{the vintage loot!}
Almost 200 people entered my  jewelry and chocolates giveaway, but only ten people entered my vintage clothing giveaway. Come on folks, let me tell you the clothing giveaway was the better one! Let’s take a look at a few of the clothes from my last clothing swap I packed up for winner Danielle of Fresh Quince
{“My Michelle” blocked tank dress}
 Luckily, Danielle is not my size, or this dress would have been mine all mine…
{Nine West tan leather slingbacks}

…and luckily we wear different shoe sizes or this stunning pair would have been mine as well. These heels would look great with the dress above, no?

{perfect heel!}
…and look – Did anyone ever wear these? Maybe once on a carpeted floor because they are in MINT condition! And a few clothing items I am giving Danielle are brand new, too!
{Ann Taylor shell with ruffled sleeves}
Danielle was hoping for anything striped, but I am sorry to say her perfect and adorable striped dress was snatched up by my oldest daughter Evie. Only ten and tall, she can wear the smallest women’s sizes. (She was killing me trying on heels at the swap!) So, Danielle, how about some prints instead?
{mosaic love}
A detail of the fabric from the shirt above. So fun!
{Old Navy chocolate brown tank}
Two details from some cute tank tops. Here are jewels…
{Mary Beth N.Y. tank}
…and some sweet fabric roses!
{Talbots black ribboned skirt}
This skirt is a bit preppy, but I’m sure Danielle can use it as a base to mix it up with some fun pieces. 
{Hmmm…}
Danielle and I had a long phone conversation about some of the things I was on the fence sending her. A long rust red skirt?  Didn’t make the cut and hit the donation pile. A see-through lime green chiffon shirt with HUGE sides that I called a butteryfly shirt? Not so sure. 
“Send it,” Danielle says.
{Free People dress from Design Manifest}
Good thing, because next day I see on Naomi’s blog Design Manifest a similar look. (Naomi’s sister is designing for Free People!) Ironically, Danielle and I were talking about blogs that write fashion well and Naomi’s blog was mentioned, of course!
{Willi Smith cotton/linen print dress – brand new!}
One last dress from the pile. Isn’t this just gorgeous and a great cut? So sorry Danielle, it’s not navy blue…

…then you could dress just like Emily Hendersen!

Remember everyone, to watch her show Secrets From A Stylist tomorrow night! And Danielle, let me know your favorite piece from all I sent you! I had SO much fun “shopping” for you! All clothing left from my swap was donated to For Pete’s Sake in Albany, New York, a thrift shop to benefit Saint Peter’s hospital.

Loretta
p.s. still looking for opinions on my new profile picture!

Big disclosure here – no cable TV in my house.

So I am begging a friend to tape HGTV’s Secrets from a Stylist this weekend for me.

It is must-see-TV. I’ve been enamored of Emily Hendersen’s talent ever since I caught the premiere of her show holed up in a motel during a road trip to Florida. Traveling + motel cable = HGTV for me!

{source: HGTV}

In that first episode, Emily transformed Glee co-creator Ian Brennan’s home with a mixture of three styles: historic traditional, ’60s mod and global traveler. And she did it layer by layer, reworking it up as she went. Did I mention she also shops the flea markets? Heaven.

Now her second show is coming this weekend: Saturday night, February 26 9PM est. Watch this show, everyone! Then contact HGTV and ask for a bizillon more episodes. Enough real estate shows, more design shows!

{aww, cute!}

Emily has been posting on her amazing blog Style by Emily Hendersen a few of the roots that rock her talent, that is her 4-H projects she did as a kid.

{my Mom was troop co-leader}

So last visit to my parent’s house, I dug into the old photos. You know I sewed my wedding dress, but did you know I sewed as a kid, too? Here’s a calico-filled girl scout quilt.

{little sis at Bell Top School}

And here’s the dress I sewed for my sister S that she wore her first day of school. I was nine years old.

Emily, if you are reading I want to tell you her dress was pink and white stripe seersucker, with a yoke front and ruffled sleeves. Any ruffles planned on your show this Saturday? I’ll be watching!

Loretta

Can you believe I’ve been writing APPLESandRUBIES for six months now?

Really, THANK YOU all for reading and coming along with me on this ride so far.

{sterling silver Theresa earrings with Stuyvesant Fern}

 I feel honored to now know so many people in different places, to know other bloggers and readers with amazing insights and talents.  As a jewelry designer, I’m often holed up by myself, working alone. I can’t thank blogging enough for expanding my world. Really! Stay tuned for some exciting news about the direction I’ll be taking my business in soon…

Now, help me pick a new profile pic! When I started thinking about writing this blog back in the summer of 2010,  I had my amazing friend Juliet Lofaro come over and shoot some new headshots.

Juliet is a fabulous photographer and the mother of two sweet, beautiful girls. When Juliet lived in New York City she shot for film and theater, and had a photography studio where actors, musicians and conductors would visit to have their portraits taken. (She tells me the conductors would arrive with tuxedo tails and shirt, and jeans underneath as their legs didn’t show in the headshots!)

{the friendly “APPLES” portraits}
{the glamorous “RUBIES”Juliet worked magic here, I don’t really look like this!}

Juliet shot these portraits on a sweltering summer day – think 95 degrees outside and the “dewy look” is my new makeup sweating off! – Here are ten of her photographs.  I separated them into two groups: the everyday “APPLES”, and the more glamorous “RUBIES”

Which do you like best for a new profile picture for my blog? …and why? I need help! It’s far too hard to judge pictures of yourself!

{“Spring Dreams” photograph by Juliet Lofaro}

 … and see more of Juliet’s poetic photography at: Juliet’s Blog

Loretta

{soon I’ll find some new pretty pots for them}

I’m trying something new in houseplants. Meet my two new little charmers – succulents! When I saw them for sale I was smitten, because there are two amazing designer showhouses, one finished and one in the works, where I’ve seen beautiful examples of succulents in the home.

The first is the “studio” room in the Gilt Home Showhouse by Steve and Brooke Giannetti (Brooke writes Velvet and Linen), and the second is the in-the-works DC Design House, with a guest room by Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home.

{in Laurel Canyon, not far from Mulholland Drive}

Here’s the before of the bedroom-turned studio in the Los Angeles Gilt Home Ashton Kutcher Showhouse. A portion of the proceeds from the showhouse will be donated to DNA, a charity started by Ashton Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore to combat human trafficking.

…and here is the after! See the beautiful succulents nested in the soaring space? They are as just as sculptural and fascinating as the other wonderful objects carefully placed in the room. Steve Giannetti’s glowing original paintings and giclee prints were the starting point for the vibrant palette used.
{I could move right in}
Many pieces of furniture in the space are Giannetti Home Designs, including this breathtaking tufted “Lulu” Side Chair, the “Clive” Wing Chair and the “Nick” Sofa. Antiques and objects from their Los Angeles shop filled out the space. Brooke and Steve had a Facebook chat this month where they fielded questions on the room, including way too many questions from me! 
{blues and greens}

 One last look at a beautiful succulent in the Gilt Home Showhouse. The layering of objects in the space is just perfection!

{glowing! photo:Lauren Liess}
Here’s the other succulent that’s caught my fancy. What a giant, fleshy, delightfully hued plant! This beauty is in the garden room of the now under-construction DC Design House, and provided inspiration to Lauren Liess as she was planning her submission.
{will be rescued soon…}
Under construction right now, The DC Design House in Washington, D.C. benefits the Children’s National Medical Center. Here’s the “before” of the guest room Lauren will be transforming. 
{in progress}
Lauren has been updating us on the progress of the space on her blog Pure Style Home. In her last post, she told how she had to rework her original concept for a whole new room. So, here’s her design board ripped apart to make changes. 
She’s told us not to fall in love with anything on the board except for the Peter Dunham “Fig Leaf” fabric in the upper left corner.
{dreamy}
Lauren’s been working on her new line of furniture, to debut this Spring. Could we dream of her Mad Hatter Chair covered in “Fig Leaf” as seen in the sketch on the design board?  Or has she changed it up since?
{source: www.thepursuitofstyle.com, Elle Decor}

Here’s some examples of “Fig Leaf” in other spaces. Doesn’t the fabric capture the freshness and colors of the succulent shown earlier? This guest room was designed by Peter Dunham himself.

{source: www.stylecourt.blogspot.com}

Here’s another Peter Dunham project with the walls done up as well. Beautiful!

{design by Ruthie Sommers, photo by Victoria Pearson, House Beautiful March 2011}

…and yet another example of “Fig Leaf” on the upholstered chair from the latest issue of House Beautiful magazine.

{the first fabric strike-off of the dynamic “Happikat” in linen}

Lauren will be including some of the first runs from her new fabric line, Lauren Liess Fabrics, in her space. New line of fabrics, new line of furniture! I just can’t wait to see the “after” of this room!

Saturday February 26, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm the DC Design House will have a special “Bare Bones” tour where you can see the rooms in progress, and Lauren has promised her new design board will be up and ready for viewing. If you are in the Washington D.C. area, stop by and see what she is up to!

Loretta

p.s. I’ll find some time to be at the similar “Sneak Peak” of the Vanguard Designer Showhouse in Loudonville, New York this weekend, February 19 & 20. Hours are 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

{not a stock photo – these are the giveaway chocolates! Yum!}
Oh, how I wish I could send jewelry and a heart shaped box of chocolates to all the readers who left comments during my Valentine’s Day Giveaway! But there was one number picked, and our lucky winner is the beautiful and talented Karena Albert,  author of the popular and wonderful blog Art By Karena! She’ll be getting these luscious chocolates, handmade here in Albany, New York…

 … to go with my handmade sterling silver and freshwater pearl earrings! Follow me as we take a visit to Krause’s Handmade Candies in Albany where we picked out the chocolates…

{1609 Central Avenue, Albany, New York}

Krause is a familiar name in chocolates on the east coast, with shops run by various Krause family members operated in Albany, New Jersey, Saugerties and Long Island. It began when Alfred Krause came to the United States from Germany in 1929 with his Old-World knowledge of candy making.  Alfred’s grandson Tom opened Krauses’s Handmade Chocolates in Albany in 1986.

{don’t know how he banged his nose!}

 I brought along a little chocolate lover. Preschool really tired him out that morning, because Son H arrived at the candy shop like this…

{candy land}

 Now, you can find more “gourmet” handmade chocolates in our area, but when I think Valentine’s Day I think of a red heart shaped box full of luscious classics – smooth creams and truffles, chewy caramels and nut-filled bites. I don’t need the gold leaf or strange fillings!

{How to choose?}
Krause’s has a huge classic candy counter. The chocolates are made fresh with quality chocolate and the best ingredients.  Their factory is right through the doors behind the counter.
{handmade penuche fudge, anyone?}
Did I mention there are a lot of samples? I must have tried at least four treats laid out on the counters.

{Love the floppy hats the employees wear!}
 If you are cute, you’ll even get to pick an extra sample from behind the counter! 
{sucker for sprinkles of any kind – Son H picked the nonpariel}
I was thinking I’d score 50% off Valentine’s Day candy two days after Valentine’s Day, but I forgot at Krause’s the boxes are filled to order!

Let’s see if I can remember what I choose… Raspberry, blueberry and coconut creams, chocolate truffles, dipped marzipan, white and dark chocolate peanut butter cups! (If this makes you hungry, Krause’s Handmade Candies ships across the country.)
{the beautiful Karena Albert}

Happy Valentine’s Day, Karena! Please visit Karena’s blog on Art, Interior Design, Architecture and Inspiration: Art By Karena.  Not only a talented artist, Karena is also a generous and inspirational person, and actively involved in the Kansas City, Missouri art scene!

I could not think of a sweeter Valentine.

Loretta

{at your service!}
Happy Valentine’s Day! Yesterday, I volunteered to be a server at a Valentine’s Brunch fundraiser. We raised money for a wonderful scholarship fund for non-profit eba, Inc., an arts group that provides dance workshops for children, and never turns anyone down due to their ability to pay.
I had never waitressed before, I did the paint crew thing when I was young. So, as your newly minted waitress, I can tell you that the pea soup is vegetarian, gluten and dairy free; the clear chicken soup with vegetables does have gluten as it was made with canned Cottage Inn Stock; and the corn chowder is indeed creamy and full of dairy and bacon. Because people did ask!
And on a sweet note we have a WINNER for the “vintage” clothing giveaway! Congratulations to lucky #8, Danielle of Fresh Quince!
Loretta

Yes, another giveaway!

I’m hosting my 3rd Annual Accessory and Clothing Swap at my home next week, enter to win and I will do some personal shopping for YOU at my swap and mail you a box of secondhand finds.

What, you don’t wear second hand? Then let’s call it vintage and think of the money you’ll be saving. For inspiration on wearing vintage, check out at Danielle’s wonderful What To Wear Wednesdays on her eco-friendly blog Fresh Quince. Here’s an image from one of her February posts:

{Danielle’s consignment finds at Current Boutique in Arlington}

Let me show you a few of the items I scored at my clothing and accessory swap last year to inspire you to enter my giveaway:

{apt. 9 ruffled shirt}
 How cute is this for a Spring day with dark cropped jeans, sandals, and a ponytail?
{Dani Max sleeveless shift dress with piping detail}
This smart little dress is a favorite, so classic with a bit of graphic retro styling…
{Anne Taylor shell}
Perfect to layer in my new favorite color…

So let me shop for you! Just leave a comment below with what you’d be looking to score at my swap for a chance to win.

For ten extra chances, post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment below. For another ten chances, post about this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment below!

I’ll draw the winner on Valentine’s Day, February 14, at 12:00 noon EST.

Loretta

…and don’t forget to enter my other giveaway for a pair of sterling silver & pearl earring and chocolates!

{sterling silver freshwater pearl earrings with handmade earwires}

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, here’s a chance to win a lovely pair of earrings. Pearls and silver go with everything, don’t you think?

Just become a follower of this blog and leave a comment below for a chance to win.

For ten extra chances, post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment below. For another ten chances, post about this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment below!

I’ll draw the winner the day after Valentine’s Day, February 15, at 12:00 noon EST. And since it’s after the big romantic day, I will also ship the winner some delicious local chocolates, too. I’ll shop the 50% off sales for you!

Good Luck!
Loretta

What is your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?

{a long time ago…}

How much snow do we have here in upstate New York? Do you remember this photo of my deck from months ago?

{buried}

Well, this morning it looked like this. Can you see the tiniest hint of the striped tablecloth?

Pretty and gorgeous drifts of snow, but dangerous with all the weight since it’s a second floor deck. I shoveled off the deck, then raked the snow off the roof unto the deck and then… shoveled off the deck once more.

And how did I find a snow roof rake since all the stores here are sold out? Social networking, my friend. One request on Facebook and my friend S dropped off a roof rake to borrow within the hour. Amazing!

Loretta
(Feel free to be my Facebook friend, too!)

Imagine my surprise when I found three cups of summer in the freezer – hidden behind the frozen edamame was a container of wild black raspberries I had completely forgotten about.

We picked them as kids and called them blackberries – but now I’m older and wiser, and know that if they have a concave shape inside, and leave that raised white button (“rasp”) on the canes they are technically wild black raspberries. From our house my sister, brothers and I would cut behind the Thompson’s yard, and up the hill into the sunny fields where the berries grew along the trails. When searching, we’d look for a glint of pale blue-green from the canes; easier to spot from a distance then the berries themselves. Then we’d pick in heat of the sun – only the ripe sweet dark ones from the clusters of pink, red and black. If we could fill a measuring cup my mother would make muffins for us four kids when we got home.

Where we live now there are some wild berries within walking distance of our house, but to find the more you have to take a short drive to the old train tracks behind the Elks Club. Last summer Husband, Evie, Rosie, Son H and I went with plastic buckets and water bottles to get our loot, have our fingers stained crimson red, and collect quite a few scratches from the canes.

My amazingly creative friends Kevin and Rosanne were coming over for breakfast last week, and the thawed berries got baked up into everything. First muffins, of course, then rolled in cinnamon rolls. Dropped into pancake batter next.

Just three good friends from Columbia High School, (and I knew Kevin from birth since he had lived across the street), deep snow outside, and summer berries for breakfast. We were laughing over creativity, life, and loves lost, and at one point I was tearing up remembering the lines from the song Same Old Lang Syne. Frozen food in that song, by the way.

No alcohol served, but I must have been drunk on conversation.  As the old friends were heading out the door and I was leaving to pick up my son at preschool, I couldn’t find the keys I was holding in my own hand.

Loretta