Monday, November 28, 2011

A Sad Reality

soaring above Carriage Barn Antiques

Each november sees our annual road trip to upstate New York, this year we hit a few new Antique shops along the way. Sad thing about our  enduring economic crisis, the antique shops are filled with furniture estates are letting go and jewelry is sparse. Gold and silver, as of the last three years has been ever steadily rising and is about the only commodity one can count on not devaluing. The long and short of it, the antique dealers are hurting as we all are scrapping most of their gold and silver to stay a float. Unfortunately it means a loss in Antiquity which will never return. It is precisely for this reason that American Victorian jewelry in gold fill and silver is so rare, as during the great Depression the same thing occurred. I'm saddened to see this happening in my lifetime. There was a time when I began Artemisia where the selection of Antiques was embarrassing, overflowing from glass cabinets in every Antique store. Now what is mostly left is real junk, plastic, metal alloys that peel and turn color, a lot of 1970's baubles. Adversely the extremely fine in tact estate pieces in fine gold remain, a shame really to alter their appearance, not to mention bringing Artemisia to an entirely new and prohibitive price point.
Just at a time when Artemisia is increasing, supply of materials is decreasing.

lust, antique printmakers tool chest, refurbished $400

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Inspiration

Victorian drawing of how Chatelaines are worn 
Chatelaine belt

Chatelaine circa 1780
Chatelaines, women of the early to late 1800's wore these amazing collection of tools hung from a number of chains and fixed to the waist by either a belt or a hook on the waistband of a skirt. This practical piece of jewelry worn by working women through to nobility varied wildly in decoration and metal. The word "Chatelaine" is french and means the keeper of the keys or the mistress of the castle, the image that this meaning conjures in my head is one of an iconic Anne Boleyn the famed first mistress of the Henry the VIII. In practicality the Chatelaine had no such "forbidden fruit" connotation but nonetheless the double entendre of the meaning of the word in French and it's use in English  fascinates me and has inspired a  collection using pieces from Chatelaines and creating necklaces to be worn by the modern day woman all the while knowing the history of that which she is wearing and giving license to her to imagine being the keeper of the castle keys, the seamstress from the 1800's, the Queen of England or even the mistress.
Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII from the Tudors

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Addio Italia

 Veroli, a medieval mountain village has a festival every year with buskers and acrobats and artisans that come from near and far. This band held my attention with its' captivatingly eerie sound from another era. The perfume of grilling sausages and porchetta filled sandwiches wafts heavily in the air and the kids are entertained by stilt walkers while I take in all that is. And know that this too shall pass, another summer ends. Another school year begins.

Summer is nearing its' end, the rains in Collingswood have turned my beautiful sun dried tomatoes into a terrible fly ridden science experiment. The words" we're not in Sicily anymore Dorothy" ring in my ears.
Back home I never realized how loud the secadas were, I feel like I've moved to the tropics. 
My body still on Italian time wakes when the day is crisp and dewy and the sun just peeks out from the horizon, I've never been an early riser but always wished I was to appreciate this most beautiful part of each day. I don't mind at all that my body clock is still altered. 
Pensive mother and daughter 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The Italy of my childhood, back in Ceccano once again three children aboard and a new experience of this land called Cioceria. It’s been five years since I last came and all the familiar faces of my childhood rush in like the wind that rushes through this valley where Ceccano lives. Faces I have seen over the years that have each a small place for me in their hearts remembering when I was to small to walk. Now it is I who have brought the pitter patter of little feet back into this house the scurry and frenzy of childhood, the laughter and the toys, the toys scattered about. 
As I sit on the balcony of this first floor apartment the view is breathtaking, it cannot be compared to anything in America, mountains surround and on the precipice of each lays   thousand year old villages most grown around castles each with it’s own spectacular history and present.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Susine di Zio

Yellow plums

Sweet little things in our uncle Sebastiano's orto...full of fruit trees and ripe violet eggplants, cherry tomatoes bursting off the vine lemons dropping every now and then to the ground breaking the song of the kids splashing  in the pool.


Still alive octopus and the fisherman

It's 8am as we struggle to get out of bed knowing the earlier we get there the more varied the selection of fish coming off the boats with the fishermen in the port of Isola delle Femmine. This is lunch today, traditionally prepared octopus, still alive when we bought it, swimming around in a white pail undulating its' gracefully long tentacles for the rest of its short life. I ask the fisherman to pose for me with this beautiful specimen from the sea, he oddly enough, happily obliges my tourist behaviour. Now with lunch swimming in my brain searching for exactly the right combination of ingredients to make an exquisite meal we stumble across fish so flavorful bought so tedious to clean that they are used primarily for broth (brodo di pesce). The scorfani are the perfect pasta choice for today.
Brodo di Pesce
serves 5

A basket or five medium sized scorfani
3 garlic cloves smashed
a small can of peeled tomatoes squeezed and broken to pieces
extra virgin olive oil 
salt and pepper
water for stock
acine di pepe one pack

Saute' garlic and peeled crushed tomatoes in olive oil until you've perfumed the air around you, add the fish cleaned and still whole ladle the sauteed tomato and garlic olive oil around the fish gently flavoring it and then add enough water to cover all the fish totally and bring to a boil. Once boiling and the fish begin to fall apart remove from heat and strain, there will be scales and bones and cartilage so use a fine strainer. Now what's left is a glorious red orange broth with glistening gold circles of olive oil floating at the surface. Replace in the pot and bring to a boil again then adding the pasta, cook until al dente adjust to your liking with salt and pepper and plate dusting each bowl with parsley and a few drops of raw extra virgin olive oil. Buonissima!