Happy Valentine’s Day! The restaurants will be crowded, so our family will be cooking a heartfelt, homemade dinner for five, and finding a good excuse to use…
{my red transferware – photo from a 2010 post}
 My late grandmother Honey’s romantic red transferware dishes. I don’t think they are technically “china”, but we call them “Great Grandma Honey’s Fine China.” We have a full set that comes out for special occasions. We are missing Honey this year, she passed away last October at 100. (And she actually visited China! Honey had a love for travel!)
Her vibrant red dishes will make any meal full of love.
{GIVEAWAY! Loretta Fontaine Jewelry Reversible Maria necklace with Crimson Rose}
Don’t forget to enter my ongoing Valentine’s Day Giveaway (find the giveaway post here) to win my romantic Maria necklace. I am drawing the winner February 16th at noon.
{Albany, N.Y.’s finest – Krauses’s Handmade Candies chocolates}

The winner also gets a tempting box of chocolates? How can you resist that!

What are you doing this Valentine’s Day?


I am enthralled by the talented designer Judy Longbrook’s Oregon home in the latest issue of Portrait of Portland magazine.

{Judy Longbrook’s home office in West Hills, Portland, Oregon}

The most amazing room? Her home office, with walls of reclaimed wood. When the foundation of the 1940’s home was raised and rebuilt as part of an extensive remodeling, Judy saw the boards of vintage subflooring that were going to be thrown away and snagged them. As her home renovation proceeded, she grabbed all the subfloor boards she could and incorporated them into her home office design.

In the days before plywood, builders created a subfloor by using wide wood boards of lower-quality wood  laid at a 45 degree angle over the floor joists to create a level base to lay the down the finished floor of finer-quality wood boards.

The aged character-filled vintage subfloor boards lend a rustic presence to the dramatically angled walls. What a wonderful space to work in!

{the “grand” entrance to the home office – custom wallpaper!}
Here is a view looking into the office. Judy enlarged the entrance and had her son shoot photographs of grand double door entryways in France. From his photographs, she choose a photograph of the entrance to the library at the back of the Lourve and had it enlarged to paper the wall leading to her office.
{reclaimed floor boards – warmth and patina}

The floor boards in the home are salvaged antique reclaimed oak flooring from Los Angeles’s Exquisite Surfaces. The re-use of old wood in this home grounds this home in earthy beauty. The warmth, patina and history of reclaimed wood add such a wonderful touch.

{vintage reclaimed subflooring on the angled walls}

I’m ending this post with this beautiful image – a close-up of the office walls of reclaimed subfloor boards. Notice all the nail holes? Because the subfloor wood boards were originally nailed down AND then had flooring nailed over them, the boards have lots of imperfections, and tons of character and style.

Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home summed up imperfect materials recently in a post on her kitchen island: .“..what I love about most natural things, life changes it and makes an impression on it. I don’t get why unchanging and perfection should equal beauty”

 Thank you Judy, for recycling and reclaiming wood and claiming beauty in your home. For more on Judy Longbrook’s work see her website at www.jsdesign.com


p.s. Don’t forget to enter my chocolates and jewelry GIVEAWAY. The winner will be drawn on February 16!

Roses are one of my favorite flowers. 
With Valentine‘s Day around the corner I love to see them everywhere.
{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry Sterling Silver Meredith Necklace with Crimson Rose}

{the necklace is reversible – this is the other side}

I’ve decided to do a special – and mark down 20% off a necklace I think would make a perfect Valentine’s day gift.  Just until February 14! (Can you think of any guys who need a hint?)

{a little detail of my miniature original photography}

Visit my web site www.LorettaFontaine.com to view this necklace and others.


p.s. Don’t forget to enter my jewelry and chocolates giveaway. The winner will be drawn Feb 16!

I’m very, very excited about this giveaway! To celebrate Valentine’s Day I am giving away jewelry and chocolates. (Yes! JEWELRY AND CHOCOLATES!)

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry Reversible Sterling Silver Maria necklace with Crimson Rose}

I’ve just photographed this necklace and think it would be perfect for this giveaway. (See the photoshoot here.) I used one my own miniature original photographs of a crimson red rose in this piece.

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry Reversible Sterling Silver Maria necklace with Crimson Rose}

The necklace is sterling silver with a freshwater pearl drop, on an 16″ sterling silver chain with a 2″ extender. Did I mention it’s REVERSIBLE? This is the other side of the same necklace, featuring a smaller miniature original photograph of a crimson red rose. So if you win, it’s like getting two necklaces to wear!

{heaven! handmade chocolates from Krause’s Handmade Candy}

 ..and here’s the chocolate! I’ll be hand- selecting a heart-shaped box from Albany’s finest chocolate shop – Krause’s Handmade Candy at 1609 Central Avenue in Albany, New York.

{Son H looking over the chocolate selection from an earlier blog post}

This old-fashoned candy store is the best. There is nothing like picking out tempting, sweet  selections from behind an old-fashioned glass counter. (How patient are those workers at Krause’s! It takes me a while…)

Chocolate and Jewelry! How do you enter my giveaway?

*follow my blog APPLESandRUBIES AND visit my website shop at LorettaFontaine.com  or my brand new Etsy shop and tell me your favorite piece of Loretta Fontaine jewelry!

   *for an additional entry, mention this giveaway on your blog
   *for an additional entry, mention this giveaway on Facebook
   *for an additional entry, mention this giveaway on Twitter

That’s four chances to win! Leave a comment for each chance.

GOOD LUCK, I will draw a winner February 16 at 12:00pm EST


{Loretta Fontaine Sterling Silver Lucy Earrings with Purple Leaf}

I’ve been photographing my jewelry for the last few days to start up my own Etsy shop and want to share some of the photographs with you! Take a look at this previous post to see the photography lightbox setup, props (a Christmas ornament!) and camera lens I used.

In the photo above the green fabric and blue-painted wood blocks blurred into a beautiful background, don’t you think?

{Loretta Fontaine Sterling Silver Theresa Necklace with White Tulip}

Here’s the little Christmas ornament nest as a backdrop for a necklace. I’m torn between thinking the twigs looks absolutely charming, or if the twigs are too distracting. Do you have an opinion?

{Loretta Fontaine Sterling Silver Theresa Necklace with White Tulip}

Many of the necklaces and earrings are reversible, so I have to try and photograph the necklaces and earrings in multiple shots to show they can be worn both ways. Here’s the other side of the necklace that was shown earlier. Luckily Etsy gives you five images for each listing!

{Loretta Fontaine Sterling Silver Meredith Necklace with Crimson Rose}

The colors in this image are fantastic. I don’t think you can ever photograph the color red wrong!

{Loretta Fontaine 14K gold Lucy Earrings with Pale Pink Roses}

One of the earrings in this photo is deliberately out of focus, and it’s such a different way of photographing jewelry then I am used to, (a pure white background with everything in sharp focus.) But I really love the subtle mood the partially blurry photo conveys.

{Loretta Fontaine 14K gold Triple Lucy Necklace with Pale Pink Roses}

I was able to hang some pieces within the opening of the little nest, and I like the effect.

{Loretta Fontaine 14K gold Triple Lucy Earrings with Crimson Rose}

Especially with earrings! This is a sweet image.

{Canon Macro Lens EF 100mm for detail}

I zoomed in for some jewelry closeups. The lens I used is perfect for this because the camera pulls far back from the piece (it’s similar to a paparazzi lens!), and there are no shadows cast by the lens on the jewelry.

{detail of Loretta Fontaine Sterling Silver Lucy Earrings}

Here’s a detail of the sterling silver craftsmanship on a pair of earrings. I don’t buy ready-made components, but design all the silver work myself. This design on a pair of “Lucy” earrings was based on an antique William Morris wallpaper. I traced the design with tracing paper, then abstracted the design and etched it unto my master model to be cast. Then I antiqued and polished the silver.

The description section of the Etsy listings is a challenge – I want to convey all the unique ideas (like the William Morris inspiration above) that I put into each piece of jewelry. Luckily I have a talented blogger friend who is helping me write my descriptions, and pushing me to be as passionate as possible with my wording.

{Loretta Fontaine Sterling Silver Lucy Earrings with Crimson Rose}

…and lastly, here’s one of the photographs I am taking with a ruler and penny for clients to judge scale. Looking at this, I should have widened the focal lenght of the lens to get all of the earring in focus, it looks a little odd to me. I am still taking photographs, so I may have time to retake it.

When my Etsy shop launches (soon!), I’ll be doing a FANTASTIC Valentine’s chocolate and jewelry giveaway, so stay tuned!


In my last post I wrote some tips about working on room inspiration boards. As promised, here are all three finished boards:

{for Portland}

Here’s the board I made for my sister’s house in Portland Oregon. It’s a beautiful, modern architect-designed home with soaring spaces that she recently painted her walls and ceilings a shade of white (Popped Corn? or was it Popcorn Ball?) on the advice of the interior designers from Vanillawood. My sister loves clean, modern design and the color orange.

I didn’t note what the objects were when I pasted them down, and when she asked who made the pierced orange and white bowl in the upper left hand corner, I had no clue! If you recognize who made it, let me know!

{Pennsylvania Board}

The next board is for my sister-in-law. She and my brother built a new home in Pennsylvania, and have to wait a year before they paint the walls on the advice of their builder.  The color I would choose for their living areas would be Benjamin Moore’s Brushed Aluminum, a gorgeous, subtle  shade which would be a beautiful backdrop against the navy blues my sister-in-law loves.

She traveled the world as a child and teenager, an American living in Europe, Turkey and Japan. I’ve added some ethnic textiles (including a bold navy Turkish half moon block print) to comfy, traditional furniture. I can see her house filled with pink roses to add color.

{for me!}

..and the last of the three boards I made for myself. Except for the ceiling fan, paint color and my snake plant, all of the images are “inspiration only.”

Other designer boards might show the exact furnishings, textiles and fabrics used in the room. My board is more about setting the mood I’m thinking of for the space, I’ll be shopping thrift shops for most the furniture, and looking for the greenest options I can find.

Getting this inspiration board done really helped me focus on the mood I want to create. I’ve always wanted to make an inspiration board, and I can see now how helpful they can be!

Thanks for taking a look!

p.s. A Valentine’s Day  jewelry and chocolate giveaway coming up soon!

{one of my three finished inspiration boards}

I finished three inspiration boards, one for myself, and two other inspiration boards for the homes of my Sister S and Sister-In-Law C. I have two tips to share…

{a little color first…}

 TIP #1: Start By Painting The Board Your Wall Color

I used Benjamin Moore’s Yarmouth Blue, and painted the center of a standard 22″ x 28″ poster board with the paint color. (I left white around all of the edges, with a bit more white at the top for the “ceiling”)

{Benjamin Moore Yarmouth Blue HC-150}

I’ve used this color in the living room of our older house and loved it.  It was a subtle, shifting color – a soft pale blue/green in the daylight, and a deeper sophisticated blue/grey at night… It’s one of Benjamin Moore’s historic shades.

{three piles}

I grabbed old catalogs and magazines and started cutting. There were three very different moods I wanted for each very different home, mine in New York, my sister’s in Oregon and my brother’s in Pennsylvania. I was surprised how many items I clipped could have fit nicely in more than one board.

{Elmer’s Repostionable Picture and Poster Stick}

TIP #2: Use A Repositionable Picture and Poster Glue Stick

This made it so easy to move the images around on the page. It was as if each clipping became it’s own Post-It note! Cool!

{Rosie at work}

 Pull out a glue stick and kids come instantly running… Here is Rosie working on Aunt C’s board. You can see Benjamin Moore’s Brushed Aluminum paint brushed on the center of the poster board. This soft shade would look great in her new home.

{inspired by cars, and using his own purple glue stick!}

…and Son H had to come running to make his own version.

{my interior window seat sketch}

My house has a very open floor plan, with an open living/dining room and kitchen, and our newly built and not-yet-painted windowseat addition. (Right now our walls in our open areas are the color they were when we moved in three years ago, a tan shade and I am ready for a change. You can see the new color scheme I am dreaming of in this earlier post.)

{putting it together}

I had such a great time sticking and re-sticking down these pictures. Say what you will, but I don’t think I’d have as much fun working this out with pixels on the computer!

{“Elle” Craftmade ceiling fan}

The board is truly for inspiration, all mood and color. I don’t plan on buying anything exactly like in the photos – but for the ceiling fan! It’s already picked out and at the top of the board.

 …and I had already been given the Snake Plant, and placed it in a modern planter just like the one I pasted below the plant picture!

{like adding mascara – black on the windows BM Wrought Iron 2124-10}

 I’ll paint the windowseat windows Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron. I fell in love with black doors and windows in a place featured in House Beautiful Magazine years ago… I wish I could remember the name of the designer of that home. (Grant Gibson recently blogged about his black doors here.)

{blues and greens}

 I’m looking for eco-friendly thrift shop finds to paint black or white, and old wood pieces to harmonize with our antique piano. I want to make this renovation as Earth-friendly as possible.

…and ART! I can’t wait to finally hang pictures on the walls. These black and white photographs are gorgeous. I printed many of my own photographs recently, and they are ready to go.

I’ll share all three finished inspiration boards in my next post! If you try my tips if you make your own, let me know how it comes out!


{photo shoot!}

Today I’m shooting my jewelry for my brand new Etsy shop!

 I’ve always sold my jewelry thorough galleries or at craft shows, but I’ve always wanted to be able to connect with the people who purchase jewelry online with both an Etsy shop and a shopping cart on my own website LorettaFontaine.com.  It’s been a goal for a while now.

{Loretta Fontaine Amy reversible sterling silver earrings with Stuyvesant Fern miniature original photography}

In the past, most of my jewelry photoshoots involved a pure white background (see above!)

Magazine editors like the clean, white background because they have a lot of editorial freedom with page layouts. Photos with a white background are also ideal for my catalogs and line sheets. But I’ve noticed the photography on Etsy is all about MOOD, and using interesting bckgrounds to tell part of the story of the handmade products.

{Back to your nest when I am done!}

So I scoured the studio and house looking for “props”, and since the Christmas decorations are still sitting in boxes in the basement waiting to be put away, I grabbed this little “nest” from a Christmas tree ornament I bought at the fabulous Experience and Creative Design in Schenectady. The adorable little bird it came with is letting me “borrow” his nest! Ha ha!

{the pottery we hold the kindling in was found at a yard sale in Vermont – LOVE it}

And then I grabbed for more “props” some of the twigs we use for kindling in our woodstove…

{my dining room table, inspired by Lauren Liess’s Better Homes and Garden article}

Do you remember the post I did in 2010 with the Lauren Liess Pure Style Home inspired Holiday Lunch? I thought the green fabric I bought would be the perfect romantic backdrop for the Etsy photographs.

{I used the “reverse” of the fabric to lighten the mood…}

With fabric down, nest ornament in place and a few blue-painted blocks of wood I am ready to shoot photographs. Here’s one necklace ready to go…

{penny and ruler}

One thing that is so hard to judge on sites like Etsy is scale – so I’m taking a photograph of each piece of jewelry next to a copper penny and a clear ruler in inches and centimeters. Not very romantic, but it will give people a great sense of the scale of the jewelry so there will be no “it’s smaller than I thought!” or “it’s much bigger then I thought!” when someone gets the jewelry in the mailbox.

(Yes, this has happened to me when I bought an adorable wooden puzzle on Etsy for my nephews and it was SO much smaller than I realized – even when they listed the dimensions.)

{Canon Macro Lens EF 100mm}

I’m using a lens with a very short focal range to make the backdrop of the photos blur into a gorgeous mix of greens, blues and rustic wood. Or, at least that’s the lofty goal I have in my head! I choose jewelry that I thought would be perfect to give for upcoming Valentine’s Day, and hope this “mood” I am trying to create works to set a romantic backdrop for the jewelry.

I’ll share my new photographs soon! Any photography or Etsy hints of your own?

{Icynene light density LD-C-50 classic foam}

We had our windowseat addition insulated with Icynene Spray Foam insulation, and I researched the process, but you don’t get a good idea of the installation until the crew is at your door and you are in the thick of things! So here’s a play by play of the process…

{windowseat addition ceiling, before Icynene}

Here’s the framing of the new windowseat addition before the Icynene foam was blown. (The glint of silver you see above the window is foil-faced sheets of rigid foam insulation that was added for extra R-value over the 2 x 6 stud walls.) We chose Northeast Spray Foam of Albany, New York as our contractors for the job.

{the wiring in the ceiling is for the new ceiling fan}

We have a cathedral ceiling in our living room, and we had Northeast Spray Foam remove the drywall and spray the high ceiling as well. (They also went into the attic and sprayed foam in the roof rafters AND sealed our crawlspace – a full insulation job for the house!)

{another view of the cathederal ceiling – woodstove pipe to the left}

Back in the 70’s, the builders never vented the cathederal ceiling. Today, a builder would add a “baffle” that would let air move between the insulation and roof deck from the soffit (the edge of the roof) to a ridge vent on the top of the roof. Or they might use an unvented SIP (Structural Insulated Panel).

We just had 2 x 10 studs with fiberglass. And worse, there were two potlights in the ceiling so moist air could flow right up those two weak spots in the insulation, hit the cold roof deck in the winter, and freeze! This photo was taken right when the insulation was taken down, and you can still see some insulation “froze” to the roof deck! The darker “wet” spots are thawing ice. Yikes!

{The foam sets in seconds}

The whole job took two days. A big tractor trailer rig pulled into my driveway, and the crew of three sealed off the area with plastic and blue painter’s tape and started working. In the rig, two liquid chemicals mix to form the foam, which moves through a hose into the house and gets sprayed through a trigger gun. The Icynene foam comes out HOT, and even in the winter this is a hot job. The person spraying the foam wears a full face mask that brings cold, fresh air from an additional hose from the truck to breathe.

There was a bad odor with the foam and an almost misty look to the air, and I didn’t want to hang around too much when the crew was spraying. After the Icynene foam “sets” (within seconds) – it cools off and can be “shaved” down with a special blade where it extends over the joists or studs so there is a smooth surface for drywall. The black bags hold the shaved pieces of foam. I wish there was something to do with that extra foam insulation – I was told it went right to the landfill, sadly.


Here’s a photo of the blade in action. He like a Japanese warrior! Sadly, the photo of the blade is blurred, but the blade looks like a giant serrated jigsaw blade. The thin blade is held between the two wood joists, and then the blade is moved back and forth by hand to saw away the extra insulation.

The red and blue bag is mineral wool insulation. The ceiling area around the woodstove pipe (not shown in this photo), by code, needs to have fire-proof insulation. They just needed a little bit from the bag.

{space age!}

A close up of the Icynene spray gun and hood. One of the members of the crew was female, and she did the spraying that day. You go, girl!


This is not a neat process – you can see drips of foam all over the plastic sheets. The Icynene foams cures fast, so it was not sticky, but it STICKS very well to anything it touched.

Here’s a montage of the finished ceiling, with the windowseat addition towards the right side of the photo. The plastic sheets stayed up for one day before they were taken down. The area was vented for a day with a box fan, and the job was done. Hello warm house in winter and cool house in summer!

Jan 16

Snow Delay!

 Today we woke up to a two-hour school snow delay! My husband is a high school math teacher, so he was the first up to celebrate. Then Evie, then Rosie and last up Son H. We had popovers for breakfast and a quiet morning as everyone headed out two hours late.
{Our tracks this morning in the snow – we have quite the crowd headed down our street!}

 I walk with Rosie and Son H to their elementary school. We are lucky that we live close to the school, and are joined every morning by a bunch of neighborhood kids and parents for the morning trip. It wakes me up in the morning!

{snow on a blue spruce}

 There is something beautiful about freshly fallen snow. I love how it clings to every needle of an evergreen. It’s magic when the air is still and the snow is falling. It’s as if the whole landscape is whispering “hush”.


{Winter’s Black-eyed Susans}

Were you lucky enough to get snow this morning?