Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Olive Tree

The name Olive Leaf Stencils was inspired, clearly, by the olive tree.  I saw my first olive groves when I was in Italy.  I took a little detour to Assisi on my way to Rome, which turned out to be the most wonderful excursion of my trip to Italy.  Assisi is probably best known for being the birthplace of St. Francis, who was born in 1182.  It is a little walled-in village that was built into a hillside overlooking Umbria.  Its grand basilica (Basilica di San Francesco), one of Italy's best-loved monuments, was finished in 1253, taking only 25 years to build.  For a church of its size, and back then, 25 years was a very short time.  This is a testament to how well-loved and adored St. Francis was.

Apart from the beautiful architecture and view, I loved that there was a very serene and warm feeling there.  Of course, the spring sun certainly helped.  Assisi is said to be one of those sacred places of peace.  

I wandered up to the very top, which is where I came across small olive groves.  The trees were so gorgeous with their silvery leaves and dark little fruits.  It was love at first sight!

I am so grateful for having been able to see these wonderful trees.  I live in New York, and 99% of US olives grow in California, so it would be unlikely that I would see them in the States.  Plus, walking through olive groves in Italy just seems perfect.  I love everything Olive, even the color.  How could you go wrong?  Olive oil, olive tapenade, dirty martinis, olives straight from the jar... I put olive oil in my hair once a week to condition it.  In a pinch, I've even used it as a makeup remover.  It's so good for the skin.
Olive Leaf Extract is also really great for your health.  It is an antioxidant and good for prevention.  It has been known to lower blood pressure, protect against colds, flu and viral infections.  You can also make olive leaf tea.  The dried leaf photo above is from a wonderful Etsy store that I came across: Twig & Leaf Botanicals.  They sell beautiful organic herbs.  Personally, I will always take the herbal route to curing/preventing illness rather than taking antibiotics.  If they're organic too, you're going to get great health benefits.

Here are my Olive Tree, Branch and Leaf stencils, my ode to the lovely olive tree:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ahhh, To Be at Sea...

NYC Feb. 2011
February in New York is probably my least favorite time of year to be alive.  It is the last month of true winter.  Although, I usually count March as "winter" too, but at least March is capable of pleasantly surprising you with the occasional warm front.  Of course, "warm" means like, 38 degrees.  February, however, is also often the coldest month.  I know that some people love winter, but most of those people can ski.  I would be happy if winter were over after Christmas.  This winter has been especially rough because since late December, we've had what seems like two major snow storms per week.  Very unusual.

Anyway, I find myself dreaming of lounging on a sailboat and drifting out on the warm seas.  I'd have a nice cocktail and perhaps be listening to Django Reinhardt.  I'd be lying on the deck to soak up the sun.  When I would grow bored, I might think about all the wonderful textures one can find on a sailboat...

I love the look of rope; miles of rope wrapped around and around.  And chains!  Old, rusty, heavy chains...

I like anything nautical, really.  I love the sailor stripes and the crisp whites.  I love anchors.  So, when I think about the lovely textures one sees on a boat, my mind immediately goes to stencils.  What kind of stencil can I make that would evoke a lovely day of sailing?

I also have this wonderful vintage Chanel necklace that makes me think of nautical chains.  So, with sailing and my necklace in mind, I came up with this one:

I can't wait to do more nautical-themed stencils!  And for SPRING!

Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Skull and Crossbones Birthday Cake for a 5-year-old Girl!

One of my favorite stencil projects was making a pastry stencil for a little girl's birthday cake.  Her name is Walker, and she turned five this past November.  It was great because when I asked her what she wanted on her cake, I was expecting her to say butterflies, flowers, or hearts.  Instead, she exclaimed, "Skeletons!"  She chose skulls with crossbones and I was thrilled to make them for her.

So I frosted the cake, then laid the stencils down and sprinkled black sugar over them.  It worked perfectly. Then, as a contrast to the rather morbid look of the skulls, I did hot pink piping around the edges.  Then came the pirate-esque writing in pink.  How cool is that!?

I also did face painting at her birthday party.  She asked to be a skeleton!  Haha!  She had this girly pink and black party dress, and then this sinister skull face.  I think some of her friends' parents were slightly frightened... But she matched the cake perfectly!  Then we all danced and sang along to Lady Gaga's Poker Face (Walker's favorite song).  Best birthday party ever!

There are so many fun uses for stencils.  I love it!