Monday, December 29, 2008


Few Americans know all the reasons for Israel's air strike against Hama targets in Gaza. Some see it as another show of force by a country the United States should no longer support. I hear only too often the code words "no more blank checks" and I wonder when was the check ever blank. Israel is the only democratic ally the United States has in the Middle East. That alone adds translate into valuable currency.
That the reasons go back to the ham fisted doings of the British during the Partition, is too long a story to go into at the moment. The fact is that Hamas, bankrolled and otherwise supported by the Iranian government, has been launching missiles at Israeli civilian targets for eight years. Imagine Cuba hurling Kassams at Florida and you get the picture. No country and certainly not the US would tolerate this state of affairs for so long. In fact, we have gone to war at lesser provocation. Point is, the Israeli action was not arrived at on an impulse. Lest we forget, it was Hamas that refused to renew the cease fire brokered by the Egyptians.
Israelis are well aware that world opinion is, as it has been for centuries, far from objective when it comes to Jews. For example, there was no hue and cry from the world press when the Islamic terrorists in Mumbai sexually mutilated and murdered a young rabbi and his wife. There were no demonstrations in European capitals in support of the victims of missile attacks in Sderot. But there were demonstrations against Israel immediately following the air strikes. For weeks there will be hue and cry all over the world against the "Zionist entity."

It is important to remember that the Israelis had exhausted other possibilities. The blood is the the hands of Ahmadinejad and his Hamas henchmen. No self-respecting Jew rejoices at war. No one in his right mind fails to feel sympathy for the beleaguered Palestinian people Hamas so shamelessly exploits. No decent human being applauds the use of force against civilian targets. Yet Hamas gives Israel no alternative when it shells Israeli civilians, then hides behind Palestinian civilians when the Israeli military retaliates. Will the pc intellectuals if the First World see all these nuances or will their minds be so clouded by partisan propaganda issuing from sources such as Al Jazeera, that they will once again brand Israelis as ruthless aggressors? Quite possibly.

Where does that leave me, a Jew who us relatively safe in the Diaspora?Am I glad that the IAF is beating the tar out of Hamas? Certainly not. Alpha strikes are all very well on a computer screen, but the cost in human lives and the spiritual erosion they occasion is tremendous. Jews are people of peace. The average Palestinian, freed from the evil influence of rogue Moslems of Hamas & Company, no doubt wants what we all want--peace, a modicum of happiness and a healthy share of hope for the future. I grieve for Palestinian victims as I grieve for the young people of the IDF who must carry out these air strikes. Grief or no grief, in this fight, my heart is with Israel. Ein brera, no alternative.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Envelopes lined with origami paper.
Envelope lined with origami Waves paper. The coffee flavored Norwegian chocolate came from the travelling Cossack. Filigree, pearl and water sapphire earring from an undisclosed source.

Origami paper is not just for origami. I use my stash to line A2 Stardust envelopes.
Note to members of the Ravelry Pen Fetish group--fineartstore is one of the places I visit for decorative paper. They have a fabulous selection of art paper that includes An-Jing, Yuzen, Chiyogami, Cavallini, Nepalese handprinted, and much more. If you feel like being truly extravagant, visit Legion Paper for handmade Japanese at $490 a sheet. The fiscally cautious will prefer Dick Blick's Fabriano Esportazione at $ 26 or finearts mulberry smooth at $2.75

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wine custard, pear and cashew pie

I have been updating to include some of my latest work--a stunning green turquoise necklace, a pearl necklace enhanced with a fine silver bead made by the extraordinarily talented Anne Choi, a sterling and turquoise pin. This is only a fraction of an inventory that must be photographed and catalogued. My conclusion is that self-employment is not for the faint of heart. The hours are long, OSHA is not on one's side, the boss is grumpy when work does not go well and the wages are terrible. The good thing is when you are doing work you love, it does feel like play most of the time. If you are lucky, what you do pleases others--forget about pleasing yourself--artisans are driven to do better and better. It is the nature of the beast.

I think I have driven myself sufficiently for today. It is time to make myself a nice cup of coffee--let it be freshly ground Mirembe Kawamera from
--to go with a slice of pear pie there is no recipe. I just threw things together and hoped for the best. That is, I took a three very ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced them. Then I cooked them in a syrup made with one and a half cups of Merlot wine, one cup of sugar, a dash of ground Vietnamese cinnamon. I cooked the pears until they were tender, strained them and reduced the syrup to one cup. After the pears and syrup cooled, I beat four eggs, mixed in a tin of sweetened condensed milk, added the wine syrup and mixed well, Next I added the pears and one and a half cups unsalted, raw cashews. In poured the mix into a handmade--please applaud--butter crust and baked it at 350F for 50 minutes. Yes, it is rich, yes, it is sweet, aren't we all? Join me in saying the benediction for delicious things. There is one, I am sure.


There is no green to rival that of Carico Lake turquoise, but these Emerald Lake turquoise rondells are a close match for the Carico pendant, as the 20" necklace above demonstrates. Sterling silver findings $150.


In descending order,
Turquoise and sterling silver pin. $105

Shin pin in sterling with blue paua and mother of pearl cabochons. $85

Mokume gane pin embellished with mawsitsit cabochon and two Akoya pearls. $120

When Mrs. Sufganiot wishes to announce that she is happy with her choices, she wears this sterling silver and garnet No Regrets pin on her lapel. $45 Entirely handmade and sterling silver


This is another variation on Simplicity's M4905 tote bage pattern. I made it for a young woman who loves loves to knit. The project took approximately three hours to complete.
Folkwear carries bias tape makers, Asian knot templates and fabulous patterns for ethnic and retro clothing and accessories such as a Huichol wardrobe, Ukrainian shirts, tabi socks, Syrian dress and Gibson girl bloise. Sign up for their e-newsletter and they will send you the occasional free pattern.
Bubbly Cauldron artisan soap available at
Visconti Boutique Ink from

Tough times call for tough measures, so say the Spartan among us. By and large, that means making do making over or doing without. If you are one of those people who start your holiday preparations a year in advance, you already have all your presents wrapped and ready to be distributed. If, on the other hand, you are still wondering what sort of gift you can find that will not utterly destroy your budget, I have a few suggestions.


Skype, Yahoo and MSN instant messaging programs allow you to make computer-to-computer calls at no cost. At my house we use it to talk to friends in the US, Spain and Israel.

Share e-books from the Gutenberg Project, www.

Read and share online publications such as Martha Stewart's Magazine, Better Home and Gardens, House Beautiful, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair Magazine, The Washington Post, The Jerusalem Post, and Ha'aretz. All these sites offer free memberships.


Cuttings from your own house plants. African violets, scented geraniums, Jade plant, spider plant are easy to propagate. Pot the cutting in a recycled tin et voila, you have a truly green gift.

Check out frugal recipes at and find recipes for bread, tortilla soup and simple salads. Make them as a complete meal for a friend.

FOR SCRIBBLERS has Rotring Core Technor Medium Nib and Lysium Fine Nib fountain pens for $9.99 each. They also have thre ounces of brown Visconti Boutique ink, in a nifty bottle with a wooden stopper for $ 8, and a Clairefontaine Triomphe 50-page writing pad for $5 .

Moleskine Volant pocket Journals and reporter notebooks, Cavallini easel calendars, Nepali Lotka envelopes, Rhodia writing pads and pencil sets are some of the items under ten dollars at offers a single 10x14" sheet of handmade Amalfi paper for $10. Expensive, yes, but the smile it will put on the face of your favorite papyrophile is priceless.

The metropolitan Museum of Art has some super deals on fine stationery. My favorite is a box of 36 Cat cards and envelopes for $9.88


Foodies will love the 220 grams jar of Jerusalem wildflower honey for 5.50, the 500ml bottle of award winning Halutza first cold press olive oil produced in the Negev region of Israel, 13 ounce jars of ethrog, quince, cherry tomato and plum confiture for $3 dollars each--all available at

DeFluri's chocolates, in Martinsburg, WV has delicious truffles at unbeatable prices. Flatlanders can order them at

Start windowsill herb gardens in latte cups and bowls from thrift shops and discount stores make great planters. Line them with pebbles, add potting soil and green onions, chives, oregano and cilantro seeds. They germinate in no time. is a reliable source of inexpensive herb seeds.


Amaryllis bulbs and paperwhite narcissi will bring cheer on the darkest days of winter. They can usually be found at supermarkets and discount stores during the holiday season for less than ten dollars.

Scented candles from discount stores and thrift shops.

Silk scarves from thrift and consignment shops.

Check out for reasonably priced yarn and deliciously scented artisan soaps.

The vanilla soap from is a a real treat. I should know. My daughter makes it.

Start your best beloved's day day right with a cup of Mirembe Kawamera coffee available at http://www.thanksgiving/

Mirembe Kawamera coffee is "A sweet, nutty coffee from Uganda with notes of pecan and nutmeg, grown by an amazing and unique cooperative.
The Story
Mirembe Kawomera (mir´em bay cow o mare´a) means "delicious peace" in the Ugandan language Luganda. It is the name of a Ugandan cooperative of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.
Grown high on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, a dormant volcano in eastern Uganda, Mirembe Kawomera Coffee is produced in small batches by the family farmers of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.
$1 from the sale of every package donated to the Peace Kawomera Cooperative to support their community-based projects."


The ls The Collaborator of Bethlehem and A Grave in Gaza, by Matt Beynon-Rees are available at


Monday, December 15, 2008

My friend, poet Judy Neri, has just published Always the Trains, a book I highly recommend. It is available at and you probably can get it on time for the holidays if you order it immediately. Judy is a person of immense grace, courage and generiosity. These qualities shine through in the way she deals with the world and they illuminate her poetry. I am honoured to know her and her husband Umberto.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sadly, difficult times do not necessarily create a bond between people. When one's wallet is nearly empty, it seems easier to give in to bitterness and envy than to appreciate the good things we have. I sympathize with a young friend's anger at someone else's frivolous expenses and I share her sorrow at not being able to provide her children with that which deems essential to a happy holiday celebration. Being much older, I have find it easier to be amused at wealthy friends' extravagance. I enjoy looking at their lovely possessions, but frankly, I have no need for a pair of shoes that costs $ 600.

True, time there was when I listened to the little voice that said that I needed to wear designer clothes in order to be accepted in a society that has always kinder to haves than to have-nots. A consumer society inevitably fosters social insecurity and the sense that one's worth equals one's acquisitive power. The good thing is that as one ages, one sees the folly of wanting to fill whatever vacuum there is in one's life with material objects.

Not that I espouse a Spartan lifestyle. I would not quibble if someone were to send me a Rembrandt, a silk rug made in Moorish Spain, an emerald necklace, a ruby ring. But I have accepted, at long last, love is the only real treasure. This season, it is my family and friends who will help bring joy and warmth into my life. Whether they own Jimmy Choo shoes or brand x-trainers is of no consequence. Their very being is more valuable than rubies. Sappy, you say? Scoff away. I stand by my choices and I choose joy.


Sterling silver charms--latke frying pan, little hearts, hanukiah, Magen David, dreidel, gift package and egg beater--decorate this necklace donated to Kulanu, " organization which reflects the community of interests of individuals of varied backgrounds and religious practices dedicated to finding and assisting lost and dispersed remnants of the Jewish people." More info about Kulanu a
I accept order for similar necklaces.
I added a freshwater pearl to an antique foil glass Magen David and backed it with sterling silver to make a component for a client's Hannukah necklace. This piece can also be worn on a silver chain. Please e-mail if you wish to have a similar pendant added to a pearl or silver necklace.


I made this freshwater peanut pearl and sterling silver pendant to celebrate the tenth birthday of a little girl affectionaly known as The Peanut. Please contact me if you wish yo have an affordable, one-of-a-kind present designed and made for someone you love.


Antique vermeil pendant shows a grasshopper nibbling on a mushroom. 16 inch silk cord and sterling extension included. $65

Friday, December 5, 2008

Antietam Battlefield, MD.
" America, my newfound land.." John Donne


The woeful saga continues with a brief chapter on flu and tetanus shots. The latter are said to be a necessity for persons of age and the latter are imperative for metalsmiths who are forever playing with sharp objects. The combination is not conducive to good cheer. One longs for a silk robe from J. Peterman, handwoven linen sheets, the fluffiest pillows, great big bouquets of the palest coral roses, chicken soup and love.

Alas, it is none of this is to be--the huge dog would shred the sheets so lovingly made in French convent so very many years ago, roses are dear and never mind J Peterman's offerings. Coffee in bed and a two buttered slices of slightly aged boule help somewhat. Love always help and so does the fact that it is Shabbat. Cheers.


These angel-skin pink freshwater pearls have great luster and at 9 mm, they are unusually large. Matched with 6 mm pearls and a handmade fine silver bead--one of Anne Choi's exquisite creations, they are treasure for the thrifty pearl lover. The bead is inscribed with the Spanish proverb, "Of soup and love, the first is best." The necklace measures 20 inches and it has a sterling silver clasp. $ 135 Please see the Annne Choi beads above. You may select either of them as a focal bead for this necklace.

Forget me not and the words, "Tho absent, ever dear."

"A thousand kitty kisses." Socks, a cat from the Netherlands.

"I'll give my jewels for a string of beads." Shakespeare.

Anne Choi beads to be used as a pendant for the pearls necklace shown below. On the left, Anne Bradstreet's, "If ever two were one, surely we." On the right, Emerson's "Heaven is large and affords space for all modes of love and fortitude." The third bead, my favorite, the Biblical "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers." Please note the angelic feathers on this bead. They are a good example of Choi's flawess carftsmanship.
You may select either of the beads above as as a focal bead for the pearl necklace.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bedazzled: 5, 000 Years of Jewellery at the Walters Gallery, Baltimore, MD
A beautiful dancer in a Maryland farm.


You wake up to news that the President Elect for whom you worked so hard and to whose campaign you donated time, money and jewelry, has decided not to tax gas and oil companies on their windfalls. You read that Mumbai's Islamic terrorists tortured their Jewish victims prior to executing them. You read that Deepak Chopra--whom you never liked anyway-- is fuming because someone challenged his contention that America is to blame for Islamic terrorism. You sigh, think of the hashishim and the Old Man in the Mountain and you wish Deepak were not such a silly prat. Then you realise that blaming the victim is not silly, it is contemptible and you feel that if you were not a good-Jew-in-training you would probably feel like kicking Deepak very hard on his netherlands.
You try to rally. These are bad days, yes, but at least you are not in the Congo or Darfur. You may be poor as a church mouse, bit by golly, this economic meltdown is a temporary thing. This is the land of we-can-do and hell no, the Chinese may not buy GM. You say this to yourself while drinking a cup of coffee that is supposed to taste like Maya chocolate, but that actually tastes like a mix of potting soil, sugar and unknown chemicals. This does nothing to lift your spirits.
You avoid your studio because work is not going superbly. In fact, is not going well at all. The pendant from hell continues to be hellish difficult to finish. You have not recovered from the trauma of having an antique squash blossom necklace come apart in your hands as you tried to clean it at the bathroom sink. You watched in horror as very, very old handmade bench beads tumbled down the drain and your horror grew when the man in your life severed the bathroom's drain pipe during a well-meant but disastrously attempted bead rescue. Best to stay away from jewelry making for a while.
You turn down an invitation to go to the Walters Gallery to see 5, 000 Years of Jewellery. You would like to go, but you have a doctor's appointment. At the doctor's office you must get a tetanus shot--metalsmiths are forever injuring their hands--and a flu shot. The doctor proposes an array of tests which you decline, but the thought lingers--cholesterol level, blood sugar, liver function? Does she think you are dying? The doctor quickly displaces your hypochondria with a revelation, she voted for McCain. Your dear, adorable doctor is one of Those. So are several of your dear friends, for that matter. Some of them rant about lazy people being on Medicare, criminals being sprung by liberal lawyers, Welfare mothers swindling the system and all that jazz. Oy, oy, oy and gevalt! Have they been brainwashed?
Ah, well there is always soup, but today, it is a disaster--The Turkey's Swan Song. You could take to drink. Really.

Do see Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry
Occurs every week on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
During the period October 19, 2008 - January 04, 2009Time: 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM


Stay tuned for a stunning necklace made with 8-9mm pink freshwater pearls and one of Anne Choi's handmade fine silver beads. This one inscribed with the Spanish proverb, "Of soup and love, the first is best."

Also in the works--gorgeous Fox Mine and Arizona green turquoise necklaces, pins, and pendants.