Thursday, April 28, 2011

Upper Deer Trail in Forest Heights

{My Sister S and Nephew B on the trail}
One of the highlights of my trip was hiking in Audubon Sanctuary, an amazing forest preserve within the Portland city boundaries with stands of old growth Douglas Fir, Hemlock and Western Red Cedar. Portland, Oregon is a city in love with trails and green spaces.

{roads and cul-de-sacs in white, the trails are the dotted black lines}
You expect great hiking in a forest preserve, but in my sister's neighborhood there are great trails just out the front door. She lives in the Forest Heights, a 601 acre area developed in 1989, where one third of the space is dedicated to public green space and parks. The six miles of  trails in the development mostly follow the low creek beds that flow in the valleys of the steep hillsides.

{to the pond of the old Jones Lumber mill}
The area, like most of Portland, was logged of it's old growth timber in the mid-1800's. The old "Mill Pond" for the past logging operations is down this path right behind my sister's house.
{Portland home construction- crazy!}
Most of the homes, since they are built into hillsides, are tidy one or two stories from the street. But in the back the basements are often built stories down, and may are built on high piers. This is a view of the back of one of them from the trail.
{fern land}
My favorite trail in the neighborhood is the upper part of the "Deer Trail". Steps away from the houses, it's just another world. The banks are extremely steep and the trees are romantically cloaked in green moss.
The most restful sound- a creek joyfully spilling down the slope.

 How beautiful are these yellow woodland violets?


Or this trillium?

{upper Deer Trail}
This trail was amazingly serene, with just glimpses of all the houses crowding the tops of the hills on both sides of the steep ravine.

And once the trees leaf out, you will not see any homes from the trail at all, and it will be even more magical.  I'm glad to be home, but I'm already planning my next trip to Portland! 


Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter in Portland, Oregon!

{my primrose brownie bites}
I had the pleasure of jetting off solo from New York to Portland, Oregon to spend part of Spring Break and Easter with my sister S and her family. They just purchased a gorgeous new home, and our Easter feast included these brownie bites I made topped with marshmallow fondant flowers.

{a little buttercream holds the fondant in place}
Homemade marshmallow fondant is so easy to make- and molding it reminds me of playing with Play-doh. It tastes so much better than commercial fondant!

{Portland Spring drizzle outside the windows}

A nice way to spend Easter morning making the little flowers. I was inspired by the colors of Spring primroses.  Husband took my kids down to his parents in Westchester county, New York and we kept in touch everyday by phone. The big excitement was their Easter egg hunt where crows did much of the hunting. (Lesson: Don't hide eggs too early)

{too cute!}
Our Portland egg hunt went much better. It was a huge Saturday gathering for all the kids in the Forest Heights neighborhood. Here's my Nephew J hunting eggs...

{got one!}
...and little Nephew B! I'll post more Portland photos as the week goes on.

How did you spend the holiday? 


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Escher in the Berkshires (& My Mom!)

{Day to Night, M.C. Escher}

Since my husband teaches Math at a local high school, the whole family is enjoying a Spring Break. Last Monday we took a road trip to Pittsfield, Massachusetts to see an exhibit on M.C. Escher. My Mom was out of town and couldn't come with us, but she was still "there" as you'll see later in this post...

{Son H outside the museum}

Escher was a Dutch artist known for his amazing art based on geometry and tiling. (See the cool lizard tessellation on the sign above.) The Exhibit is at the Berkshire Museum through May 22 and titled "M.C. Escher: Seeing The Unseen."
{Sky and Water I: M.C. Escher, source All rights reserved. }
The exhibit was fun - and a little hard on the eyes with all the intricate imagery to look at! Here's one of my favorite woodblock prints. Too clever!
{Doris Schattschneider's book Escher: Visions of Symmetry}
So how do I fit my Mom in here? See this book on Escher held by Rosie?

{in the foreword of the book}
My talented Mom, Anne Fontaine is a mathematician with her doctorate in tiling theory. She was one of the folks who reviewed this book of Escher's work. How fun is it to search out your Mom's name in a book in the museum gift shop?

{heading home}
A great way to spend an overcast Spring day in the Berkshires. We may even try to make some Escher-style tessellations at home!


p.s. remember how I used an Escher font to design my blog logo?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Empty Cupcake Bus

{1963 Bristol Lodeka Double Decker bus from London}
A fun sight around Albany and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. is "Dee Dee", short for "Double Decker" and an apt name for this converted pink British bus.  It's a rolling extension of Bettie's Cakes, Lorraine Murphy's sweet retro shop on Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

{doors closed}
I found Dee Dee parked near Academy Road in Albany. If you want to find the location of the bus, visit and a link will map out her location at the moment.

Sadly, at the moment this photo was taken, the doors were closed, nobody home and no cupcakes served. I promise to track Dee Dee down another day and snap some pics of the inside!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Turquoise, diaNoche and the Sahara

{beads are about the size of a dime each - hand-faceted natural Arizona turquoise with no dyes or stabilizers}
When I saw this strand of turquoise beads in New York City last month I though of Veronica El-Showk, who writes the beautifully written blog diaNoche Living.

I had to buy these stunning blue beauties! They fit right in with the Spring and Summer fashion trends Veronica has been writing about recently...
{a diaNoche mood board showing Nile Blue as one of the swatches. From left to right:  Roberto Cavalli, Oracle Fox. }

Veronica posts on art, fashion, travel and interior design. Her latest posts have info she gleaned from a recent fashion trade show in Las Vegas on color forecasts for Spring and Summer '11 and '12. Here's an snip from diaNoche Living on the trend "Romantic and Adventurous Bohemian":

"...Think: Skin, suede, all about detail with a little bit of shine, animal print, safari animal, military detail with a pop of color, soft sand pink, peachy nudes, aqua sanded blues, beaded crochet, long, layered, dramatic, ethnic patterns, with wood, bone and metallic details..."

Blue in varying hues show up all over the upcoming Spring and Summer trends as a wonderful accent shade. Adore the pop of the blue necklace on the model wearing the white dress on the diaNoche mood board above!
{diaNoche Casablanca shirt with matte gold silkscreen print}

Veronica introduced diaNoche's apparel line recently, and here's one of her beautifully made shirts. Veronica and her husband Hedeer are world travelers, and there is a strong arabesque influence in her work as well as influence from her Colombian heritage. Look at the beautiful faceted details in the print on the shirt. They are so similar to the faceted shapes of my beads! I love it!

...Now, I have a confession to make. I used to subscribe to all the fashion magazines. I work in a fashion business, after all. But two years ago I let all the subscriptions drop. I enjoy fashion, but the magazines never made me feel uplifted, happy or inspired. 

They always left me feeling a bit sad. I can't put my finger on it exactly. The constant self-help and plastic surgery articles? Pouty underage models in layouts where I couldn't really see the clothing?  Pretty images that seemed vapid once I put the magazine down?
{The beautiful Veronica surrounded by the sands of the Sahara, Morocco}
It's blogs like diaNoche Living that have made me fall in love all over with fashion again. There is a passion and authenticity in Veronica's blog that I found lacking in the magazines. I'm inspired again.

Here's a  quote from Veronica's post "Sahara Sunset", one of my favorites:

"Because there is zero humidity [the Sahara sand] skims off  your skin and gives way to any form of weight or pressure.  It is simultaneously heavy and light and moody during sunset.  At first you find yourself in a sea of  Aperol that intensifies by the minute and then before you know it, it cools down to a soft pink that gives the scarce shrubs a silver hue.  Once the sun has dipped below the horizon, the grey sky turns the sand a gentle neutral amber color..."

Too dreamy! I will be sure to show what I dream up with my turquoise beads, soon. And, take the time to see Veronica's full line of clothing here!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jackson Heights, The Most Diverse Neighborhood in NYC

Wanda at The Black Dress Traveler often posts her NYC picks for the upcoming weekend. Her choice of a Indian walking and tasting tour of Jackson Heights this Sunday gives me a great excuse to share more of my NYC trip pics...

Let's head to Jackson Heights, Queens, the most diverse neighborhood in all New York City...
{5th Ave to Queens}
I stayed in Jackson Heights with my sister-in-law, Italian brother-in-law and my wonderful little niece and nephew while I was at my jewelry conference. It's an E or F train out of Manhattan. The subway travels under the East River. (Always amazed a river is flowing above me!)

{a great time to sit and relax on the train in the evening, but prepare to stand during morning rush!}

{37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens}
The streets of Jackson Heights are so much fun to stroll, listening to neighbors speaking thirty different languages. Two-thirds of Jackson Heights residents are born abroad.

{evening at the Trade Fair grocery}
Open-air displays of fruits and veggies. You can choose from not one, but many different types of oranges. I chose some tiny sweet ones for breakfast the next day.
{the good buys}
 My Puerto Rican mother-in-law always finds the produce so much cheaper in Queens then where she lives in Westchester County!
{I would have explored every aisle if I had more time}
So many different types of ethnic foods in the grocery stores. Are these corn and cheese cakes? Let me know if you know what "arepas" are...

{shop filled with colorful Indian Saris}
Those in-the-know head out of Manhattan (including my clothing designer friend Antoinette) to dine in Jackson Height's well-regarded Indian restaurants. You'll also find more amazing South Asian restaurants (Nepalese, Himalayan...) as well as distinct Latin American eateries and street carts representing Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, El Salvador, and Mexico.

Here's the full scoop on The Black Dress Traveler's weekend pick:

Indian Culinary Center: Jackson Heights Walking & Tasting Tour
Sunday, April 10. 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM. $40
Explore the culinary delights of Jackson Heights with Geetika Khanna, founder of the Indian Culinary Center. Start your day with an authentic Indian breakfast with Masala chai and then visit stores that sell gold jewelry, saris and music. Stock up on exotic ingredients at a large Indian grocery store and get great deals on spices, veggies, and snacks. The adventure ends with a traditional Indian lunch. 

Next week we'll head off the bustling commercial streets of Roosevelt Ave and 37th Street to the quieter residential 35th Street. I'll show you the stately architecture of Jackson Height's pre-war brick garden co-op apartments in Jackson Heights: Part II!

Have you been to Queens? Tell me about it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My book - with a problem...

Remember when I was ordering a book to bring down to New York City as a little press kit? 

Here it is! Overall it looked great, except for one problem which I'll get to at the end of the post. And I'll introduce you to my new friend Calla - who REALLY had a great book when I met her!

I got the idea of printing a book from Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home. (See Lauren's post on her portfolio book here. )

Isn't a little book the best? The images and captions came out great, and it was so convenient to have the book to hand to people at the conference so they could see the jewelry I made. I got so many nice compliments on it!

One of my favorite pages was in the back that highlighted some of my "press hits" - lingo for when my jewelry has shown up in the media. Wouldn't you know I met the author of one of those books that featured my jewelry in NYC that weekend!

{bad text}
So what was a problem with the book? I used their online software to design the book, which was fairly easy. I previewed everything carefully. But when I got my printed book in the mail - on the first page - a paragraph of text got formatted all screwy and part of the paragraph got completely chopped off!

Can you call a real person to discuss customer service with No, no phone number given. I had to email. Let's see if they can fix this for me - I hope!

{Calla Gold and me at the MJSA Expo NYC}
And here's my new friend Calla Gold. She's an amazing private jeweler, and yes, that's her real name - her career must have been destiny. She brought with her a hardcover book  "The Language of Jewelry Design by Calla Gold"

This is the amazing thing - you can go to Calla's website and download the e-book version for free, or use to order a book yourself! Brilliant! Not only does allow you to print a book, but you can publish it as well!


p.s If I did another book on , I'd skip the online software and submit my own .pdf files to have more control over the finished pages. Remember how Lauren was a little disappointed in how her greens printed? I had a similar problem with how some of my whites printed. Probably no one noticed this but me, but when you are a designer, you just want everything to be perfect!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wishes For Charlie: An interview with Sarah from La Maison Boheme

Our dear friend and blogger Sarah Greenman of  La Maison Boheme has a beautiful eight month old boy Charlie who will be having cranio-surgery soon.  Charlie suffered a stroke in-utero and is on a healing path with great strides but a lifetime to go.

 I've asked Sarah some questions about this blessed and challenging time in her life.

Where does love fall in this journey?
Sarah: It falls everywhere.  It falls all around us.  The only reason Charlie is here is because I loved someone.  He is an embodiment of LOVE in all its forms.  And, while I'm not a religious person, I believe that he is healing because of the enormous out pouring of love that is swirling around him.  The doctors don't know why he's getting better.  They don't know why he had the stroke or the skull fuse and they can't explain why he isn't more "affected"... but I think its love. 

What are your wishes for Charlie's surgery?
I am so pleased with the care he has received so far.  Dr. Fearon is really wonderful on all kinds of levels.  I want this surgery to go smoothly and for it to be 100% effective so that we don't have to go back in next year and repeat the surgery.  

What have you learned from your sons?
Oh this is a hard one... so many things.  I've learned that I take myself and my work too seriously.  I've learned that there is a deep well of joy in every living creature, and that this joy must be nurtured in order to be revealed.  I've learned that my husband and I are even more perfectly matched that I suspected.  I've learned that the only proper response to hardship is to embrace it, listen to it and create a space for its transformation.

{A powerful paintbrush}
How can you help? Sarah is asking for prayers and good wishes. Big Brother Walker has put his artwork on greeting cards on the Help Charlie Heal shop on Etsy to help his adored little brother. And you can make a direct contribution at

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Eaton Pottery - Happiness in Clay

{I would buy a swimsuit like this...}
 Doesn't this little handmade tray make you smile? It's made by Beth Eaton of Eaton Pottery. Beth's sister Meredith is holding it (and smiling).

{Happiness in Clay}
Another adorable Eaton Pottery mug. So cheerful and happy. Makes me want to learn to drink morning coffee!

I snapped these pics yesterday at the Fourth Annual Spring Craft Show at The Woman's Club in Albany, N.Y.  Today, Saturday, April 2 is the last day. You'll find Beth's pottery, my jewelry and the work of bunch of other artists there.

...and Meredith is heading the volunteer cafe. The food is YUMMY and all for a good cause! (proceeds to The Woman's Club and Hope In A Boat, the Capital Region's Breast Cancer Survivor's Dragonboat Team).


Friday, April 1, 2011

A Purple Tint

{Mabel necklace and Lucy earrings on the bench..}
For Spring I am enamored with the color lavender. I tinted some of my black and white photographs lavender and love the look. Here are some jewelry pieces in progress.

I finished them up for the Fourth Annual Spring Crafts Show in Albany this Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2. The April Fool's joke was that is was snowing this morning! I hope the jokes end there.