07 August, 2014

The New Romantics

I'm not really sure what's gotten in to me lately.
It's summer.
Blue skies, glowing sun.
Flowers. So many big, bright flowers.
Right now, there is hibiscus blooming everywhere, in every shade of pink you can imagine.
It makes the east coast look a little like Hawaii.
A very little.
Usually, my late summer work reflects all of this.
Flowers in colors as bright as the sun.
Huge collages of them,
filling necklaces and cuffs.
Metal gardens as big as the sky.
{Sky Full of Stars}
 But lately.
Lately, I'm finding myself drawn to these tiny fragments.
Tarnished golds.
Once white flowers in age-yellowed shades of ivory,
like faded photographs.
The good, old kind with not too much sparkle.
And cameos.
I've always been a sucker for those.
{Summer Noon}
 All of these discarded pieces,
the prettiest bits salvaged from rogue earrings and broken pins.
I'm drawn to these fragments like a magpie with an old soul.
Fragments make excellent building blocks:
The Beatles made their greatest album out of a brilliant handful of them.
I don't know what it is.
Maybe it's my natural reaction to a not-too-hot summer
that has allowed gardens to bloom,
and keep blooming
 without burning and withering everything in sight.
Rally against.
Punk rock pretties.
Or maybe it's some sort of creative nesting:
these are the pieces I usually dream up in the winter,
under cold gray skies.
Whatever it is,
I'm going with it.


30 July, 2014

Another Roadside Attraction (Vol 2)

You guys.
Remember forever ago, when I suggested we take a road trip this summer?
And then we didn't?
Blame it on sky-rocketing gas prices.
But they've dropped now, and there's still a few good weeks of summer left.
So buckle up, we're hitting the road!
We're making the run from wherever you are to L.A.
Specifically, Vine Street in the 1930's.
Oh. Did I forget to mention our road trip mobile was capable of time travel?
It is. Pack accordingly.
Los Angeles, for some reason or other, was ripe with bizarre, literal architecture in the early half of the last century
(think Brown Derby).
Buildings in the shapes of things; creatures.
There must be a metaphor in that somewhere,
in the town where people go to escape who and what they are, 
recreating themselves, becoming someone else.
The Hollywood Flower Pot was no exception.
There was no questioning what might be found in this quirky building,
a giant pot filled with equally giant flowers.
And smaller ones for purchase.
The real deal inside the fa├žade.
Brilliant stroke of advertising genius, really.
 A building, a flower shop, disguised as a flower pot.
Another character in a city chock full of 'em.

23 July, 2014

Where the Wild Things Are

I made ice cream again today.
The same basic recipe as the honeysuckle.
But this time, mint.
My mom's mint grows wild.
It knows not the boundaries of the herb garden she, at one time, tried futilely to
keep in contained within.
It grows like a free spirit,
refusing to color inside the lines.
A sprig here, thick-stemmed and leafy, growing up between rows of oregano.
Another, there, tangling with the thyme.
It played hopscotch across the low brick border it was originally planted in.
It crops up in little thickets,
filling in the bald spots where the summer sun has scorched the grass.
Those little thickets.
The leaves bruise when you walk unknowingly over them,
the fragrant oils rising up and tickling the humid air.
The ice cream was an attempt to tame the wild beast.
Or perhaps to try and capture some of that spirit.
I'm not sure which.
It earned a thumbs up from my team of tiny taste-testers.
Of course.
They're a wild bunch themselves,
recognizing a kindred spirit when they meet.
I gave it a thumbs up, too.
I like the earthiness of using the leaves.
Lettuce, O called it.
"Will you take the lettuce out of it before you turn it into ice cream?"
I took it out.
But it left something behind.
Something not found in extracts or oils or artificial flavorings.

16 July, 2014

Lightning in a Bottle

One of the most summertimey things in all of summer has to be fireflies.
They are such a uniquely hot-weather phenomenon.
Catching a mason jar full of them is a right of passage.
When we were little, my sister and I, squeamish and normally avoiding anything that crawled, flew, or fell into the general category of "bug",
would catch them and bring them to my dad.
But instead of putting them into a jar, he would pull off their lights
(I know, I know.)
and stick the little blinking butts onto our fingers.
For a few short moments, before the light faded and went out, we would prance around the yard
with our fingers glowing,
the queens of the night.

And fireflies are precisely what comes to mind when looking at the works in
Canadian artist Amy Friend's series of photographs she calls Dare alla Luce.

The altering of the vintage images using points of light is a wink and a nod
to the light from which the photographs had been created in the first place.
Friend describes the process as "giving the photographs back to the light."
Fittingly, the series' title is an Italian phrase that translates to describe
the moment of birth.
{All images Amy Friend}
Twinkle twinkle, my friends.

11 July, 2014

Happy Weekend

Just about twelve hours and counting until it is, officially, the weekend.
Mine promises to be busy,
selling all of those carefully crafted pretties to the masses.
At least those that chose to remain in the city on a hot July weekend.
There is a general exodus out of here come Friday evening,
what with the close proximity to the shore.
If you have the choice, you'd be a fool not to trade hot concrete for sand between your toes.
I should know,.
I made just that trade earlier in the week,
playing hooky from all that is important for the day.
I ate an orange creamsicle for lunch.
I got sunburn.
It was divine.
But back to the here and now.
Should you find that you are one of those who chose not to leave the city this weekend,
well, count yourself among the lucky.
For The City of Philadelphia has options,
good options,
and won't let you down if it's a great day out that you crave.
I've packed up the travelling show and me and the pretties are hitting the road, starting today.
I'll be at the 30th Street Craft Market today, Friday the 11th, from 11-4.
Come hang out on The Porch at 30th Street Station with me and my super talented friends.
There will be food. And mini golf. And trains.
Tomorrow, I'm pretty psyched to check out the brand new Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Hammocks. Food. A river view (and a river breeze!).
The fine folks at Art Star are curating a weekly
Me and the pretties will be hanging there, under a tree, from 11-3 tomorrow.
So, like I said, Philadelphia will not let you down this weekend.
There are plenty of opportunities to peruse handmade goodness, nap in a hammock, or take in the final game of the World Cup.
Go Argentina.
Have a Happy Weekend, you guys.

07 July, 2014


In the past few years, I have made a lot of necklaces.
A lot.
I have a deep love and feeling of giddiness for each and every one of them.
Despite that, I try, oh so very hard, to keep an emotional distance.
Sure, some sneak in, teasing me and taunting me and telling me to love them better than all the rest.
And those can be found hanging alongside the rest of my personal jewelry collection.
The temptresses.
And, sure, some of them I have a difficult relationship with.
Those that seem such a good idea at the time,
but then for some reason or other, just won't fit together right.
The challengers.
But it's all still love.
I can usually see how things will fit together while everything's still scattered...
sometimes when I'm not even there.
In dreams, the colors come to me, and I'm in the basement before the coffee's even brewed,
laying out the flowered pieces before the fog lifts and the dream is lost.
But this one.
Named after a song by the band Luna, because, oh, yes, she is so very, very Romantica.

She was not born like the rest, a vision from a dream or struck inspiration at a flea market when that last, perfect missing piece is stumbled upon.
No. She was born out of pure happenstance,
from a misfit collection of this and that.
One lone earring missing a pearl, the other, a rhinestone.
A broken clasp shaped like a leaf, and a cameo picked up on impulse.
I've always been a sucker for a cameo.
And, finally, this gold thing.
A starfish, maybe. Or a flower.
By itself, gaudy.
Probably just as gaudy with the wrong pieces surrounding it.
But here, it found it's place.
Fell in with  the right crowd.
A collection of what would ototherwise be junk. 
But here. Here.
It's all just perfect.
All of these weathered odds and ends bringing out the beauty in one another. 
Like Venice. Beauty in the decay.
It may be my most favroute thing I've ever made. 
But I won't be keeping her.
She's bound for bigger things than the occasional jaunt out around my neck.
She needs to be shared, to be sent out into a wider world.
I'll be sad when she goes. But proud.


19 June, 2014

Summer Child

{My skinny mini 1980's self enjoying my grandparent's sprinkler,
 just as much as my skinny mini 2010's self enjoys an empty pool, a rubber raft, a book and a cocktail.}
A few weeks ago, I was at my sister's.
Hangin' out, keeping watch over her littles.
The Dudes were out front,
cleaning up what in my mind was about to become a major disaster
involving a broken bucket, a push broom, and a pile of dirt in the driveway.
I had just taken E upstairs and was singing her to sleep with a cautionary tale about Brenda and Eddy.
Through the open window next to me I heard giggling
coming from the general direction I had left the boys sulking in.
The giggling kept getting louder and louder until it was directly under me.
And then I heard water running.
And shrieking.
And O yelling "Time tunnel! TIME TUNNEL!"
Just like the conductor on Dinosaur Train, his favorite.
I wasn't sure I wanted to know what was going on.
My curiosity eventually got the better of me, though, and I walked out to see two little boys,
hair dripping, wearing nothing but wet shorts and big goofy grins.
(They had gotten dirty sweeping up the dirt and had to hose each other off, of course.)
While I was drying O off and getting him ready for a nap a little later,
I asked him about the time tunnel.
His eyes got all twinkly and his grin once again got big and once again got goofy.
"It's nothing."
he told me, giggling.
And then he went to sleep.
But a few days later, I got it.
I had just turned on the hose to rinse something off.
As soon as that water hit the air,
got it.
The smell of the sun and rubber-warmed water transported me back to so many
childhood summertime memories:
running through the sprinkler, "swimming" in a plastic wading pool,
and, of course, rinsing off the dirt of a hard day's play.
The hose was a time tunnel.
 Probably not the same time tunnel my three year old nephew was experiencing,
but no less magical.

16 June, 2014

The Honeysuckle and the Bee

It was one of those super hot nights last summer.
Too hot to sleep.
Instead, I was wasting the soup-thick moonlit hours lingering over images,
finding inspiration but not the energy to do anything with it.
Too hot.
I paused for a long time on  Local Milk's post about honeysuckle.
It sounded like a dream.
And at this point, it was a dream.
The summer sun had long ago dried the sweet blossoms that grow like wild weeds around the perimeter of the yard.
Next year, I promised myself.

So, when the tiny flowers bloomed again come late spring,
I kept my promise.
On a particularly bright and sticky late Sunday morning I set out,
my bare legs seemingly singing out a silent siren's call to every mosquito in a ten mile radius.
But I didn't care.
I was gathering honeysuckle with intent.
I just didn't quite know what that intent was yet.
As my basket filled with fragrant blooms, my mind drifted.

Eggs. Sugar. Cream.
Such deceptively simple ingredients yielding infinite possibilities.
Ice cream it would be.
And ice cream it was.
I set forth, sans recipe, with a vague knowledge of what I was doing and a whole lot of honeysuckle.
And, you guys, it was a dream.
A perfectly captured, edible snapshot of summer.

Honeysuckle Ice Cream
4 cups honeysuckle
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
Gently rinse the honeysuckle, picking out any leaves. Allow to dry on a towel.
Combine the honeysuckle flower, milk, and cream in a bowl.
Cover and let sit in the refrigerator 24 hours.
Strain the milk and cream through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a heavy saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil; remove from heat.
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
While still whisking, very slowly add the hot cream mixture into the bowl
(you'll want to keep whisking so you don't cook the eggs).
Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer registers 170 degrees F.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into a large bowl.
Place the covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight or until the custard becomes chilled.
Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.
Place finished ice cream into an air tight container and place in freezer for a couple of hours before serving.

11 June, 2014

It's Only A Change of Time

It's such a strange concept, when you really think about it.
It seems to exist on two liquid planes; polar opposites.
Long moments tick by, honey-slow, sixty seconds seemingly stretching themselves to fill in the space of an hour.
Or, the minutes seem to flow past lightning quick, as if moved by a current, the second hand spinning like a child's top gone out of control.
We humans, too often not content to simply exist in the moment,
view time through a haze of "the grass is always greener":
silently willing those slower moments to get on with it,
places to go, things to do,
thumb twiddling not among them;
desperately clinging to the wings of the moments that fly,
begging, pleading for it all to just slow down,
even if just briefly.
But time isn't the one at fault.
Time is a constant.
Non-changing; solid and true.
It's us.
Always so busy, rarely remaining idle.
It's the world we live in.
The constant hub of life spinning around us, like that out of control top.
Pulling at us,
on the outside feeling the drag, those moments seeming to stand still.
From the inside we are pushed,
everything rushing past too quick, a whiplash of time speeding by.
{Clocks by Bee Vintage Redux. That's me.
 Made from repurposed vintage china plates and wallpaper.
They will be debuting for sale at Clover Market in Ardmore, PA, next Sunday, June 22.}
 To freeze time is a lovely idea.
Hold on to a single perfect moment for as long as possible.
But that's what our memories are for.
Infinite space within our brains to keep hold of those perfect moments.
As for time, well, maybe we should just try to accept, enjoy those moments for what they are:
Live within them.
You'll be a much richer person for the experience.

05 June, 2014

Another Roadside Attraction (Vol. 1)

Road trips.
A quintessential summertime activity.
I had this idea, last year, that the lot of us could take a virtual road trip together.
Visit all of those tacky, kitschy roadside attractions that have pretty much no sense of purpose other than to lure in tourists with their quirk and eccentricity.
But I got lazy.
And it never happened.
So let's do it his summer, shall we?
It'll be fun.
Every Thursday, we'll put on our cut-offs and tank tops, jump into some rusty old clunker of a car, roll the windows down (with a hand crank, of course),
slip some Tom Petty into the tape deck, and set out on down the highway.
Every week, a new stop.
Each more bizarre than the last.

{This giant dinosaur, originally a Sinclair Oil gas station in Spring Hill, Florida,
is located just a few miles down the road from where my grandparents lived
when I was a kid.
It still stands today, just as it did then, operating as an auto body shop.
Image via Google images.}
Buckle up, kids.
This should be a fun ride.