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Excessive Heat Warnings Today - I’m Swooning!

Aug 03 2011
I know, I know - It’s hot where ever you are!  You’re right - tank tops and Daisy Dukes should never be worn by anyone over 15 - but at least they’re cool!  For those of you that have suffered intolerable heat this summer (and who has not) - just remember, 110 - 115 degrees is NOT uncommon for Arizona!


In the midst of all this excessive heat, I got a phone call last week from Maryanne at Beadboard Up Country that she was sending me a batch of images from her upcoming knits trunk show.  Maryanne knows I am a big fan of the line and wanted to get my opinion.   When the images arrived, I swooned - not from the heat, but from the gorgeous designs and colors.  We decided that it would be nice to coordinate some of my jewelry designs with these chic ruanas, capes and scarves.  I spent several hours Saturday pairing up the images and having the absolute best time doing so. This wonderful line of couture knits is simply perfect for our temperate winter climate in Arizona.



If you are now swooning from fashion fever,  go to www.BeadboardUpCountry.blogspot.com.  Now is the time to place your orders for some of these gorgeous knits for fall.  When you’re all snuggled up and looking like you just stepped out of Vogue this fall - you’ll be so glad you did!

P.S. - If your favorite jewelry designs have already sold - send me an email (karensugarmanitr@aol.com).  Although the jewelry is one-of-a-kind and limited editions - sometimes, I can reproduce the designs. 

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Mother’s Day Necklace Giveaway – Octo-Mom Here’s Your Chance!

Apr 22 2010

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Please visit my blog and leave a comment to enter the Mother's Day Necklace Giveaway!


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Will You Be my Valentine? A Sweet Valentine Give-Away!

Jan 23 2010
Please visit my blog site - www.karensugarmandesigns.blogspot.com for more information on this Valentine's give-away.

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Designing In Chaos – Okay, I Admit It – I Cheated!

Oct 25 2009


If Mohammed cannot go to the mountain then the mountain must go to Mohammed!  Interior rebuild for exhaust fan completed.

Oven stack is finally installed after the electrical box is moved up 3".

In the continuing saga of the kitchen re-do – about a week ago, after a false start – the appliances were finally installed.  Our previous attempt failed because the electrical box for the oven had to be moved up 3”.  Understand. . .the spec sheet had absolutely zero information on where it should be.  Additionally, the exhaust fan for the hood was too far off the cooktop to work properly and lowering the hood was not an option.  A quick SOS to John, who has been doing all the rough carpentry, provided him with hours of problem solving.  In order to make the exhaust fan lower, he would have to rebuild the side inserts of the French hood and locate a fabricator to cut and bend stainless steel panels.  Man of action that he is – it all got done the same day.  When the appliance installers returned – everything was as it should be and the install was a success. 

Seedy Seedy glass is a directional glass - how did the installers not see the hinges!

You can still see the remnants of the previous ruby red paint in the AC vent!

Meanwhile, Tim our painter and his son, John (really, too many John’s on this project!) were continuing to obliterate the ruby red walls from our starting point and cover them with a lovely soft dove gray color.  Additionally, they were hanging the upper glass doors (seedy glass inserts), adjusting some of the doors and drawers and adding the drawer pulls.  Of course as luck would have it, two of the glass doors had the glass installed in the wrong direction so back to the glass company with those for a redo!



There it is - the induction cooktop that keeps calling my name!
At the end of the week, the first coat of paint was on the walls, the new induction cooktop and oven stack were installed and Tim & son even cleaned up some of the supplies and clutter from the worksite so we could see our vision!  Hubby came home that night and gave me the thumbs up! Yeah!  Of course, he promptly asked me, “What’s for dinner”?  That is when we made the pact – even though I could now use the new cooktop and oven – we would wait until everything was finished. Hubby has been in PA for the past week so it has been pretty easy for me to find something to eat.  I wish I could say I am a food snob, but the truth is, I am happy with a bag of popcorn for dinner!  The night hubby was due to come home (on a very late flight), I decided I did not want to go out foraging for food and located a tiny bundle of angel hair pasta and a jar of marinara sauce – good enough.  Of course, boiling the water for the tiny bundle of pasta on my hotplate took about 25 minutes for the water to boil and 5 minutes to cook! Why the food industry has yet to understand that not every consumer is feeding a family of six has always struck me as odd.  You get the picture. . .I had a HUGE jar of marinara sauce left over.  After a trip to the store for more pasta, tonight’s dinner was decided – left over marinara sauce and pasta! The thought of  waiting 45 minutes for the water to boil on the little hotplate was really just too much for me to bear!  I really wanted to see if spending twice as much for the induction cooktop was worth it.  I was as if that cooktop was calling my name and I was completely helpless to resist! 

At 7:47PM I placed the water on the stove to boil.  By 7:52 the water was at full throttle!  Halleluiah!  5 minutes vs. 45 minutes – who can blame me!  I am totally smitten with this new toy – it’s almost as good as getting a new car!



Assorted Bonbon Earrings for the IFDA Tableau gift bags


Like delectable confections - Bonbon Earrings  

With hubby away for the week and the IFDA Tableau-Designing, Dining & Gaming event only about 3 weeks away, it was time for me to get serious about making up my donation for the Tableau gift bags.  Every evening after dinner, I was free to sit down and create my little Bonbon Earrings for the gift bags while watching the wonderfully trashy Real Housewives of Atlanta and the equally compelling Flipping Out. 

This is my third year to help coordinate the Tableau event and the second year we have raised money for Ryan House.  Ryan House is a pediatric respite and palliative care facility that is the first of its kind being built in Phoenix.  The nexus of their mission is to provide not only the necessary medical care for children with life-limiting conditions but also support and bereavement counseling for the families of these precious family members.



Dinner at Versaille - Most Elegant
Karen Wirrig of Karen Cole Designs


Venetian Carnival - Most Hollywood Glam
Dana George of Cielo Interiors


Soir Extraordinaire - Most Entertaining
Leslie Colvin of Room for a View


Glimpse of Peace - Best Use of Materials

Christine Norris of Your Home - Your Sanctuary
Karin Crawford of God's Garden Treasures

  Let Them Eat Cake! - Most Creative
Celia Schauble of In The Pursuit of WOW!
Kaleidoscope - Best Use of Color
Adrienne Hart & Maggie Anderson
of H2Originals
By day, the general public can kick off the holiday season by viewing and voting on extraordinary “fantasy” tablescapes.  By night, attendees will literally become part of a dining fantasy. Guests will dine with interior designers at truly unique and breathtaking tables, then travel – at least for a few hours – to Monte Carlo for casino-style gaming and the chance to win fabulous prizes. If you happen to be reading this blog and live in the Phoenix area or perhaps just visiting, I encourage you to attend.  More information and the link for ticket sales are available on the website – www.ifdatableau.com.  Please join us for this very worthwhile event – and don’t forget your gift bag with the Bonbon Earrings!

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Designing Jewelry in Chaos – A Girl Can Dream

Oct 25 2009
I don’t want you to think that my kitchen renovation has come to a complete standstill – it has not!  I am behind in my postings because it has been such a busy month for me – preparing for a jewelry trunk show, organizing the IFDA Tableau fundraising event for Ryan House, traveling and playing the corporate wife seemed to take up all my time recently.   The last time I took photos of the kitchen progress was about a month ago so; I want to make certain that these photos are documented.  Sadly, just like everyone that tackles this type of renovation I have been no exception to delays during the project.  Trying to make some type of dinner (or foraging for takeout meals) every night for almost 3 months has taken its toll.  I am really ready for this to all be over – the novelty has definitely worn off! 

Before the project started – I thought it would be easier than our kitchen renovation in Boston had been because  (a.) we were not tearing down to the studs (b.) we were keeping our cabinets – just replacing the doors and re-facing (c.) we were not replacing the floors at this time – that will be phase two (because I am certain what I want will be ridiculously expensive and hubby is not in the mood for spending – who can blame him!) and last but not least (d.) we have a fairly large laundry with counter space, cabinets and a sink.  Piece of cake – right!


We moved the microwave, toaster oven, a hotplate (found in storage from my office in Boston), and a few (very few) necessities for cooking into the laundry room just as the hammers began to swing during demo.  Our extra garage refrigerator (just outside the laundry room door) has become much more important than I had ever anticipated.  You try to make dinner with only a 3’ long section of counter space!  It is a wonder hubby and I have not murdered each other – talk about too many cooks in the kitchen!  Even Barbie’s dream kitchen makes our laundry room kitchen seem spacious.  You would be amazed at how handy the top of the washing machine can be when you are trying to make a salad!

      In the midst of all the dust and construction in the kitchen as well as the cramped reheating of take out food in our laundry room– I found the kitchen of my dreams.  Obviously this Beverly Ellsley kitchen is an East Coast kitchen, which is where my head belongs even though my body is living in the Southwest.  If I still lived on the East Coast, this kitchen has some of the most delicious elements I could imagine.  I adore the idea of the parquet island top with the metal banded edge and also the magnificent refrigerator doors that look like French carved panels.  The limestone floors, delicate appliqué details on the glass door panels and the beautiful over mantle just speak to me – this is the most elegant kitchen I could imagine.  Some of us look best in blue jeans and a t-shirt and others look best in a ball gown!  I fall into the latter category – I LOVE formal – and that applies to my interior design preferences as well.  You better believe a girl can dream!   

Back to reality. . . about a month ago, this is where we were.  The upper cabinet boxes have now been installed and the walls of the island are up.  Let’s not forget the upper cabinet lighting and the under counter lights are also installed and blaring!  These photos were taken just before my kitchen took on the appearance of a spray booth for the lacquer finish of the cabinets.  Actually that was probably the worst part of the entire process so far (and no photos of that little mess) – the dust was unimaginable even though Tim, our painter of five years, brilliantly constructed an exhaust system for the fumes and dust.  It was a woncder my housekeeper, Blanca, did not resign on the spot!



In the family room, a very large hole had to be cut into the drywall in order to check the vent after the fireplace was put back into position.  Once the vent was checked and secured, the large chunk of drywall was put back into place, taped, floated & textured.  At least that was quick and fairly painless (except for the expense) and we will now have a quasi-real fireplace rather than the “fairy tale” fireplace that the original owners had installed.


      Somehow through all the mess, I was able to get a few new jewelry designs for the Fall ready to go and just in time for the Trunk Show at Do me a Favor.  Unfortunately, several of the newest designs sold at the Trunk Show were completed just days before the show and I simply ran out of time for photographing.  Not to worry, I have lots of new ideas for Fall/Winter that still remain to be made up – so keep checking the web site.  New designs are being listed as they are completed.   We are now in the home stretch for the kitchen completion so perhaps the next posting (following shortly) will begin to look a bit more like a kitchen and less like a mess!

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Designing Jewelry in Chaos – Who Moved My Island?

Aug 20 2009

Someone mentioned to me recently that they were reading my blog to see the progress of my kitchen renovation, but wanted to see what the project looked like in the “before” photos.  Of course they also mentioned that it was a “unique” concept for a blog – interior designs as inspiration for jewelry design.  Well, I am afraid to say, it is a strange combination - but it is my life.  I was an interior designer for 25+ years until I moved to Arizona and decided to try my hand at jewelry design.  This of course, is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened. 

Kitchen Before All The Mayhem Started

As it turns out, I actually had taken some photos of the kitchen and family room before we began this little odyssey.  The last two weeks have really been about moving plumbing & running electrical lines in addition to more demo. 


Family Room Fireplace Before

We bought this home from the original owners who apparently thought “outside the box” on some of their ideas.  Such was the case with the fireplace.  When we moved into the house, much to my chagrin, we were dealing with an electric fake fireplace that was truly an eyesore.  It was not until the painter was changing the color from a very unappealing flesh color to riotous red, when he discovered what appeared to be a wood burning fireplace unit that had been pushed back into the recesses of the corner with the electric fireplace taking center stage!  The entire concept was unimaginable to me!  Who in their right mind would prefer fake logs to the real deal?  I had to go outside to check if we actually had a chimney.  Eureka – we did! 

Family Room Fireplace after "Mantle", "Crown" & Electric Fireplace Are Removed 


Suffice to say the idea of hooking up the original fireplace and getting rid of the ridiculous “mantle” that was apparently installed by someone with a severe case of vertigo and also removing the equally absurd decorative “Santa Fe” crown – was like finding a stash of diamonds for me!  This idea has been stewing around in my head for several years, but I had no idea what might be involved in correcting this little horror or how much it might cost.  Since the kitchen and family room are visually one space and we were making a mess anyway – it seemed like a good idea to rip everything out.  More demo – more dust!


Kitchen Island Moved 6" - A New Wall & Base Cabinets Installed

There was a light at the end of that dusty tunnel.  When the house was built, I suspect the crew must have been working on a Monday after a hard week-end of partying.  The lines for the plumbing in the island were much too far away from the rest of the kitchen – 57” to be exact.  As a result, the island made for a space planning nightmare!  I made the decision to move the island back 6” to give us a smidge more room around the table.  This little folly is pretty much like fixing a gunshot wound with a ban-aid – but it’s the best we can do!  In any event, the island was torn down, the plumbing moved, a wall constructed and base cabinet boxes installed.  The jury is still out on this idea.

My Favorite - Calcutta Oro Marble 

Today the crew will begin the process of making the templates for the marble and I am so thrilled.  My hubby knows that I have a radar for choosing the most expensive items in the showroom and this marble was no exception.  Once I got a look at the Calcutta marble slabs – nothing else would do.  Of course, that means we are already very much over budget.  The truth is that even though I will take the blame for this budgetary disaster, hubby really liked the Calcutta too and it became the inspiration for the kitchen. Somehow (and I don’t really even understand this myself), I have been a very busy bee making up jewelry for custom orders in the midst of all this confusion.  Beading must be much more therapeutic than even I realized!   

Densely Embedded Tourmilated Straws Create A Very Dramatic Feature Bead

Merlot Colored Pearls and Softly Cupped Petal Pearls Create A Dramatic Cluster

Since red is the color for fall - I decided to make up some earrings with some intriguing tourmilated quartz beads falling from a cluster of merlot red pearls.  I loved the way they turned out and will probably make up a necklace using the same colors to add to the “Flora” collection.  These colors remind me of the velvety deep red found in Celosia or Cockscomb.  So, here I am again, designing jewelry in the midst of chaos!

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Designing Jewelry in Chaos – What Lies Beneath

Aug 06 2009

Okay. . .we are really hip deep in it now!  It’s official. . .it’s too late to turn back!  The kitchen demo has not only begun, but it is now a work in progress.  This is clearly not the glamorous side of interior design!  When hubby agreed to let me give the kitchen a facelift – I’m not certain he realized it would be deja vous. 

Just before we moved from Boston to Arizona we underwent a massive renovation that went on for what seemed like forever.  As a matter of fact, the paint was barely dry when we were transferred.  We endured six months of dust, confusion and make-do meals and I don’t think it is my husband’s finest hour (or mine for that matter). Renovating a kitchen is probably the most disruptive remodel a family can make.  


Furniture shrouded in plastic


The island will be the last item removed

We let the dust settle from the kitchen demo and went off to Boston to see our newest grandson last week – knowing what was waiting for us when we returned!  On Monday, the carpenter just had some drywall delivered and it allowed us to get back into our routines after the visit to Boston.  Tuesday was a bit more demo & dust.  Yesterday was a busy day with the roofer showing up to remove the clay roof tiles in order to cut the hole for the range hood.  In addition to the confusion of the hole being cut in the roof, the electrician showed up to continue running more electrical wires for the glass upper cabinets we are installing now that we have removed the soffit.  Throughout all of this, I am feverishly trying to work on a fundraising event scheduled for this November.  I think it was a bit too much.



Cooktop, soffit and three upper cabinets removed


OOPS! The vent hole is in a roof valley - DO OVER!


Last night, I must have needed some bead therapy!  I decided to pull off the plastic that is shrouding my jewelry supplies and dig around for inspiration.  You would be amazed to see just how many gemstones are condensed into such a small area.  Eureka!  I finally found the luscious Pink Amethyst faceted beads I was looking for and the rest of the evening was all mine for “creative therapy.” 



I was trying out some new ear wires I had commissioned.  I must say that between the new design of the ear wires and the fact that they are Argentium (anti-tarnish) – I am a very happy gal.  I have had these beautiful Pink Amethyst beads for several months and finally felt like the time was right to make up a new design.  I love the look of the gently saucer shaped petal pearls with the sweet little violet-pink colored centers.  They remind me of delicate flowers perched on top of a yummy candy. Hopefully, by my next posting, the kitchen will be a bit further along and looking like it is making some progress toward being an actual functioning kitchen!

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A Week Full of Surprises!

Aug 02 2009

We all have busy lives and, suddenly, mine is no exception.  In addition to coordinating the IFDA Arizona Chapter’s Tableau fundraising event for Ryan House and all that entails, I had the additional insanity of packing up my kitchen in preparation for a demo scheduled for next week.  I knew it was going to be a crazy week, but had no idea what a week of surprises it would turn out to be!  I am not saving the best for last!


I got a call late morning on Monday from my son Chris, that he and his dear wife, Stephanie, have a new bundle of joy!  Brendan Harrison Jones arrived in a hurry. . .he could not even wait for the Dr. to get her scrubs, gloves & mask on!  Thank goodness Chris has big hands and was able to react quickly. . .he was the hero of the day.  Now that’s what you call being a “hands on” father!

  Mother, son & big brother, Timmy, are thrilled to meet one another and things have hopefully settled down now that everyone is at home.  Snoopy, the black lab “fur baby,” may be the exception. . .he is still getting used to the sound of little Brendan’s crying.  Boy, are they going to have their hands full!  I guess we will find out in a week when we go for a visit to meet our newest grandson.  I can barely wait! 

As if having a new grandchild was not enough, I was featured in an interview for World Artisan Gems blog site on Monday as well.  I am so delighted to have been included among such talented artisans from all over the world.  If you are not familiar with this site, and you love gorgeous handcrafted jewelry, please make certain you check out this blog – www.worldartisangems.com.  Don’t forget to leave a little comment so we know you visited.

     My last little surprise of the week came on Friday morning.  I was featured  in the Ruby Lane “Creative Hands” July newsletter in the Artisan Spotlight section for my creations utilizing shells in couture jewelry designs.  I have blogged about my childhood fascination with shells before and I guess I am  not the only person that is mesmerized by them! 

All in all, this has been a week full of wonderful surprises – a gift of new life and two jewelry features.  I just hope next week’s demo is not a trifecta of bad surprises!  You know what they say – good & bad news comes in threes!  I will update posts on  the kitchen renovation as it progresses.

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The Flora Collection – How Does Your Garden Grow?

Aug 02 2009

I’m not certain about the rest of the design community, but I always have a list of potential designs just waiting to be tried out.  As a matter of fact, an entire folder in the computer is full of inspirations, sketches and ideas just waiting to materialize.  Design ideas are gleaned from a variety of sources – fabric, paint colors, art work or even something as “pedestrian” as a favorite pair of shoes!


I recently decided that I should try out a new design idea for summer that is a “twist” on an older collection.  Eureka!  The Flora Collection was born.  The first design of the collection was created as a prototype for a California bride with a “Woodlands” theme for her wedding.  Since we were incorporating pearls in woodrose, grays and ice blue I was inspired by the pussywillows we used to pick as a harbinger of spring in the woods in Massachusetts.


Since Mother Nature is really the best designer – it was easy to be inspired by all the stunning variations of her handiwork.  Hubby and I spent so many summers on Nantucket, where hydrangeas are profuse, that their gorgeous spectrum of colors became the next point of inspiration for this new collection.  This stunning rainbow of colors - pale green, blues, pinks and violets was wonderfully simple to replicate into this new design.

     The third necklace of this new collection was inspired by the sea and has been aptly named “Les Fleurs de la Mer” (Flower of the Sea).  A gorgeous collection of freshwater pearls, seed pearls and petal pearls are mixed with a sprinkling of dainty little aquamarine beads, culminating with a most spectacular moss aquamarine pendant.   My little folder of inspirations is just bulging with new ideas for this Flora collection.  Hopefully, I can make up enough floral inspired designs to create a gorgeous bouquet of flowers!

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Social Networking and Six Degrees of Separation – Sort Of!

Aug 02 2009
I have been an avid fan of an interior design blog site called Cote de Texas for over a year now.  It is an informative as well as humorous missive about an interior designer from Houston named Joni, and her wonderful connections, discoveries, trials & tribulations.  To say that I am addicted to reading it daily is at best. . .  a kind comment.  Joni is a truly dedicated blogger (unlike me) who has even been know to sit in her car during hurricanes so she can plug in her laptop for power and blog away!  Now that’s real dedication!  

To my delight, her post over the week-end was regarding her attendance at an event in Houston where she met the world renowned designer, Bunny Williams.  It seems Bunny was in town during a launch of her newest line of furniture - BeeLine Home.  Joni’s accounting of  this lovely event was really adorable and funny - especially the saga of her “stalker” buddies and the ever popular – must have – ginormous handbag (I can relate to this myself)!


A portion of Joni’s blog showcased a very unusual accessory from the BeeLine Home that immediately sent off whistles and bells for me.  Bunny’s adaptation is called a “Vanity Tower”.  The function, as explained by Joni, is to secret away rolls of toilet paper.  Here is where the six degrees of separation begins.

  Early in my interior design career in the Boston area, I had a shop called Necessities which carried an assortment of home furnishings, gifts and antiques.  One of the most endearing and prized objects I purchased during this time, was an adorable pair of reeded antique columns with charming little scalloped shelves.  They were a pretty shade of green and just the right height to display all the dainty little Limoges boxes we carried.  Naturally, I have no memory of the provenance of these little columns but, suffice to say, they looked as though they were handmade and were quite old.  When I decided to move my design office to Newbury Street and close up the shop years later, I sadly parted with the little columns and they found a new home.   During the time I had the shop, I was asked to participate in a fund raising event at the Ritz Carlton (the original one across from the Public Gardens – since sold and now known as The Taj) for the Boys & Girls Club of Boston.  The theme of the event was “The Power of Style”.  Each designer was paired up with a “style icon” and was asked to produce a tablescape honoring them.  I was chosen to create a table as a tribute to Sister Parish (ostensibly know as the doyenne of American decorating) due in part to my “no fear” use of colors.  

Since Sister Parish was widely known for not only her brave use of colors as well as all things cozy and comfortable (including her penchant for inserting floral print fabrics and American hand made quilts into many designs), I decided that my table would be named “Lunch at Dark Harbor”.  Dark Harbor was the name of the house Sister Parish owned in Islesboro, Maine and where she had passed away the previous year. 


My tribute to Sister Parish consisted of a luscious floral linen tablecloth from Brunschwig & Fils and of course the ever present quilt.  Additionally, a grouping of charming little handmade ceramic houses created the centerpiece and handmade (by me!) grass and garden critters encrusted chargers complimented the colorful majolica oyster plates.

  Years later when my design office was securely ensconced on Newbury Street, I decided to do a massive renovation to our home in Andover.  Those little antique reeded columns were still on my mind and I really cursed myself for letting someone else adopt them!  Clearly, I could not call up the buyer and ask to purchase them back so. . . I did the next best thing.  Completely from memory and old photos of my shop, I had the little columns reproduced and installed as a design element in my gorgeous new kitchen.  I was a very happy camper. After suffering through the massive renovation for over 6 months, I thought was finally going to able to enjoy the fruits of my labor and hubby was hoping for some long awaited home cooked meals!  The paint had barely dried on the walls when we found out we were being transferred to Arizona!  Rats! Foiled again. . .someone else would now be enjoying my gorgeous home including my charming little column shelves! Now here is the irony - I once had a pair of antique reeded columns that appeared to be a handmade – one of a kind pair – purchased in Maine.  I was chosen to create a tablescape tribute to Sister Parish’s Dark Harbour home.  Bunny’s connection to Sister Parish was as her employee.   I was astonished when I saw the charming little columns (so similar to the original antiques) reproduced by Bunny’s Williams BeeLine Home while reading Joni’s Cote de Texas blog.   Gee, maybe I should ask the buyer of the antique columns if I can purchase them from her again. . .who knows. . .maybe, just maybe, they actually came from the Sister Parish estate (not so far from Boston)!

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The Right Place at the Right Time

Aug 02 2009



I have spent the last two years as 2007 President-Elect and 2008 President of the Arizona Chapter of IFDA (International Furnishings and Design Association).  Those two years were an obligation that I felt deserved my full attention and as a result, I made the decision to put my jewelry designs on the back burner for the duration. With the new IFDA President taking over responsibilities in January of 2009, I gave myself permission to forge ahead with the marketing of my jewelry company and made the decision to become a client of the Martz Agency here in Scottsdale.  My liasion at the Martz Agency is an adorable gal named Jennifer whom I have worked with in the past while I was President of the IFDA Arizona Chapter.  Jennifer recently received an inquiry about some jewelry that was needed for a photo shoot and she submitted some photos from my line that matched up with the outlined criteria.  Eureka!  They liked several of the pieces and I was told to bring them in for the photo shoot.   Now, even with my extensive experience as an interior designer and the press – I knew that this was not a sure bet.  Magazines, television, etc. are often fickle – changing their requests at the last minute and sometimes leaving the poor designers as collateral damage even though they have jumped through hoops of fire to accommodate the media.  This time it was a case of being at the right place at the right time!  Two designs from my line were included in the April issue of AZ Society – a peridot and citrine necklace and some turquoise, kyanite, sky blue topaz and labradorite earrings. I could not be more thrilled since this was my first “official” foray into the world of PR & Marketing since creating this jewelry line.  Maybe it was just beginner’s luck.  I think it was the fact that the items we submitted were carefully culled to meet the criteria set out by the magazine and the professionalism of Jennifer at the Martz Agency.  Let’s hope lightening really can strike twice! 

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A Turquoise Lesson from History

Aug 01 2009

When I was five years old my mother suddenly passed away at the young age of 29.  There are very few of her possessions that I have and now that I am an adult, I realize why.  At such a young age, she simply had not enough time to acquire meaningful treasures to pass on to me.  Be that as it may, of the few possessions I have from her, one of them is a simple little ring of oval turquoise stones set in sterling.  Although I have always cherished the ring and have never altered the design, I can honestly say that I have never been a fan of turquoise set in silver.  I believe it lacks warmth and elegance. 

On the other hand, as a designer, I have always been enamored with the turquoise/aqua family and it is scattered all over my home.  One of my collecting passions is Sevres Blue.  Additionally, I have had entire rooms in my home that were designed around the aqua blue family.  It is a very calming and restful color to me.  I still hold onto the theory that everyone looks tan when surrounded by aqua (even though it may be February when we are at our most pasty white)! 

As I studied my little Sevres blue collection, I came to realize that historically, it was always trimmed and banded in gold.  Apparently, I am not the only person that thinks the gold brings out the richness of the color and counterbalances the coolness of aqua and turquoise.


While researching some images for this post, I stumbled across two unusual blog sites called “House of Turquoise” and “Everything Turquoise” with some of the most divine images of all ranges of turquoise – what an inspiration!  Who knew!  Erin, thank you for allowing me to “borrow” a bit of inspiration for this post. 

At the Tucson gem Show recently, I came across some wonderful Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, purchased it and promptly set it aside for later.  Later came sooner than I thought.  I received a call from the agency that is handling some of my PR that a local magazine was looking for some turquoise jewelry set in gold for a photo shoot.  Needless to say, it jogged my memory and an entire weekend was devoted to creating an earthy but elegant - lovely turquoise necklace and earrings set in 24K gold vermeil.   Since I had design carte blanche with this set, I indulged my senses by mixing the elegant Sleeping Beauty Turquoise with little frills of gorgeous Capri blue Kyanite, soft Sky Blue Topaz and a heavy dose of mesmerizing blue flash Labradorite.  Of course, the piece de resistance of the necklace is the free form turquoise slice encased in 24k gold.   


Just as the Sevres blue collection lives happily in my home with a more relaxed atmosphere – the chic turquoise and gold of this jewelry design can live contentedly with either a ball gown or a blue jean skirt.

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Lesson of the Week: Don’t Fool With Mother Nature (or the Queen Bee)

Aug 01 2009
Things had been going rather smoothly after the holidays and it seemed like a good week to begin some new jewelry designs for the spring.  Over the week-end, I began putting together the blueprint of a new necklace that was intended as a little “thank you” for a friend.  Dana had requested something clear, black and/or grey and I was thrilled to finally have the chance to use some of the gorgeous tourmilated quartz gemstones I had acquired at the last Tucson Gem Show.   On Monday, our pest control company was attending a colony of bees that had been making a home in the facade wall of our garage.  This visit was round two of three and involved the application of a neurotoxin for the bees that would render the hive inactive.  Visit three was planned to remove the honeycomb after the bees were killed in order to keep another hive from becoming attracted by the pheromones of the first honeycomb.  Obviously, the bee specialist was very knowledgeable in his science as well as the culture of the bees.  Monday came and went with nothing unusual except for a few quiet hours that were spent uninterrupted – allowing me to complete Dana’s beautiful necklace of rock crystal, black onyx and unique tourmilated onion briolettes peppered with black straws.  Tuesday was spent running errands in the morning and working on the computer late into the afternoon and early evening.  Just before dinnertime, I looked up from the computer after hearing a strange noise only to realize there was a bee in my office buzzing around.  I called Olivia & Asher (my King Charles Cavaliers) out of the room and closed the door.  As we moved closer to the kitchen, I could see that not only were there at least a dozen bees circling the lights in our 12’ ceiling but another dozen or so had landed on the floor and were buzzing around there as well.  With no door to close, it was “retreat #2” for us and off to the Master Bedroom we went.  Apparently, the bees had not discovered that area just yet.   After a quick call to my hubby to inform him we would be staying at a hotel that night, another call to the bee specialist and gathering up our necessities, we took off for “retreat #3” – the local Residence Inn.  So far, the bees seemed to be winning the war!  Wednesday morning I met the bee specialist and dressed in a full bee suit, he applied yet another application and warned me that we might want to stay at the hotel another night just to be safe.  According to the specialist, Thursday morning was determined as the date and time we would have won the war of the bees.  On Thursday morning, I entered the house very quietly to make certain I was not hearing the hum of the bees as they circled the rooms looking for a hostage.  All was quiet and I felt relieved that we might be able to finally check out of the hotel and come home again. Much to my shock, when I entered the Kitchen and Family Room I was confronted by not just a dozen or two dead bees. . . but more than 100+.  Needless to say, all day Thursday was spent cleaning up bees and listening for their return.  After all, we had executed their Queen and the little workers had no one to give them orders in addition to being poisoned.   In retrospect, I should probably have called out a beekeeper when I was informed by the specialist that the bees in my facade were “just Honey Bees – not Killer Bees”.  But, living in Arizona, all bees are guilty until proven innocent and I suspect have gotten a bad rap from their gang member cousins – the “Killer Bees”.  Lesson learned – don’t fool with Mother Nature or the Queen Bee!

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Lilac Love – Lilac Amethyst, Prehnite, Scapiolite and Cupid’s Vintage Locket

Aug 01 2009


 I have an Italian reference book that I obtained early in my career as an interior designer called Soffitti Della Fantasia. Within that book are some of the most magnificent historic ceilings painted by master artists from all over Europe. A recurrent theme in many of these extraordinary painted ceilings are the little Cupids/angels or putti; pudgy little child-like figures with sweet faces that add a certain charm and levity to an otherwise overly ambitious work of art. 
During my travels, I came upon this charming little vintage locket replete with the pudgy little cherub and just could not resist. It was as if he was telling me to take him home and ensconce him back into a lovely piece of jewelry. . . and so I did! The Monet watercolor palette found in the soft lilac amethyst, watery aqua quartz , pale mossy prehnite and gentle morning sun Scapiolite creates a stunning design worthy of such an endearing little Cupid. 26” long with a 6” frilled drop.

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Beloved Generations – Green Amethyst Nuggets, Tourmaline & Antique Locket Necklace

Aug 01 2009


Whenever I am fortunate enough to find a pretty locket with a family of old photos, it is a bittersweet discovery to know that the history of entire generations has either been given away or possibly sold during a period of hard times. Such was the case when I located this precious antique locket preserved with family photos of a young girl and what appear to be her mother and father. My mind wanders to the circumstances that led to the locket eventually ending up with an antique dealer - for sale, to the person that will pay a pittance for such a rich legacy.

The Beloved Generations necklace is composed of Alexandrite colored green amethyst nuggets and rondelles that culminate in a “frill” of multicolored tourmaline rondelles and a single watermelon tourmaline slice - highlighting the sweet memory of a locket from a bygone era. The antique gold filled locket provides its own provenance with original hand colored photos more than likely from the Victorian Era. The necklace portion measures 26” with a generous “frill” and feature watermelon slice bead more than 2” long before it culminates at the lovely old locket. The total drop of the frill & locket measures 5” long. 


With a historic pedigree, the Beloved Generations necklace was inspired by a room I designed for the Junior League of Boston’s Silver Anniversary Showhouse – another home with pedigree, the Michael Curley Estate in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. Michael Curley was the very controversial multi-term mayor of Boston with a bit of a “Robin Hood Syndrome”. He succinctly thumbed his nose at the Boston Brahmins when the Curley estate was built, by adding shamrock shutters to the house.
In a nod to the historic background of the Curley home, where very famous and some infamous personalities visited – the upstairs great room was dubbed “The Ambassador’s Club” with acknowledgement to the Curley legacy. This formal yet lighthearted great room space had formerly been two bedrooms in the family home. The rich, clear colors of the room as well as the chenille “Fleur de Lis” sofas were selected for their durability and comfort, as well as their cheeky comment to the capricious diplomatic wallpaper.

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