broadway.
They have the time, the time of their life.
I saw a man, he danced with his wife.
In Chicago, Chicago, my home town.

Chicago, Chicago--that toddlin' town.
Chicago, Chicago--I'll show you around. I love it.
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago.
The town that Billy Sunday could not shut down.

On State Street that great street, I'd just like to say -
They do things that they never do on Broadway.
They have the time, the time of their life.
I saw a man, he danced with his wife.
In Chicago... Chicago... Chicago.
That's my hometown!

.......who the heck is Billy Sunday anyway???