Gold Digging: The Mica Hand

This is a post about fine jewelry,  but you have to follow the trail that led me here. The Chicago Field Museum has this amazing section on Ancient Americas that connects to a vast exhibit on Native Americans. I was trying to rush my dad through Ancient Americas, at least get him through the Aztecs, when I was drawn in by the beautiful work of the Hopewell culture. This group of people lived in the midwest and had an elaborate woodland trade route set up. They were in existence from 200 B.C. to 500 A.D.. This group of people did magnificent things with the materials they received in trade. The first craft that stopped me in my tracks was a collection of hundreds of beads ranging in size from small grape to course coffee grounds. Imagine the work it took to shape, polish, and pierce materials by hand and amass that quantity, bowls full of beads.

As I kept walking, I noticed the icons of abstract body parts, and wondered what the meaning is. Apparently no researches are comfortable taking a wild guess as to why, but the Hopewell frequently traded for precious metals and stones and cut images of hands or thumbs. Here is the piece I was entranced by at the Chicago Field Museum:


This hand is just smaller than a sheet of printer paper, and it was cut as one piece from a single sheet of mica. Notice the bend of the opposable thumb. I wonder if they held the hand or opposable thumb in high regard as we hold the heart or the brain. At that time, it must have seemed that your working hands were the only thing keeping you alive. In their replica of bird talons, they highlight the back claw as a sort of thumb, as well. We would not have evolved in the way that we have without those hands and special thumbs.

After I left that exhibit, I found a pair of silver, native-made earrings in the shape of a flat hand. I was not ready to drop a hundred dollars at the museum that day, but I cannot stop thinking about the hand icons and the beautiful representation in those silver earrings. So, finally, here is a tribute to hands as an icon of strength and ingenuity, or as a symbol of craft and nurturing. A roundup of metallic hand jewelry.


Something I learned while researching this jewelry: Frida Kahlo famously wore and painted herself in a pair of hand earrings made for her by Picasso, and many featured below emulate these. So hurrah for the artists and eclectics of the world.

Additionally, many of these hands are emulating the Hamasa hand, which bears the evil eye and is an icon to promote good fortune in seen in many cultures in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

















Four Things


What are your weekend plans? My parents are visiting, so I get to play tourist and show them the sites around the city. I am excited for deep dish and many museums. I am equally excited that I have the day off of work. Wishing you an equally restful weekend! Here are four fun things to check out while you’re chillin’.

Loving the art project From Scraps, creating special things our of the discards.


Extraordinary Routines is a cool page where you can glean wisdom from successful and relatable ordinary people. Tina Roth for example, the founder of Tattly and Swiss-Miss and way more, shares details about maintaining a sense of family for her kids even as a divorced family. I have known families who have these happy-endings divorces, where both sides can comfortably celebrate birthdays and holidays and make co-decisions about their kids life. It was very neat to read her perspective!


I am equal parts obsessed with and terrified by Michelle Griffiths Instagram. She doesn’t just slackline… she does yoga on the slackline. In insane places like the canyons of Moab!!! I can’t stop looking. She leads workshops, if you’re into that sort of thing. But HOW does she set up the rig???

Have you ever been rock climbing? I have been going on the regular and when my friend posted this on my timeline she summed it up with “This is how I feel sometimes.” No worries, Sara, after watching these I can say with absolute confidence that we are images of grace on that wall.

Four Things


I think everyone should try their own Face the Foliage project in the spirit of changing leaves and all things fall. What a good opportunity to take a mindful walk and make art.


This sweet potato round-up is seriously good. I’m between these tempting noodles with cashew sauce (?!) and the sweet potato peanut stew. Yeah. Sweet potato peanut stew.


My next read, if only to watch the movie after.


I can’t stop watching these mesmerizing animations of Nigerian hairstyles. What a cool art project.


Every Movie I Watched this Summer

Here is a list, in no particular order (other than the order I remembered them) of all the movies I watched this summer. Some were rented, some were at the theatre, some were my suggestion, some weren’t!

40 Year Old Virgin
I know. How did I make it this long without seeing this?

Get Out
If you haven’t seen this yet, do it.

Westworld (the original movie!)
This was SO GOOD. We especially enjoyed it because we had watched the new Westworld series. It was very cool to see the original plot, and the concepts of future technology as predicted in 1973!

Planet of the Apes
My siblings and I watched the old Plant of the Apes movie a lot. I don’t really know why… I think it was the only kid-friendly live-action movie we owned? Anyway, we really like it. This surprisingly made me cry… more than once. I really felt for the apes.

Witches of Eastwick
So good and way way raunchy! We loved Cher’s original nose, the bawdy humor, and of course, the magic. Expect to see this again on the Halloween watchlist.

Entire Jurassic Park Series
How are these 90’s films so much more female-friendly than the 2015 Jurassic World? It is so great to see women represented as strong, leading scientists and researchers. I wish we saw more of that.

The Circle
There were a lot of big names for such a bad movie. Emma, Tom: this is the only time you’ve ever let me down.

A Wrinkle in Time
You know how you watch movies with your parents when you are little, and drift in and out of them? My memory has distorted and spliced these films, and I remembered A Wrinkle in Time a little bit wrong. We still enjoyed it! Kind of 1984ish for children. Plus alternate time dimensions.

Wonder Woman
Strong women in lead roles inspiring strong girls everywhere. I loved it.

American Hustle
This is very well made. It is artsy and realistic, not like it reminds you of real life, but you could imagine it as it would happen in real life.


7 Things

We’ve rounded up 7 great links from the week.

73f227b0-7657-4998-9673-77f4ceb605f2--ae930c88-1bbf-4f80-b227-b11d74934fcb-green.jpegGreen Goddess Kale Smoothie

This smoothie has two secret ingredients. I’m going to tell you those secrets: pear, and… salt? Trust me. I made it, true to the recipe minus the vanilla, with every intention of modifying the recipe after I had tasted it. NOPE! I am hooked. Eating it every day and staying full for 3+ hours even after a long workout. I ended up subbing the almond butter (mine was rancid) with almond flour, and it is delicious and still adds protein.

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10 Ways to Get Ahead and Get the Job

The reactions to our Professionals series has been incredible! I have been taking long, hard looks at my own career trajectory and am glad to share my lessons learned with all of you. Since this was posted, I’ve learned one more “last resort” method of following up: send the business a giant, hand-labeled manilla envelope with a copy of your resumé, cover letter, and sample work inside.


24 Women on How Life Changes with Age

I am not sad to lose my youth. Every year brings me more experience and wisdom. I am genuinely excited to get old (except when my younger sister calls me old). The reflections of these women, from their twenties to their seventies, are thoughtful and resounding.

“Conveniently for me, the older I get, the less I care about the age of my friends. I have come to realize that the connections humans make are truly timeless. Growing up, I was nervous of older or more sophisticated women. Then, as I became a mom, I was nervous of the moms who seemed to be old pros at this gig and had no time for a newbie. Not sure if time has softened or hardened me (you pick), but lately, I simply don’t care! I am so happy making my own decisions. This confidence has brought me MANY new amazing friends. I used to feel that I was ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ for that group… but really, if I can party like I am 30, and reflect like I am 60? I think I’m on the right track.”

-Susan, age 41


Eclipse Experiences in 5 Regions

Did you see the eclipse? Here are photos and stories from 5 friends who experienced the eclipse in ranges from 85% to totality.



NYX Total Control Foundation

As the weather gets dryer, do you find your skin following suit? I was having trouble finding a tinted moisturizer that wasn’t a goopy BB, CC, or DD (what??) cream that clogged my skin. I just tried this thin foundation that comes in a dropper bottle and mixed it with my lotion for the perfect blend of moisture and color. The thing that most impressed me was how long it lasted. I wore this all day, and even though it was mixed with a heavy lotion, the coverage didn’t budge. 2_00bd1b58-5f7e-4e1b-a3bc-f01c2471b634.jpg
In Chorus by Justina Blakeney

I love this musical image of bowed heads and peeking eyes. It seems to show unity and independence happening in unison within a group of unique and diverse women.


Ten Best Album Covers of Summer 2017

Our roundup of the 10 best album covers of the year so far. I guarantee that with this group of artists, some you’ll know and some you won’t. Each album has a link to a track for a first listen.



Ten Best Album Covers of Summer 2017

The 10 best album covers of summer 2017. The albums are ranked by the artistry of the covers, but they are all so good! Each listing has a summary of the album artwork and music, followed by a linked track for a first listen.

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10. “OKNOTOK” by Radiohead

Radiohead rereleased the album, “Ok Computer” with previously unreleased tracks from the original recording session. This refreshed compilation “OKNOTOK” revisits the love and fear of technology, and reminds the listener to maintain a healthy skepticism. The album cover for “OKNOTOK” is the 20 years vintage cover of “Ok Computer.” This album is ranked #10 because the artwork is iconic but… recycled.

First listen: Man of War


9. “Process” by Sampha

It is fitting that, as many of us are introduced to Sampha on his debut solo album, the cover features his face. It is like we are meeting him for the first time. Seemingly in deep thought or repose, Sampha’s image emobdies his album’s message of overcoming grief, his “Process.” Whether or not you know his name, you have likely heard Sampha’s voice singing with Solange, Frank Ocean, Drake, or Kanye. His tracks are heart-wrenching, especially in the context of his story, and his approach to the music is tender and sweet.

First listen: No One Knows Me Like the Piano


8. “What Now” by Sylvan Esso

Cynical lyrics are masked in lyrical melodies and pulsing electronic rhythms in “What Now.” The duo took their time in completing this album, in order to meet the high standards held by fans after the success of the first album. Tracks like “Radio,” capture the wishes of a generation of young hopefuls with appropriate bitterness and vulgarity. Sylvan Esso’s album cover, with an impassioned kiss and brightly colored parrot, is playful and personal, just like the featured tracks.

First Listen: Die Young



7. “More Life” by Drake

Featuring Drake’s father, Papa Graham, on the album front, “More Life” is a personal and reflective compilation. Weaving words with his characteristic flow, Drake shares poetic, intimate stories and lets the rhythmic accompaniment give shape to his words.

First listen: Two Birds, One Stone

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6. “The Order of Time” by Valerie June

Valerie June’s sound is a surprising blend of old Appalachia and contemporary city. Before you hear her speak, you see her wide-curled dreadlocks and feminine attire and you expect her to sound youthful. Her untamed voice, though, carries old stories from the hills of Tennessee through the bold, unique warbles of a seasoned Memphis-raised musician. June’s distinct voice is sweetly balanced by her gentle picking on the guitar or banjo. This album infuses a haunting roots sound with rockabilly electric guitar and a tambourine straight out of church.

First Listen: Shakedown


5. “Melodrama” by Lorde

Telling the story of a party from start to end, Lorde takes a step back from what is popular and a step toward what is true. In a delicate painting by artist Sam McKinniss, the singer-songwriter is featured tucked into bed and cast in the blue light of the evening. The track “Sober,” inspired by the anticipation of a cab ride to a party, is lively and upbeat, describing the desires that inspire a party. The reprise of the track, “Sober II (Melodrama),” taunts of the melodrama that transpired, describing the calm clean-up after the party: “Oh how fast the evening passes/ cleaning up the champagne glasses.”

First Listen: Sober II (Melodrama)



4. “Not Living in Fear” by Hear In Now

A perfect trio of violin, cello, and bass, Hear in Now is jazz, but more. Occasionally, a voice winds through astral strings with purposeful vocal melodies. “Not Living in Fear” features a cover that embodies their sound. The three musicians embrace, set in a field of bright waves and pastel clouds. Each track is titled in such a way that it focuses the listener’s intentions like a meditation.

First Listen: Not Living in Fear


3. “Folklife” by Jayme Stone

Jayme Stone is a prominent ethnomusicologist of our time, not documenting but living the music traditions. It is only fitting that a collection of reinvented folk music features images of contemporary people represented by folk art. Stone’s tracks are as distinct and captivating as the images on his album cover. His music draws sounds from uniquely American landscapes,such as the deep south, which is distinctly represented in the visual cover art with cotton and watermelon plants.

First Listen: Wait on the Risin’ Sun


2. “Good For You” by Aminé
This bold cover art is referenced in the music video of the track “Red Mercedes.” In this narrative, the toilet is the only brief reprieve from the arduous 9 to 5 grind. (Reminds me of the app Poop Salary… sorry!). The track “Yellow” gives us a little insight into the bright backdrop for this comedic image. In other news… millennial pink is dead.

First Listen: Yellow


1. “Planetarium” by Bryce Dessner, James McAlister, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan Stevens
This album art extends beyond the imagery of the cover. There is a dedicated website in the same extension of galactic beauty. The songs are named after many elements of our planetary system and the album is arranged as a collective of art. Space is found in the multimedia of “Planetarium,” from the sounds of electronic waves to the visual feathered flames of the sun.

First Listen: Saturn


What We Read on Vacation

The 9 books read by 6 people during an 11 day vacation.

Kristy packed New Lanark in Search of Utopia, a book about important historical figures from her hometown. She was busy on this trip and didn’t have much chance to read.

Kurt listened to music in his downtime, and didn’t pack a book.

Anthony read Mingus: A Critical Biography, about the great jazz bassist Charles Mingus.

Thor normally out-reads us all, but I didn’t see him touch the copy of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties that Mom gave him. Instead of reading, during his downtime he wrote.

Kendra started with The Kindness of Strangers, a Lonely Planet travel book and collection of short stories. The short stories were kind of hard for us to get into on this trip. What was not difficult to get into was the gripping The Woman in Cabin 10 which she knew must be good when I devoured half of it on a four hour plane ride. While she waited for me to finish the thriller, she read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and when she had finished all of these and realized she was bookless for a 6 hour car trip with the whole family and a 4 hour return flights, she picked up book one of A Game of Thrones which has kept her occupied during our many hours of transit back in Chicago. Kendra was definitely the most dedicated reader on this vacation!

Kelsey read over half of  The Woman in Cabin 10 on the plane. She tried to savor it and read less than a chapter a night, but Kendra new it must be good and rushed her so that she could read it. When Kelsey finished the book on day three of an eleven day trip, she went and bought A Man Called Ove, which she is also breezing through.