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Botanical Beauties - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

BOTANICAL:  pertaining to plants

 

Many people think that the desert is nothing but prickly plants and blowing sand.  Believe me, there are plenty of prickly plants here in the Chihuahuan Desert, and, at times, plenty of blowing sand.  But there are a whole host of other plants that bloom beautifully and are much more friendly to the skin.  The Chihuahuan Desert is termed a "cold desert" since temperatures often drop below freezing during the winter with occasional snowfall.  It is, on average, higher in altitude (El Paso is at 3800 ft / 1200 m) than the neighboring “hot” Sonoran Desert around Tucson (2643 ft / 806 m) which rarely experiences freezing temperatures.  While Tucson and Phoenix bake for several months with triple digits, summer temperatures in the Chihuahuan desert are more moderate, our hottest month being June. Triple digits, yes, but for only a few weeks.  Rainfall averages less than 10" per year, most of that coming during the monsoon season, normally July through mid-September. Amazingly, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature has indicated that the Chihuahuan Desert may be the most biologically diverse desert in the world!  Our plants just tend to be built on a smaller scale than those found in the Sonoran Desert.

Happy Easter! - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

 

Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one pagan and the other Judeo-Christian. Both pagans and Christians have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the spring equinox for millennia.  A majority of religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier pagan celebrations.  The name “Easter” itself originated with the names of an ancient goddess.  The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE), a Christian scholar, first mentioned in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. The "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility was also known as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eastra and others.  

Shadow Dog Designs - New Handmade Necklace and Earrings Gift Ideas

 

 

 

Fortunately the Muses have finally come back from an extended vacation (just in time) and I have been busy creating quite a few new necklaces and pairs of earrings.  Many designs have a definite boho flair and some are supremely elegant.  With the spring arts festival season quickly approaching, my handmade jewelry stock definitely needs to be replenished.  There will be many more new jewelry listings in the coming weeks.

Beautifully Blissful Blues - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

 

I have always been fascinated with words, especially when it comes to colors.  Just how many different words are there to describe a color?  But one person “blue” is not always another person’s “blue.”  My husband is a good example.  This past weekend we were at Lowe’s looking at paint chips:  yellows, blues and greens.  DH’s definition of any shade or tint of blue, whether it is a pale baby blue or a dark navy blue, is “blue.”  I, myself, am much more exacting most of the time.  So, if I see “cornflower blue,” I will call it that.   

Handmade Jewelry - New Earrings and Necklaces by Shadow Dog Designs

 

 

Time seems to rush by so quickly these days.  Wasn’t it just Christmas and now we are already in February?  What happened to January?  Despite a month blasting by, I have been very busy making and listing new earrings and necklaces, many with a boho flair and some a bit more traditional.  All the handmade jewelry featured here are one of a kind designs - you will be the only person in the universe wearing that particular design (unless you have an evil twin in an alternate universe!).  Many of the earrings and necklaces use creations by artist friends from around the world.  Any of these will make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift, a birthday gift, a Mother’s Day gift or a “just because” gift to a loved one . . . or to yourself.

The Magical Color of Purple - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

Since purple is a fairly rare color in nature, an almost magical aura has been associated to it throughout human history.  The first historical record of a purple dye, called Tyrian purple, indicates that it began to be manufactured in the Phoenician city of Tyre in the eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BCE.  The dye was extracted from the glands of several types of shellfish, but especially the Murex brandaris.  The process to extract the dye took about three days.  Thousands of putrefied, crushed shellfish were left to bake in the sun.  Salt was then added and the mash of glands were boiled down.  (Can you imagine the overwhelming stench of the process!!!).  It took about 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye, barely enough to dye a single garment the size of a Roman toga.  In 301 A.D. during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, one pound of purple dye cost 150,000 denarii or around three pounds of gold. This is the main reason the purple color was reserved for emperors or individuals with titles of royal authority.

Countdown to Christmas - Week 12 - Wales

The Mari Lwyd entering a bar as part of Christmas celebrations in Llantrisant; photo by visitwales.com

 

 

 

Y Nadolig (Christmas) celebrations in modern times in Wales are similar to the celebrations in the rest of Great Britain. Several days before Christmas, a small tree (sometimes artificial) is hung with lights, ornaments and trinkets. Paper decorations and streamers often lavishly decorate the rooms of the house. Gifts are exchanged on Christmas Day. The Christmas meal traditionally consists of roast turkey with all the trimmings, a wide array of vegetables, followed by a Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.  BUT . . . it is the older traditions that are the most interesting to me, some of which are still practiced, some of which are making a comeback and one, thankfully, that has fallen by the wayside (for obvious reasons, as you will see). As with all traditions, the same tradition can be different in different parts of the country. I chose my favorite to share here.  

Countdown to Christmas - Week 11 - Vietnam

Laughing Santas in Hanoi; photo courtesy of Crossing Travel

 

 

Christmas in Socialist Republic of Vietnam has had a tumultuous history.  Even though the traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism, Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year.  The other three religious celebrations include the birthday of Buddha, Tet the Lunar New Year and the Mid-autumn Festival.  During the French rule (1887-1954), many people in French Indochina (as Vietnam was known then) became Christians, mainly Catholics.  After the Vietnam War came to an end in 1975 and a Communist government took over, Christians celebrated Christmas very quietly in their own homes.  But, with economic reforms and more liberal policies in the late 1980’s, Christmas began to be celebrated openly again.  Even though only 8% - 10% of Vietnamese are Christians, Christmas is celebrated by all religions in Vietnam.  Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day (which is NOT a national holiday), is the most important day for parties, socializing and elaborate dinners and is a blend of many religious influences.  

Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 10 - Latvia

Ziemassvetki mumming in Latvia; photo courtesy Vienkocu Parks

 

 

 

The Republic of Latvia is one of the three Baltic states in Northern Europe.  Despite the main religion being Christianity, many traditions survive from the ancient pagan celebrations of the Ziemas saulgrieži (winter solstice), the longest night of the year. The people of the Baltics were the last pagans of Europe, until the German crusaders arrived in the 13th century.  Over the centuries the old pagan traditions, characteristic to many Northern European countries, have blended and mixed with the Christian ones and are celebrated during Ziemassvētki, literally meaning winter festival, but also used to denote Christmas.  Since the winter solstice and Christmas happen very close together, the rebirth of the Sun Maiden is celebrated on December 25, along with the birth of the Christ Child. Ziemassvētki is a mix of ethnic, religious and modern traditions all about light coming back into life.

Earthy Browns Abound - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

Despite the grass in our back yard staying an amazing green so far into the year, I can see the slide of winter colors beginning to show up.  Pretty soon our back yard, the arroyo behind the house and the desert over all will be clothed in the many varied shades of warm earthy browns with tinges of other subtle colors.  Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . . for the brilliance of spring.

 

“Earthy Browns Abound” is the theme of this week’s “Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade.  I hope you enjoy the beautifully earthy artisan creations featured here. And, please, support handmade artisan this holiday season.

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