Friday, December 28, 2012

A Bit Of Handmade...

{needle and thread}
 A bit of embellishment on a beautiful thrift shop dress for my wonderful Niece A...

{My niece picked her favorite embroidery floss colors - purple and pink!}
 The strawberry applique was from a two-piece baby outfit I wore as a kid. The ice cream cone fabric is a scrap from a pair of Son H's old shorts, and the purple and white stripe "ice cream" is fabric salvaged from a shirt worn by both Evie and Rosie. And before that the same shirt was worn by my cousin's daughter...

So much fun to find some time to make something special!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

{Reindeer illustration by Gyo Fujikawa}
Merry Christmas! I am awaiting the gifts, gazing at the lit Christmas tree, the meals shared with family... It's such a wonderful time of year. May the peace and wonderment of the holiday season wrap you up in joy.

{The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa}
One holiday tradition we have in our house is wrapping up 24 Christmas books in newspaper and placing them under the tree December 1. (Yes, we get the tree up right after Thanksgiving!) I save last year's Christmas cards and tape a card to the top of each news-print wrapped book. So it all looks super-festive, but the book wrapping carefully reuses what we already have.

 Every night we unwrap and read one. The Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer book is the biggest, so that's usually known and opened first, but the rest are in disguise under the newspaper wrapping and we only know what we get once it's opened. Three of the books (like Jingle Bells) are simply the song lyrics with illustrations, so when we open those three Chrsitmas books, we get to sing them!

I adore the illustrations in these Christmas books, and many of them are vintage books. One of my favorites is a vintage version of The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.

{illustration by Gyo Fujikawa}
I know some folks love the wonderful 1998 Jan Brett version of The Night Before Christmas- and if you have been to nearby Stockbridge, Massachusetts, you'll see all the local landmarks in the town including the Red Lion Inn! But I am smitten with this vintage version of The Night Before Christmas and the delicate reindeer drawn by Gyo Fujikawa.

Ms. Fujikawa passed away at 90 in 1998, and was one of the first popular illustrators to include children of all different races in her illustrations.

What is you favorite book of the season? 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thank You!

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to my open studio this month... My friend Liz Vigoda (amazing ceramics!) and I hold this event once a year during the holidays at her home/studio, and we were able to make a very generous gift to the victims of Hurricane Sandy from proceeds of the sale.

It was so nice to see everyone who stopped by, and to be part of the fun of picking out the "perfect" holiday presents was so rewarding... Not to mention helping people pick the perfect piece of jewelry for themselves, too! It makes all the hard work worthwhile.

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver necklace on a piece of Liz Vigoda Pottery}
This year at our  Delmar Holiday Open Studios I purchased a new handcrafted black and white pottery plate from Liz - it will look perfect displayed in my living room once the new blue/gray paint goes up on the walls.

Once again, THANK YOU for everyone who came out and made the event a wonderful success!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Open Studios Sale This Weekend and Sandy Relief

{our poster and postcard design!}
 I cannot believe how December flies by. It seems like yesterday I was working on the postcard and poster design for this sale, and now the sale is tomorrow!

Are you in the Albany, New York area? You should stop by the sale - it's our fourth annual Holiday Delmar Open Studios - and it's this weekend Saturday December 8 and Sunday December 9 from 10am - 5pm. We hold the sale at my friend Liz's Vigoda's studio/home in Delmar, New York, and Liz and I have been updating information on the sale on our website ( and Facebook page (

{one-of-a-kind hand-built ceramics by Liz Vigoda}
Liz is a dear friend and creates the most unbelievably gorgeous ceramics and I can't wait to see what new pieces she's made. All her pieces are hand-built and one-of-a-kind, so many folks arrive as early in the weekend as they can to choose from the best selection. I'm spending my day finishing some new pieces of jewelry for the sale.
{custom Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver Maria ring}
This will be the last weekend to order any custom photo jewelry pieces for the holidays. I always have a bunch of these very special custom orders on my bench this time of year. This charming little pup on the photo is on the ring is named Domino!

{New! Loretta Fontaine blank recycled paper notecards}

..and brand new this year are my blank recycled notecards I had printed on recycled paper - all with images from my new book, Eco-Happy: Three Steps Towards An  Earth-friendly Life. I am SO pleased with how they came out and the quality of the cards.

Liz and I have decided to donate 10% of our sales to Hurricane Sandy Relief. Our area in New York was mostly spared from damage, but we know many others in the Northeast that have been affected by this tragic storm. My husband's family is in the New York City/New Jersey area and they were hard hit. Liz will donate to the Red Cross and I am writing a check to a downstate Long Island Habitat For Humanity chapter.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving From Our Family!

{In my parent's yard, turkey waiting for us inside...}

Happy Thanksgiving!

Right before we sat down to eat, I took some photos of my sister's family for her Christmas card, and then asked Uncle R to snap a photo of our family.

Were there 22 seated at the two tables? (My parents set a classic kid's table in the living room with a folding aluminum table and the piano bench pinch hitting for seating.) Or was it more? Anyway, a great meal and many more cousins and an Uncle joining us later in the day.

How was your Thanksgiving?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tasty Beets and The Produce Project

I've had a booth selling my jewelry, photography and notecards at the Delmar Indoor Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings this season, and one of my booth neighbors is Capital District Community Gardens' Produce Project. 

{myself, Hannah and some gorgeous beets - see what I made in them at the end of this post!}
Hannah Savio is one of the staff on the Produce Project, a year-round training program at Troy High School. Students are employed and earn school credit at a really cool 2.5 acre urban farm and greenhouses in Troy. Hannah let me interview her on what The Produce Project means to her.

How did you get involved in Capital District Community Gardens' Produce Project?
I grew up in a rural community with a large garden in the backyard.  Working in the garden as a young person, I assumed that everyone got to (or had to) experience the challenges of growing their own food.  Moving away from home I realized how untrue that was and how amazing the opportunities I had were, so I graduated from college with copious student loans and a desire to teach young people about where their food comes from.  As an AmeriCorps*VISTA () with the Produce Project, I could work on both of those things at the same time.  Now that my AmeriCorps service term is complete, I am lucky to continue on with the Produce Project as the Farmer!

What's your favorite vegetable to grow, and why?
I enjoy growing carrots.  Growing carrots takes more patience than other crops because they are slow to germinate and you can’t watch the majority of their growth.  As with other root crops, not being able to see and track their growth adds excitement and requires a certain faith in the plants.  About 60 days after planting, you find out how well it worked!  We grow carrots outdoors in the warm seasons and in the high tunnel in the winter.  This year we are experimenting with overwintering some carrots – they are planted outdoors and will hopefully remain cozy and dormant under some nice snowfall this winter, resuming their growth in the spring for an early harvest!

{Troy High School student Cassandra at the market}
What's the most important lesson you teach the kids?
With a vested interest in the program, I hope that every moment our students spend at the Produce Project is a productive one, but our project’s unique strength lies is teaching them how to grow their own food.  As urban youth, the students we work with generally come into the program with little knowledge of how and where their food comes from.  I hope that teaching gardening skills and fostering their importance will encourage them to think about the origins of their daily meals and ideally to grow their own food in the future.  With basic farming skills under their belts, our students will be able to make their own informed decisions about what to eat with the opportunity and ability to operate outside of the commercial food system and grow their own food.

What else would you like others to know about the Produce Project?
We grow food year-round! Using two high tunnels (unheated greenhouses), we can grow produce throughout the winter.  Winter growth is slow (the low angle of the sun means the plants have trouble gathering enough energy to grow), but what we harvest and sell is incredibly fresh! During the winter, you can try our produce at various local restaurants (in Troy at The Hungry Fish Café and Jose Malone’s, and in Cohoes at the Dali Mamma Café) or at the Delmar Indoor Farmers Market.  During the summer we also have a farm stand right on 8th street in Troy on Tuesday evenings – check out where we grow and bring home some produce!

...and here's what I made with my Produce Project beets - a pizza! Delicious, and I had it all to myself as beets are the one veggie my husband does not like. He likes all the other veggies, so I'll pick something up for him next week!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Frost and the Tough Swiss Chard

{ice-covered oak leaves in the grass}
 We'll get our first frost in October here near Albany, New York. I think we had one hard frost day last month - and I covered the veggie garden up in tarps and towels to protect some of the plants...

{ice on the car windshield}
 But in November, it dips below freezing hereso often that I give up the tarps and let the garden freeze over.
{dead, dead, dead}
 The tomatoes vines look like this, and I've potted up a tall rosemary plant and hot pepper plant to sit on the windowsill so they don't meet the same brown, shriveled fate.

{Bright Lights Swiss Chard}

But the swiss chard will keep going...

{my little toughie}
... and keep going! So many people think this plant acts like spinach. But swiss chard is in the beet family, and so much hardier in hot and cold. Unlike spinach, it has a big, thick taproot to draw energy from.

Swiss chard doesn't bolt and go to seed in the hot summer sun, and it holds up to the cold better than anything else I've planted. With that big taproot, you can cut swiss chard down and it resprouts new leaves beautifully. So when I titled this post I'm saying swiss chard isn't "tough" as in hard to chew - but "tough" as in tough as nails. I may even get to harvest more this month...


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Interview for Craft Show This Fri & Sat

{Love this giant Earth beach ball!}
I will be at the Holiday Craft Show at The Woman's Club of Albany this Friday from 5pm-9pm and Saturday from 10am-4pm. If you are in the Albany, New York area, please come by and say hello!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween and A Ghostly Sighting...

Hmmm... When I snapped a photo of the pumpkins my kids carved last night a ghostly image appeared on the left... Should I be afraid tonight?

Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Which Photograph For My New Book Do You Like Best?

{Two Trees by Loretta Fontaine, Portland Oregon 2012}
 Sometimes I think it's even harder to choose the photography for my new book "Eco-Happy- Three Steps Towards an Earth-Friendly Life" than it was to write the book! I am going through hundreds of photographs I took over many, many years searching for the pictures that will give the book the right nuance, the right emotion. This photograph above of the bark on a tree (with the out-of-focus tree behind it to the right - love that!) is a favorite image I think may make the final cut.

{untitled photograph #1 by Loretta Fontaine, Portland Oregon 2012}

{untitled photograph #2 by Loretta Fontaine, Portland Oregon 2012}
Now, which of these two photographs do you like best? It was April in Portland, and the buds are of a tulip tree. I can't decide which photograph to use. The more closely cropped untitled photograph #2 shows off the balletic nature of the new unfurling leaves, but the twisting and turning of the branches in the untitled photograph #1 are beautiful also...


Friday, October 19, 2012

Goodbye Garden Tomatoes...

We had a hard frost last week here in New York - so goodbye garden tomatoes. I'm posting a photo of our tomatoes I took a month ago - to post a photo of the brown, withered vines in the garden would be too sad!

We grew an heirloom tomato with pink skin (can you see the color in the photograph?) Ironically, it's the exact same shade as the hothouse tomatoes you'd find in the grocery store! My mother bought the the plants two years ago for her garden, and we saved her seeds for two years in the fridge before we planted them.

The only veggie left in the gardens is swiss chard, and I'm covering it every night with tarps to protect it from the cold and the deer! Swiss chard is a really hardy plant, and I hope to keep harvesting it for another month. (Also am covering a hot pepper plant I hope to pot up soon!)


Monday, October 15, 2012

A Great Plate makes the lunch...

{lunch on Liz Vigoda Pottery}
 Lunch today - nothing fancy, just a turkey and avocado sandwich - but made so nice on a beautiful plate! I've been collecting my talented neighbor Liz Vigoda's pottery for a while now and it always makes me smile!

 Liz and I are working out the details of our annual Delmar Holiday Open Studios and I've been working on the postcard design today. We're planning on December 8&9. (I'm designing on my trusty old 12" Powerbook G4, you know one of those ancient non-Intel Macs! I know I have to get a new computer soon, but it's so hard to say goodbye to this handy Mac since it still does it all! Let's say I already replaced the hard drive once myself and am SO attached!)
{Liz Vigoda botanical vase}
 Here are the images Liz sent me for the postcard. Isn't this beautiful? Each piece is handbuilt and uniquely decorated.
{Liz Vigoda pottery}
Here's another image Liz sent me, which I LOVE since chickadees are one of my favorite birds, but don't think the horizontal image will work out on the postcard design...

When the postcard is done I'll post the final design!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Squirrels in the Sunflowers

{sunflowers in vase by my friend Liz Vigoda}
When we lived in our city house years ago, I couldn't plant sunflowers because the city squirrels would chew them off at the base of the stem as soon as the flowers formed.

When Evie decided to plant some sunflowers this year I was happy to see the first large glorious blossoms survive. Then smaller sunflower buds started branching off the main stem and we had lots of flowers, and a constant stream of cheery flitting goldfinches to eat the seeds.

And then a bold squirrel found the sunflowers - and chewed the plants off at the base of the stem. I scooped up what was left for the compost bin, but was able to save a few blossoms and put them in vases around the house.

Any suggestions for keeping squirrels away from sunflowers?


Friday, September 14, 2012

Consignment Sale Jeans

{26 pairs of kid's jeans, ready for the sale}
Tonight I'm dropping off clothing to a new kid's consignment sale in Albany, New York. Called "Kids' Stuff Consignmnet Sale at DCS", the sale is a fundraiser for the non-profit Delaware Community School's PTA.

A group of Moms decided to hold the Kids' Stuff Consignment Sale at DCS sale after a long-established ten year old kid's consignment sale (The awesome Pass-It-On Sale) in the neighborhood had to move up to the town of Halfmoon, New York.

Kids' Stuff Consignment Sale at DCS is CASH ONLY and open to the public this weekend:

Saturday, September 15 11am-5pm
Sunday, September 16 9am-noon THEN 12:30-4pm everything HALF PRICE
Delaware Community School, 43 Bertha Street, Albany, NY 12209
 "Kids' Stuff at DCS" facebook page

Since kids grow so fast, consignment sales are a great way to outfit your child with gently worn items at unbeatable prices. Did you see that on Sunday after 12:30 everything in the sale will be half price? You can't beat that!


Friday, September 7, 2012

What Brocolli looks like when you go on Vacation - Flowers!

{Yes. it's brocolli!}
We came back from a ten day Florida vacation to an overgrown garden. The brocolli has blossomed! And it grew as nearly as tall as me, too.  Those "florets" in the grocery store are little buds waiting to bloom. You can still see some unopened florets in this little bunch of brocolli flowers...

I'm thinking of putting some in a vase when I tackle weeding out our overgrown jungle of a garden... Aren't the yellow flowers pretty? I saw a hummingbird visit them yesterday - too cool!


p.s. didn't forget the carrot soup recipe! It's coming up in a new post!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Leftover Carrots

{Making Carrot- Sweet Potato Soup from Farmer John's Cookbook}
 When we're camping, how can we come home with so much food? I'll blame all the guests who show up at the dock bearing grocery bags! We had four pounds of extra carrots after our camping trip and I had to turn to my favorite carrot soup recipe when we got home.

The recipe calls for roasted cashews. So good! Just toast unsalted cashews for a few quick minutes in a pan. It's a pureed soup, so I like to make it ahead of time, put the pot in the fridge, and puree it when the mixture is cold. It's too hard to wrestle with hot mixtures and a food processor - especially with a double batch!
{No rows here - just a big clump. Broccoli above it!}
Pictures of finished soup and a recipe coming in part II! Here's the little carrot patch in our garden.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Potential Photographs for my New Book...

{lichen on an oak tree}

{daughter Rosie climbing}

{a pinecone among fallen leaves}
I've been going through YEARS of photographs I took to find the perfect ones to illustrate the new book I'm writings, Eco-Happy: Three Steps To An Earth-Friendly Life.

It's been fun to look at images I've taken in the past to see if they capture the moods I'm hoping to portray... Obviously, years ago I never thought I'd be writing a book, so photographs I took in the past then that fit the theme are so serendipitous!

I think it's actually harder to have a book in mind and try to take photographs for it! But, while in Lake George I shot a bunch, hoping to get what I needed. Here are three photographs I just took on my last vacation that might make the cut - which is your favorite?


p.s. Ericca, this is for you!

Monday, July 30, 2012


{Vicars Island, Lake George}
This past weekend my family just got back from a two week vacation in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

We camped at Vicar's Island on Lake George, this photo shows the blaring sun rising above the foggy clouds on a morning where it rained at night. I love nothing more than sleeping with gentle sound of lapping waves and waking up to bright birdsong...

How was your summer vacation? Or have you not left yet?


Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Hundred!

bathing beauty - my grandmother Honey
My grandmother Geraldine, or "Honey" as we know her is 100 years old. 
Happy Birthday Honey!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Great Time at the Beekman Street Art Fair

{Street scene of the Beekman Street Art Fair}
It's been years since I took on an outdoor show. (It's often tough to set up a booth, take down, deal with weather, etc...) But I made an exception for the Beekman Street Art Fair in Saratoga Springs, New York this month and was glad I did!

The festival was blessed with beautiful weather and a great turnout. I enjoyed watching all the dog breeds parade past. Saratogians love their dogs!

All the exhibitors were top notch, thanks to Cecilia Frittelli of Textile Studio for putting together a great show. In the booths to left was my good friend and super-talented jeweler Nancy Miller. See her work here. Nancy lives in Saratoga and I joked that the festival could have been called the "Nancy Miller Show" as everyone seemed to know her!

{Two If By Sea Gallery, Ballston Spa, New York)
The booth to my right was a fantastic painter, Melissa Holmes Hatch. Melissa's husband Gregory Tkal just opened a new shop in Ballston Spa called Two If By Sea Gallery that hold's Melissa's gorgeous paintings, of course, but also vintage light fixtures that have been restored and brought to code, ready to hang in your home. He also can rewire custom work and has new reproduction lighting, as well.

Greg has a twenty year career working with lighting in homes, museums and films, and this new venture is a dream come true. See a gallery of his work here. I have to visit this place, soon!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

James Sankowski and Ballston Lake Pottery at Beekman Street Art Fair

(Last post before the Beekman Art Festival tomorrow!)

{Oval Vase, James Sankowski, Ballston Lake Pottery}
Here's the beautiful work of Ballston Lake's James Sankowski:

In 2002, James was one of three artists I interviewed for the Times Union article "Artisans are at Home in the Handmade Life" Here's a little bit from the article:

" Sankowski marvels at the lure of a handcrafted item in today's world. He remebers when a woman came up to him at a show and told him she simply could not start her day without wrapping her hands around a particular mug she purchased from him. "I'm so immersed in my wor, the forms and the glazes," Sankowski says, "It's surprising when I realize the spiritual connection it has to daily life"

One thing I remember about visiting James Sankowski's home was the beautiful display of pottery -his and pieces he's collected - that he had on display in his living room. How nice to have such beautiful pieces to use every day!

If you'll be at the Beekman Street Art Fair tomorrow, be sure to stop by James's booth Ballston Lake Pottery! I'll have a copy of the full Times Union article at my booth.

..and here's one more image of jewelry I'll be bringing to the show:
{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver Maria rings}

Carly Wright Jewelry at Beekman Street Art Fair

{sterling silver and enamel jewelry by Carly Wright}
One artist I'm really excited to see at the Beekman Street Art Festival tomorrow is Carly Wright! She is one of the most expressive jewelers I know, and her work is exquisite!

Six years ago I traveled the back roads from Albany to the rolling hill town of Berne, New York to write a feature article on Carly for The Crafts Report magazine. Seeing her studio and listening to her explain her highly refined work made me appreciate her jewelry even more. Read the article here: “Profile In Success: Carly Wright: An Expressive Voice” (One of my favorite parts of this article is a portrait I photographed of Carly against some of the dynamic rock formations that so inspire her.)

If you are coming to the festival tomorrow, don't miss Carly's booth!

As promised, here's a piece of jewelry I'm finishing for the Beekman Street Art Fair in Saratoga Springs, New York tomorrow:

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver reversible Meredith necklace with miniature original photograph of Pale Pink Rose, freshwater pearls}
I'm making this necklace with white and grey freshwater pearls. It's a favorite!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Frittelli Lockwood Weavers At Beekman Street Art Fair...

All this week I promise to share with you photos of pieces I'm bringing to the Beekman Street Art Festival in Saratoga Springs this Sunday, June 10. But, there are so many amazing artists exhibiting I can't wait to see at Sunday's show  that I  want to share THEIR work as well!

So first, the talented weaving of the frittelli & LOCKWOOD team, Cecilia Fritelli and Richard Lockwood. Cecilia has spent an enormous amount of time organizing the show. While they will not have a "booth" on the street, you'll find their studio and shop, Textile Studio, open at 143 Grand Avenue, on the intersection of Beekman Street and Grand Avenue. 

 frittelli & LOCKWOOD has fans across the country for their intricate handwoven clothing and exhibited at the Smithsonian Craft Show this year, a great honor. They dress women beautifully, but I really appreciate the detail in their fine handwoven men's clothing - ties, of course, but also light weight shirts and jackets. You rarely see men looking this stylish! See their website here:

Here's a piece I'll be bringing to the show:

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver Maria earrings with Green Leaf}
You can see how I did the watercolors for these reversible earrings in a previous post here.

Just got a list of all the artists exhibiting at the show:

Beekman Street Art Festival Exhibiting Artists:

Sue Brown Gordon—Greenfield Ctr, NY
Loretta Fontaine—Albany, NY
Carol Grasso—Ballston Spa, NY
Margie and Bill Lombard—Saratoga Springs, NY
Nancy Miller—Saratoga Springs, NY
Stefanie O’Brien—Glens Falls, NY
Christian Rodriguez
Carly Wright—Berne, NY

Art Baird—Holland Patent, NY
Jim Brunelle—Avon, CT
Randi Kish—Saratoga Springs, NY
James Sankowski—Ballston Lake, NY
Saratoga Clay Arts Center—Schuylerville, NY
Wayne Smith—Saratoga Springs, NY

Marjolaine Arsenault—Chestertown, NY
Cherry Schacher—Ballston Spa, NY
Charlene Leary—Lake George, NY
Nanette Miranda—Rio Rico, AZ
Linda Slezak—A-Babies, Ballston Spa, NY
Daniel Storto—Gloversville, NY
Barbara Weingart—Syracuse, NY
Olga Zvezdina—Troy, NY

Mixed Media
Beth Cunningham—Artifacts, Melrose NY
Grace Gunning—Rhinecliff, NY
Jocelyn Keene—Boxes and Beads, Saratoga Springs, NY
Chuck Kish—Saratoga Springs, NY
Caroline Mundell—Old Tin Stuff, Warrensburg, NY
Ralph Prata—Concrete Abstracts, Bloomingdale, NY

2-D Art
David Aimone—Saratoga Springs, NY
Michelle Card—Newburgh, NY
Charles DeMarco—Clifton Park, NY
Judy Haller-D’Angelo—Clifton Park, NY
Melissa Hatch—Ballston Spa NY
Erik Laffer—Schuylerville, NY
Alyson Stryker—Saratoga Springs, NY