Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vines Wrapped around a Tree

Photographer: Ida Tomshinsky, 2016
Triptych Photography Art: Tradiscantia out of the pot in an open outdoor environment

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Iconic Handbag Triplet Images

Photography: Ida Tomshinsky, 2016
Former Prime Minister of Great Britain Baroness Margaret Thatcher's handbag in style that will be always remembered: from suits to iconic handbag in a pin format.
Too cute!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pick Into the New Book: "Bags & Purses: The Story of Chic and Practicality" by Ida Tomshinsky

The modern woman goes out of her home and carries a handbag. The purses and handbags are essential fashion accessories; a little home for storing private attributes. Purses and handbags are these fashion items that people do not ware, but carry on a daily base. Look around, today women cannot live without their purses, weather carried for utility or as a status symbol, representing chic and practicality.

The term “purse” is used in reference to a small bag for holding coins. In British English language, it is still used to refer to a small-size coin bag. For example, the expressions such as control the purse strings” or “hold the purse strings” are common remarks to point out who is in charge of the money in the business and in the household.

A “handbag” is a larger fashion accessory that holds items beyond currency, such as items of personal belongings and emergency items to survive on. As usual, in United States and Canada, people use both terms “purse” and “handbag” interchangeably. The term “pouch” comes from Medieval Latin and associates with words: “skin” and “hide.” The term “handbag” began to appear in written documents around the early 1900s.

Since both men and women have something precious to carry around with them, handbags have been indispensable to the history of fashion and to the history of fashion accessories, specifically. The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics display people with pouches carried around the waist, perhaps for the safety reasons. The ancient Greek’s and ancient Roman’s art objects exhibit men and women with small pouches in which they carried coins. The pouches were attached to the belt at the waist area and were called byrasa in Greece and bursa in Rome.

We always search for confirmations in the bible’s text. The bible specifically identifies Judas Iscariot as a purse carrier.

The earliest handbags that have been verified historically were small sacks carried by gentlemen containing pomanders [scented spices and oranges], flint and money. They were called ‘pockets’ and were hung by thongs from the back of the girdle. Pockets were often cut and stolen from behind by thieves and were soon nicknamed as ‘cut purse.’

Peasants in early rural societies used small bags to keep and transport seeds, religion items, and medicine. During the days of King Arthur, the legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries; and according to the medieval histories and romances, the housewives carried the various daily life’s necessities with them in bag or in a pouch. In this time in history, the bag was more as an item of a practical enterprise, and was not an item of vivid fun and chic fashion accessory. The woman needed supplies to accompany her in constant daily journeys without running back to the cottage for medicine or religious artifacts.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bracelets of African Origins

 African origins

Manillas, were a traditional African exchange medium, and in the same time were originally metal bracelets or armlets. Later forms were made of copper, bronze, or brass open rings, almost ring-like, and often horseshoe shaped. The term is derived from the Spanish for bracelet, or manella, or the Portuguese for hand-ring (Rees, 2000). The origin is from the Latin manus or hand meaning monilia, or monile the plural for necklace. (

The universal name for manillas is an ancient term for money, brass or exchange coinage. During the 1470s, Portuguese explorers became aware that cooper bracelets and leg-bands were means of exchange at all along the west coast of Africa. Usually, they were worn by women to display their husband's wealth. Copper, regarded as the ‘red gold’ of Africa, was mined and then traded across the Sahara by merchants from Italy and Arabia. These early Portuguese traders bought tusks of ivory, peppers, and slaves by exchanging currency “manillas bracelets” acceptable to the Africans (Rees, 2000). Eventually manillas became known as slave trade money after they were used by Europeans to acquire slaves. A slave cost about 12 to 15 brass manillas in the 1490s, but consistently less, if they were of copper (Rees, 2000). With inflation a female slave aged 16 in Benin cost about 50 manillas in 1522.

The Nigerian manillas in the African manilla trade have been described as “… an open bracelet in the form of a horseshoe with lozenge shaped ends, measuring about 2 ¼ inches across and weighing about 3 ounces.” (Herbert, 1984) British established an important role in African commerce after 1807 in the palm oil trade. Manillas of various types were traded for oil instead of slaves. (

On the left: Coiled Copper Bracelet. Represented as a sign of wealth and used as currency. Copper calaber rod of thick gauge with bulbous ends that is generally attributed in Nigeria, whose word for money is Mondua. This is the oldest African trade money. Location: West Africa/ Nigeria | Dimensions: 9" x 3.75" x 4.5" | \With Stand 9.25" x 6.25" x 6.25. (

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Emerald, May Birthstone

Emeralds are part of the mineral family known as beryl. Remember, diamonds are not the world’s most valuable gems. There is another gemstone, which is even more rare and cost more than a fine diamond of the same size: the emerald. The emerald proved to be a protagonist that faceted and bewitching as any human character from Cleopatra to Angelina Jolie and Elizabeth Taylor. The most beautiful pieces of emerald jewelry could be found in at the Victoria and Albert Museum in England, at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Emeralds were very popular during the Art DECO period of the 1920s and 1930s. A stunning bracelet made by Cartier and purchased by Edwina, the Countess of Mountbatten in 1928, one of the best dressed women of the world. Today, the Colombian mines continue to be the premier source of the best emeralds of the world; the largest amounts of emerald production come from Brazil and Zambia. Smaller deposits delivered from Zimbabwe, Pakistan and also from Hiddenite, North Carolina, in the United States, a small limited scale. About 1830 emeralds were discovered in the Ural, northwest of Sverdlovsk. Emeralds have been found in Austria, Norway, and near Emmaville, N.S.W., Australia. (Moore, 2014) It looks like the world’s 4,000-year love affair with emerald has only just begun.
The word emerald delivered from a Persian word that means “green gem.” During the history, it changed from Greek to Latin as ‘smaragdus’ to ‘esmaurde’ and ‘esmralde, and later, in 16th century to ‘esmeralde.’ Green is the color of Spring and has long symbolized love and rebirth. As the gem of Venus, it was also considered to aid in fertility and ease of childbirth. Emerald was once believed to cure diseases such as cholera and malaria. Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath as well as make one an eloquent speaker. The legends endowed the wearer with ability to foresee the future when emerald was placed under the tongue.

Cleopatra, Egypt’s tempestuous female monarch was as famous for wearing Emeralds in her time as Liz Taylor is for wearing diamonds in our time. Emeralds have been associated long time with royalty and status as centerpieces of Russian crown jewels, part of the collection of the Iranian State Treasure and favorite of Indian Shahs. Shah Jahan of India is famous for building the Taj Mahal building inscribed his collection with sacred texts and used them as talismans. The color green is secret in Islam, which is why an emerald made such as perfect surface on which to inscribe a religious text.

Emeralds are ancient gemstones. According to the oldest book of the world, the Papyrus Prisse, “but good words are more difficult to find than the emerald, for it is by slaves that it is discovered among the rocks.” This book is 4,500 years old, but the passage was copied from a writing 1,000 years prior. The book was probably referring to the Egyptian mines. The Cleopatra Mines were lost for thousand years, only rediscovered in 1818.

Ancient Egyptian mummies were often buried with an Emerald carved with the symbol of verdure, flourishing greenness, on their necks to symbolize eternal youth. In Rome, the Roman Emperor Niro would watch gladiator games through the flat emerald crystals. The Roman scholar and historian, Pliny recorded: “Indeed, no stone has a color that is more delightful to the eye, for, whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the emerald, there being no gem in existence more intense than this.” The wonderful green color of the gem was believed to lift depression, reduce stress, promoted mental clarity, and warding off evil spirits. Green was the color of the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus. In astrology, Venus is the ruling force over the sun sign of Taurus, April 21 to May 21, perhaps it is why the emerald is designed as the birthstone of Spring, for May.


When discovered in Colombia, emeralds were prized by Incas and Aztecs. The emeralds of Incas were described as being large as egg of an ostrich. Sixteenth century violence became part of the history, when Spanish looted thousands of emeralds in the mines in South America. The explorer Pizarro, in his conquest of Mexico, found plentiful emeralds of surpassing beauty. The contemporary writer d’Acosta states that many stones were ruined by the Spanish soldiers who followed by the priest advise to test stones on their genuineness, and smashed them with hammers. The Spanish, who treasured gold and silver far more than gems, traded emeralds for precious metals. Their trades opened the eyes of European and Asian royalty to emerald’s majesty. Once discovered, South America is on the gemstone map to supply the green beautiful emerald stones to adore bracelets, necklaces, rings, and crowns.

The deeper and more vivid the color of green, the more valuable the gemstone. The most valuable and beautiful Emeralds exhibit an intense bluish hue in addition to their basic bold green color. Emeralds, among the rarest of gems, are almost always found with birthmarks, known as inclusions. Some inclusions are expected and do not detract from the value of the stone as much as with other gemstones.

Recommended list for reading and discussion:

Ethan, Eric. (2011) Emeralds. – Gareth Stevens Publishers. – 24 pages. (Gems: Nature’s Jewels)

Hardy, Joanna and Jonathan Self, Franca Sozzani, Hettie Judah. (2014) Emerald: Twenty-One Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power. – Thames and Hudson. – 272 pages.

Moore, Paul B. (2014) Emerald. In AccessScience. -  McGraw-Hill Education.

Ward, Fred and Charlotte Ward. (2010) Emeralds. – Gem Book Publishers. – 64 pages.

 (Fred Ward Gem Books)


Sunday, April 10, 2016

'There's This Girl..."

“There's this girl that has 13 bracelets

She never takes them off

Out of those 13, she's only afraid to lose 2...

The one she got for her fifteenth birthday...

And the one her lost love gave her...

She never takes it off...”

(Ivette Flores)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Care for Tomatoes

Water generously for the first few days.
Water well throughout growing season, about 2 inches per week during the summer. ...
Mulch five weeks after transplanting to retain moisture.
To help tomatoes through periods of drought, find some flat rocks and place one next to each plant.
Photography: Ida Tomshinsky, 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Joy of Growing Food Series

Photography: Ida Tomshinsky, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sunday, April 3, 2016

5 Top Education Technology Trends in 2016

1. Engaging women, underrepresented minorities, and law-income students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as a major focus.

2. Digital instrumental tools to prove new ways for students to express themselves, gain key skills, and become creative.

3. New technologies will extend the meaning of student learning anytime & anywhere 24/7, allowing students to experience of study and learning throughout their day.

4. Aid technologies will become more specialized and address various needs of students with learning differences.

5.The rise of online tutoring will provide access to on-demand for digital individualized tutoring at an affordable price.