Friday, March 19, 2010

Online Flea Market Round-Up - Preparedness Course

  • Make sure to put your flashlight by the bed tonight – just in case. . .
  • a.) The baby needs a four o’clock bottle.
    b.) “Conchita” decides to get up at 4 AM.
    c.) Your 16 year old daughter decides to sneak out the window - again!
  • Check the bottom of the closet for that little stash of cash you’ve been hiding for emergencies.
  •  Make sure your fuzzy bathrobe and slippers are handy (yes, this is the acceptable dress code for this event – would I lie to you?!).

  •  Pour yourself a nice cup of coffee (no - it’s probably not worth driving to Starbucks at 4 AM!).
  • Log on to Designing DNA for the first ever online Flea Market Round-Up and get ready to snatch-up some of the best flea market finds you have ever seen! Proceeds from this event will benefit Samaritan’s Purse for Disaster Relief Rebuilding.

See you bright and early tomorrow morning!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

They’re Baaaack! Orange Blossoms, Romance and Brides

I know that many of you have been faced with an unusual amount of snow, ice and flood-producing rains this past winter and I certainly feel your pain! Arizona is the one state that is usually out-of-step with the rest of the nation regarding both weather and Daylight Savings Time. While everyone else is slogging through nature’s fury - our weather is fairly mild during the harshest of winter months. And then, there is the issue of Daylight Savings Time – we are the only state that does not “Spring Forward” nor “Fall Back” with everyone else. Don’t ask me why because I have no idea. I can only imagine some “rogue cowboy” legislator suggesting that we do not need to be in step with everyone else. After all, this is probably one of a few states that you might encounter a sign on an antique store door requiring that all firearms must be checked at the desk (somehow a snake slithering out from behind a Chippendale table does seem rather remote)! Yikes!!

Our weather the past week has pushed up to the low 80’s and this is my favorite time of the year – not too cold – not too hot – just right. Part of my delight in the Arizona March weather is the citrus trees. Yes. . . they’re baaaack! That profoundly intoxicating aroma of the orange blossoms has just started to waft through the back yard. I posted about that delicious time of year two years ago in this posting.

Pearly white orange blossoms have long been associated with brides and for good reasons. According to Cornelia Powell, “Incorporating orange blossoms into the bride's costume originated in ancient China where they were emblems of purity, chastity and innocence. There are few trees so prolific as the orange; it is one of the rare plants that blooms and bears fruit at the same time, thus becoming symbolic of fruitfulness. During the time of the Crusades, the custom was brought from the East first to Spain, then to France , then to England in the early 1800's. By then, many enchanting legends had spread throughout the continent of maidens entwining fresh orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair. The influence became so indoctrinated into the culture that the phrase "to gather orange blossoms" took the meaning “to seek a wife”.

via Whimsical Whites

When real orange blossoms were in short supply or in northern climates where citrus fruits did not flourish, wax replicas were used instead. However, reports in society newspapers of some extravagant Victorian weddings would specify "real orange blossoms" were used and the effusive accounts of the nuptials told of lush scents wafting through the air! These exquisite folkloric flowers, either genuine fresh blossoms or wax replicas, continued to be used to "fulfill the demands of tradition" well into the 1950s. The wax reproductions so prized during the Victorian era have become extremely precious today. Whether it is an entire vintage wax flower wreath that has been restored to wear again or some individual flowers saved to nestle into a newly made headpiece, these charming wax replica orange blossoms are being treasured again, and being used for their uniqueness, beauty and sentiment.”

As a jewelry designer, this is also the time of year when I begin to get requests from brides for new wedding jewelry designs for both themselves and their bridesmaids. It is always such a delight to work with brides to develop a design that will compliment their dresses and those of their wedding party. So far. . .no Bridezillas – just lovely young women looking for something unique and tasteful. I think I enjoy the design process with them so much because I only had one son – so, no weddings to plan.

Orange Blossom Necklace (Flora Collection)

Orange Blossom Earrings

My most recent bridal designs were inspired by the perfumed fragrance of those orange trees in the back yard and are aptly named Orange Blossom Necklace (Flora Collection) and Orange Blossom Earrings. Both designs consist of creamy ivory freshwater pearls coupled with very generous and crystal-clear rock crystal briolettes.

via Theodore and Company
via The Lennox Zimichost

via Modern Interior Design Decoration

via Whimsey by Victoria
via Tim Walker
In keeping with the romance of white orange blossoms and brides I am including some of my favorite white rooms. Perhaps not too practical, but certainly romantic and dreamy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pastels for Spring – No Shrinking Violets

Mariana Hardwick
Elie Saab - Spring 2010
J. Crew
One of the biggest trends this spring season is the nude/pastel colors that are popping up in all the stores. I, for one, could not be more delighted. However, just as with any color trend, there are certain aspects I simply cannot wear. Soft pastel colors exemplify all that is feminine and girly, but often this year they are shown with a bit of edge.

via House and Home

via Decor Pad
via House and Home
One of my favorite combinations is pastel violet or lavender mixed with ballet pinks and/or peach. For most of my career as an interior designer, I shied away from anything that was in the lavender/violet family – considering it too juvenile. It has been only over the past few years that I have come to terms with that family of colors and they have recently piqued my interest.

via Flickr
via Flickr
via Flickr
via Flickr
Flowers however, are a completely different story. I have always been smitten by wisteria with its gnarly vines and stunning display of showy pink/lavender flowers. I always dreamed of a beautiful English terraced garden – complete with gorgeous limestone urns and architectural details such as an arbor replete with a canopy of wisteria. The delicate fragrance and colors belie their sturdiness. Even in the fall and winter, their gnarled and twisted vines create an eerie beauty against a palette of snow.

Wisteria Necklace from the Flora Collection

The fragile colors of the wisteria vine were the inspiration for this gorgeous Wisteria Necklace from the Flora Collection. A soft and beautiful mix of violet, purple and pink represent the colors we most often associate with this stunning floral vine. The explosion of delicate colored amethyst, pink amethyst and rose quartz gemstones culminates with a magnificent 45 carat faceted pink amethyst briolette. 21” long with 24K gold vermeil toggle clasp and accents. A perfect touch of shimmer for a summer garden party.

Monday, March 8, 2010

There’s No Place Like Home

Photo via Flickr
A few weeks ago, when my hubby informed me he had to go to Bermuda on business, I thought it would be a nice little mini-vacation for me since I had never been. Of course it dawned on me much later that I had never bothered to renew my passport and now I had less than 3 weeks to do so – yikes! I happened to be speaking with a new blogging buddy – Colleen of Designing DNA – and she recommended that I use a passport service to expedite the new passport. I am happy to report that I did use one and the mission went exceedingly well. I had my new passport in my possession about a week before I departed.

Photo via Flickr
Our trip to Nassau was very smooth and uneventful (even though my new passport photo makes me look like an escapee from an asylum!). The water surrounding the Bahamas is a beautiful midnight blue color in the deeper water that quickly changes to a magnificent aqua blue shroud around the land masses. Just gorgeous!

Photo via Flickr
Unfortunately, the weather was unseasonably cold, stormy and blustery for the duration of our trip. It was a good opportunity for me to get caught up on some much needed rest since the only tourists brave enough to venture out to the water/pools were children and college students. The hot tub was occasionally populated with the more “mature guests” (who must have been from the northeast) and seemed to be oblivious to the wind chill that comes with 65 degrees and 35-40 MPH winds when stepping out of a heated pool! Brrrrr!

Straw Market - Photo via Flickr
During some of our free time, we ventured into town for shopping and a visit to the Straw Market. Shopping in Nassau really goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are tons of luxury shops that sell everything from perfume to watches and jewelry is a very popular item in many of these stores. If you are someone that likes to buy “brands” – this is you Mecca!

The Straw Market however, is another story! Apparently, there was a fire and it is currently housed under a huge tent while the locals create a more permanent home for the vendors. It is enormous – row after row of 10’tall stalls completely stuffed with all the flotsam and jetsam of a tourist shopper or a fashionista wannabe’s dreams! Isles are about 2’ – 3’ wide and every vendor is trying to engage the tourists into buying a memento or braiding their hair! Most of the articles are strangely enough made in China. One interesting observation – the older island inhabitants do embellish the straw baskets and fans with some type of decorative handiwork – but, the younger generation is simply trying to sell the tourists designer knock-off handbags. Ten minutes of this claustrophobic insanity is just about all I could endure.

Photo via Flickr
Photo via Flickr
Photo via Flickr
Photo via Flickr
Photo via Flickr
Our drives along the island on the way into town were very interesting to me as I had a chance to study some of the local architecture. Buildings and homes ranged from Palladian to Victorian to French – and everything in between! Quite a cacophony of colors and styles - sometimes all under one roof!

It was a lovely opportunity to get a quick education of the island, but I was certainly ready to get home to my own comfortable bed, my two darling Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and a heated home (apparently the hotel does not seem to think they need to have a heating system in the hotel – how bizarre!). As we walked in the front door, my reoccurring grateful feeling of all the familiar comforts returned. It is always exciting to take small journeys to discover exotic places but, there is truly no place like home!

Back to my conversation with Colleen of Designing DNA. Most of us have never suffered the loss of our homes, but sadly there are still families that have lost all the comforts of their homes. I am delighted to be involved in Colleen’s project - Flea Market Round Up - to help raise funds for Samaritan’s Purse for families that are still recovering from the loss of their homes as a result of disasters. Some of the stories are heart-wrenching. I will be donating 100% of the proceeds of my Peacock Flower Necklace in addition to 20% of all sales during the week-end of March 20-21.

Colleen has gathered up an astonishing line up of vendors and items from the generous blogging community and this event should be more fun than a girl’s shopping weekend with the Housewives of New York and a Black AmEx! Please plan to join us and remember. . . flannel PJ’s and fuzzy slippers are acceptable dress code for this event!

For more information on this fun week-end - click here.