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Christmas continues. Tasty goodies and a conspiracy of beauty and freedom.

Every year my friend W and his kind wife J, who I’ve never met, send me The World’s Best Christmas Cookies. Along with Dove chocolates and other tasty goodies.

To say that those cinnamon rollups are just like Mom used to make is an understatement. Every nibble takes me back to one of the few perfect memories of my childhood. Mom and my multitude of aunts were not great cooks, but all of them could roll up those treats made from pie dough, sugar, and cinnamon and put my little self into joyful delirium. My grown-up self still approves.

Every year the good old USPS does their best to mangle W&J’s gift. This year their “two day” priority mail package, scheduled for delivery on 12/20, arrived after nine days in the wild. It had apparently spent the extra time being shaken like a maraca. But the battering those cookies took won’t affect the taste. Thank you, W&J.


Then came these:

Four pair of earrings featuring sterling silver seeds or leaves on wires also of sterling or niobium.

These came from old friend Elias Alias of The Mental Militia, who you may not know is a stunningly talented jewelry designer, lost-wax caster, diamond setter, and sculptor in gold (samples and background on his past work here and here and here).

You recognize the leaves on that one pair of earrings, I suspect. Well, the seeds on the other three are cast from the same plant (Elias cast the originals 40+ years ago, when said plant actually had seeds; the plants nowadays are sensimilla and cloned). Each seed is solid sterling silver with a hand-applied Florentined finish plus a light dusting of rhodium to forestall tarnishing.

Elias doesn’t usually send me Christmas gifts, let alone ones so deluxe. So I’ll tell you that these are in part also promotional items. They’re promoting a conspiracy of beauty and subversion that any freedom lover may soon enjoy. But not just yet.

That’s all I can say at the moment — except that I’ve already worn two pair from the gift box and they’re very comfortable and attractive. I particularly like the niobium wires (the dark ones). Niobium is friendly even to very sensitive skin and easy to wear all day. The earrings are lightweight, discreet, and prettier in person than in the photo.

In a month or so, Elias and friends will reveal the rest of this lovely “conspiracy.” I’ll have more then.


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  1. larryarnold
    larryarnold December 29, 2018 11:56 am

    Those are really nice.

    We have the original James Avery Artisan Jewelry here, and I’d put these up with his. Though JA doesn’t do subversive.

    I like the ones that hook. Looks like they’d be harder to lose than the ones with post and clip or just hooks.

  2. Claire
    Claire December 29, 2018 12:14 pm

    Elias is incredibly skilled and creative.

    And good thing there’s a style for everybody. I much prefer the styles with the long hook/wire down the back of the ear; they’re easier to put on, very comfortable to wear, and I’ve not lost one yet. The “lotus leaf” hoop design (lower right) has a secure-but-discreet clasp that’s kind of a nice compromise, though.

  3. James
    James December 29, 2018 12:59 pm

    Gorgeous jewelry!

    And my late mother used to make those roll-ups, just as you described, any time she’d make a pie, back when I was just a little optical engineer. Must’ve been the thing that women of that generation did. Just curious: did your mom or your aunts also make a sort of simple candy called “divinity?”

  4. Claire
    Claire December 29, 2018 1:15 pm

    I had no idea those pie-dough cookies were a thing outside of our family. At least not until I started getting these from W&J. Glad to hear you also had that wonderful tradition.

    Actually, one of my multitude of uncles used to make divinity! He was the baby boy of Mom’s family and he cooked! He also made maple-sugar candies.

    It wasn’t a regular thing. I only recall him doing that for our family one time. But the sheer novelty of seeing a man cook tattooed the event on my memory forever, even though I was only six or so at the time.

  5. James
    James December 29, 2018 2:05 pm

    Takes me right to the corner of Memory Lane and Nostalgia Boulevard. Divinity was just a once-a-year Christmas deal for my late mother. The candy itself wasn’t really all that good; it’s the seasonal/family thing.

    My mother’s been dead for 16 years now, and my dad for 26. Considering their state of health and the dreary way they’d be living now, I wouldn’t wish them back even if I could. But I do miss them sometimes.

    Thanks for the sentimental memories!

  6. Joel
    Joel December 29, 2018 3:41 pm

    Glad to see Elias Alias is still active.

  7. larryarnold
    larryarnold December 29, 2018 4:52 pm

    My dad considered cooking, kitchen and campfire, an essential skill everyone needed. My eldest daughter learned from her mother and grandmother; we savored one of her from-scratch apple pies over the holidays. Youngest daughter, her mother and I dragged her through the heat-food-from-cans stage. Luckily for our grandkids, she married an excellent chef.

    Which reminds me, there’s turkey-ham thawing out, and it’s time to invent something with it.

    Claire has all the best friends.

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