February is just around the corner.

{Meredith necklace with Pale Pink Rose, waiting for a chain}

I’m in Valentine’s Day mode at my jewelry bench. Here’s a necklace in progress, made with a favorite photograph I shot of a rose. Isn’t the this shade of cotton candy pink uplifting?

What get’s you into a Valentine’s state-of-mind?


{doesn’t this capture the magic of snow?}

I’m finally putting away the last of the Christmas decorations, (including my beautiful new ornament from Brooke at Velvet and Linen), and I’m saving one card for my soon-to-be-put-up inspiration board. It’s from Double H Ranch and has the sweetest drawing of a skier tucked in position heading down the slopes.

I worked with Linda Smith last November to have the raffle at the show I volunteer to organize, Holiday Crafts on Madison, benefit  Double H Ranch. We raised almost $500! It’s a very special place that, in Linda’s words on the card: “gives our children their week in the woods, season on the slopes and our families a retreat weekend…”

 Double H Ranch is a a camp in the Adirondacks founded by Paul Newman and Charles Woods. Right now, their winter adaptive sports program is going on where a crew of all volunteers offers children ages 6-16 dealing with chronic and life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to participate in various winter sports in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains for free. Imagine children snowboarding, skiing downhill and cross-country, and snowshoeing!


Adirondack Life magazine ran a great article on the program. Says one mom “I never thought my son, who cannot walk, would ever be able to ski. When I saw the huge smile on his face, I knew we were in the right place, and there was nowhere else on earth we would rather be.”

You can read Double H’s blog and donate a day on the slopes for a child for $50 here. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at the Ranch, and the magic there has never left me.


{clockwise left to right: Moira, Stacey, myself, Evie and Rosie}

Last month I had the great pleasure of seeing a dream come true. My dear friends Stacey Gerard and Moira Geracitano celebrated the Grand Opening of their beautiful art studio in Latham, New York.

{The new space – with a curtained-off area for parties}

Called ArtSmarts, it features a hands on approach to learning and creativity for children and their families. What amazes me about this dream realized is it was not a deep budget that made this space happen. What made it happen was pure willpower and elbow grease on the part of these two. Stacey and Moira reused, recycled and painted up a storm to pull it all off.

The bright, fun space is just full of beautiful touches…

{Can you believe it was less than $100!}

The newly installed IKEA Maskros Pendant Lamp throws bursts of light over the space…

{look at the fabulous star detail on the seats!}

…and Stacey finally found the perfect spot for the antique bench that had sat in her garage forever!

{Moira cut the legs of this huge Craigslist table down to a child’s height}

With all this creativity behind the design of this space, you can imagine how creative and wonderful the classes and parties held at ArtSmarts are!

{Rosie drawing on the huge chalkboard wall  in the party area}

I am so proud of Stacey and Moira! Congrats!


November 2012 UPDATE: The etsy shop is now open (with just one item to start, but more coming soon!): www.etsy.com/shop/LorettaFontaineLtd

Who out there is selling online? This girl is looking for ADVICE!

{sterling silver Meredith necklace with Stuyvesant Fern, freshwater pearls, faceted iolite and blue topaz}

I’ve owned my business, Loretta Fontaine Jewelry, for over ten years now and have sold my artisan handcrafted sterling silver jewelry with miniature original photography at national trade shows to over sixty fine shops and galleries across the country (even Alaska!)

My work has been featured on ABC, InStyle.com, National Jeweler , NICHE, Lapidary Journal and Modern Jeweler and seven books on jewelry, the latest being Lark Book’s 500 Gemstone Jewels: A Sparking Collection of Dazzling Designs.

I have a feeling it’s time to start selling my work from my website, and maybe Etsy? I’m doing more and more custom work and it would be a lot of fun to directly connect with my clients.

If you have an Etsy shop or are an Etsy shopper, and have some good advice, leave it in a comment for me below. (Add some links to your favorite Etsy shops, too!)

I’m thinking of designing a new, sleeker website with WordPress and feature a little online store. Anyone selling from your website? Again, leave some advice with your comments!

A big thanks in advance to all! (I’m hoping for a big virtual push here.)


November 2012 UPDATE: The etsy shop is now open (with just one item to start, but more coming soon!): www.etsy.com/shop/LorettaFontaineLtd

Jan 22

Snowy Days


Here near Albany, New York we’ve been blanketed with snow. It’s a serene, white wonderland and I think this will be one of those winters where we don’t see the ground until a Spring thaw. Which is fine with me. When it’s cold out I enjoy this white magic.

{Evie and Rosie by the creek behind our home}

We’ve had two snow days this month and the kids couldn’t be happier!

{my little guy off the slide}

If you’ve got the snow, enjoy it!


p.s. I’ve been writing APPLESandRUBIES for over four months and on the last snow day, (My Mr. is a teacher), my husband FINALLY took some time to read the blog! His comments? “Cool,” he says, “I didn’t know you burnt the roses! Love you, sweetheart!

What a nice lift to start the day! I’m so flattered to have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award from Danielle of Fresh Quince. Thank you, Danielle! Please visit her blog – it’s a great read on Style and Eco-friendly living!

The reward requires a list of seven things you might not know about me:

1. I made my wedding dress. (and veil, too.)
2. On the last page of the magazine The Crafts Report, I wrote the monthly column “Loretta’s Last Line” for three years. 
3. I photographed industrial buildings along the entire Erie Canal as part of my Master’s thesis in Architecture.
4. I asked Santa for dark chocolate and a new set of white dishes last Christmas. (This involved a slushy side trip to Fishs Eddy in New York City!)
5. For the first time last year, I grew Bright Lights swiss chard. It runs circles around spinach.
6. I prefer aquamarines over diamonds.
7. I just took a book out from the library on writing song lyrics.
Addition: Someone asked if that’s a “stock” wedding picture or my actual dress. It’s my new Mr. and me and my dress! Credit to Tom Wall Photography

Now, I’d like to pass this award on to my super list of Stylish Bloggers, (but see my mathmatical disclaimer below.) I’m a big fan of all these talented ladies, so do hope you take the time to click on one of these links and maybe you’ll discover your next favorite blog!

mathmatical disclaimer: Feel free not to participate! Just sincerely reply: “…Loretta, love you, but, this award is statistically unsustainable as it involves exponential growth to the tenth degree.” 


(Fishs Eddy photo by suchprettythings)

I’d like to share some details of a client’s custom project I finished for the holidays. My client Paul wanted a custom sterling silver Maria necklace. The front of the necklace would have a black and white photograph of a dear loved one, and for the tiny square image on the back of the necklace he wanted a dragonfly.

Let me show you how I  took the dragonfly from sketch to finished piece:

{the wing structure of a dragonfly amazed me}
I ordered mossy green beads of faceted emeralds for the finished necklace, and sketched a dragonfly with colored pencils. It did not have to be very detailed, because wait until you see how tiny the sketch will become!
{I carefully position the tiny photograph with precision tweezers}

 I photographed my dragonfly sketch and reworked the image in Photoshop. A local Pro Lab printed the miniature original photograph on archival paper for me.
{the back of the necklace as I was working on it}
I was thrilled with this beautiful custom piece when done, and the necklace was a wonderfully received Christmas gift for Paul’s wife Tami. Paul chose the dragonfly because of the powerful message of transformation a dragonfly represents. Read the insightful quote by Walter Dudley Cavert here.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, and I’m especially struck by power of transformation. The future is in the the generations that follow us. Take the time to remind the children in your life of the power of hope.

After reading Maria Killam’s 2011 resolution post on her blog Colour Me Happy, I’m compelled to write a list myself.  Nothing like a little blog peer pressure to hold my feet to the fire! Here goes:

{Can you recommend a good paint to cover tiles?}

1. Paint over the crocus tiles in my kitchen. We bought our home less than three years ago, and I cannot look at these tiles for another year. So much to remodel in this house, but I’ll make my resolution manageable!

2. Revamp my Loretta Fontaine Jewelry business logo, blog and website. The logo and website looked good five years ago, and now look a bit dated. And this four month old blog APPLESandRUBIES? – time to give it a more professional shine!

3. Do a dive off the board and swim the four strokes decently -Front Crawl, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly for 25 yards each, with a proper turn at the wall between each stroke. I’m heading to my fourth Intro to Competitive Swimming Class next Tuesday. Please wish me luck on this one – My flutter kick is not fluttering.

{Penciled in dreams: a peek into my sketchbook}

4. I’m really thrilled on how amazing 2010 turned out for my business, but for 2011, a dozen new jewelry designs, including a bracelet (I’m asked every year!)

{inspiration board of designer Barbara Barry}

5. Put up a beautiful inspiration board in my jewelry studio.

May I guest blog for YOU?

6. Be asked to be a guest blogger on three blogs in 2011,  I’m ready and willing! Any topic you can dream up! Email me!!!

Wish me luck! My seventh and last  resolution would be a bit open-ended: look for bliss and balance. Balance between family (yes, I have a husband and three kids) and business, and bliss in exploring new opportunities with an open heart!


Do you have any resolutions you’d like to share? Add them in the comments below!

 Part 3: The Buffet

Here’s the third and final Behind-The-Scenes from my December 22 post APPLESandRUBIES: Pure Style Home Holiday Inspired Lunch. My inspiration for this lunch came from Lauren Liess’ Better Homes & Gardens article “Christmas Present.”

{the sides are chip-carved in Tramp Art style}

 I hoisted this treasure onto my kitchen counter for the background of the buffet. Lauren Liess’s love of warm aged brown woods (read her post on it here) has me appreciating even more the carved wooden church made by my great-grandfather Michael McQuade.

I was told he carved it in a day when pregnant women were not expected to be seen much outside the house. So he stayed inside and carved to keep his wife Lucy company, and to wait for the birth of my grandmother, Mabel.

{love this color}
Now, a funny thing about this lunch was I couldn’t find the magazine with the “Christmas Present” article in it the day I was getting everything ready! (I may have left it in the fabric store when I bought the fabric for the table runner.) This was probably for the best, so I could just focus on the palette and mood in my head. 
{fold the ribbon in the middle twice for a tight knot}
Aren’t these coppery pears so sweet tied with simple citron green grosgrain ribbons? Really easy.
 There was nothing fancy at this lunch, just sandwiches, fruits and nuts, and my little Brown Sugar Coconut Cake. Half of the guests were preschoolers!

That’s the end of my three part behind-the-scenes! Read my original December 22 post for this lunch at APPLESandRUBIES: Pure Style Home Inspired Lunch.

Thank you, Lauren for the inspiration!


Part 2: The Dessert

Behind-the-Scenes Part 2 is the Brown Sugar Coconut Cake from my December 22 post APPLESandRUBIES: Pure Style Home Holiday Inspired Lunch. My inspiration for this lunch came from Lauren Liess’s Better Homes & Gardens article “Christmas Present.”

{two 9″ round pans}
A bite of coconut cake always remind me of the holidays. (My Aunt would bake a towering multi-layer coconut cake on Christmas day when I was a child.) This is a much smaller and simpler version. The batter is a variation on a classic yellow cake – but with all brown sugar so the cake comes out very flat!

 I baked the cake in two round pans, then cut them into smaller squares, and used the scraps to “puzzle” together even more layers.

I was able to stack six layers in all, and put it all together with a sweet white buttercream frosting.

A sprinkle of coconut finishes it off, and reminds me of a gentle dusting of snow. Grated, unsweetened coconut is my favorite.

I’ll add the recipes in the comments below!

Hope you enjoyed my behind-the-scenes of Part 2: The Dessert. Read my original December 22 post for this lunch at APPLESandRUBIES: Pure Style Home Inspired Lunch, and come back soon for Part 3: The Buffet!