…almost too pretty to eat! I could stare at the beautiful colors all day.

“Emma’s Eggs” from the local food coop.



Strawberries! This photo above I snapped in the garden this morning captures every strawberry stage – from delicate white blossoms, to tiny white berries, to red fruit!


Fresh organic eco-friendly strawberries from my New York garden - no pesticides or herbicides!

{Evie in the patch}

We have a small strawberry patch in the garden and can pick about a bowlful a day. They get eaten up right away!


organic garden strawberries full of antioxidants called anthocyanins that make strawberries red

{a net goes over the plants after we pick – sorry robins!}

Here’s my husband picking from our patch. We were able to double the size of our strawberry patch this Spring. Where did we get the extra plants?

We didn’t have to buy them! I have strawberry plants planted among the flowers in the flower beds by the front of the house. Those plants have the room to send out lots and lots of runners, and baby strawberry plants root themselves among the bark mulch of the flower beds every year – and we use those plants to expand our strawberry beds.


ripe red organic garden strawberries in a bowl

{red and ripe}

Next year I’d like to double the area we have for strawberries again! They are so delicious and SO good for you. The chemicals that turns the strawberries red are called anthocyanins – very powerful antioxidants!


p.s. Tomorrow I’m at the Beekman Street Art Fair. Stop by if you are in the Saratoga Springs, New York area!

Busy, busy, busy!

I don’t do many outdoor art shows anymore – but will be at the outdoor Beekman Street Art Fair in Saratoga Springs, New York this upcoming Sunday, June 9. I’m getting new jewelry ready for the show.

And working on a little “promotion” for show the where I hope to turn a mistake into something good! More on that later… Now, back to work!


update: here’s the promotion on the show’s Facebook page: Beekman Street Art Fair Facebook Page 


I started this post to lament the end of Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine, (the last issue was printed in January 2013) and went back to find photos from a photo shoot Whole Living Magazine (then named Body + Soul) did at our old Albany, New York city home back in May 2007.

I’ve mentioned our old home in posts in the past, and here you get to see it – a 1930’s center hall colonial with green shutters! It was really emotional for me to look at these photos – Son H had just turned two years old, and it’s just before we moved to the house we live in now. I’m really attached to the places I’ve lived, and part of my heart wants to still have all the best things about those places with me forever!


Eco-friendly Living with Martha Stewart's Whole Living magazine

{One half of the Whole Living Magazine crew arriving}

Looking at these photos brings me right back that day on my old street – here’s one of two SUV’s the Whole Living Magazine team pulled up to the sidewalk with. Two editors, a stylist, photographer John Dolan and his assistant. They also carried with them flats of mums, which were quite hard to find in May, but the article was to be printed in the Fall, and they had to make the scene look right!


Celina Ottaway and photographer John Dolan shooting film with an older camera, no digital

{our old front yard}

My front yard was one of the locations shot for my talented and beautiful friend and blogger Celina Ottaway’s article. Here she is planting the mums with her son T, who is just out of range of the photograph. My daughters are watching. Evie is wearing the burgundy top, and Rosie the pink.


Celina Ottaway on Norwood Avenue, a walkable green neighborhood in the Pine Hills neighborhood of Albany, NY. Eco-friendly garden.


We had quite the peanut gallery watching the shoot. What a gorgeous day we had!


Norwood Avenue in the Pines Hills/New Scotland/Woodlawn section of Albany, New York. Earth-friendly front garden with no pesticides.

{shading his eyes}

Here’s my husband holding a wiggly Son H – he didn’t dare let him run free! I can’t believe the years have flown by so fast. This little guy is seven years old now!


Martha Stewart Living photographer John Dolan at a photo shoot in Albany, New York

{NYC based photographer John Dolan}

Famed photographer John Dolan was behind the camera. Not a digital camera, but an older large-format camera shooting with actual film! Why film?

“Digital makes everything look good, but takes more work to make it look great. I am much more efficient with film. My motto to myself is “With film, the reward is well worth all the risk.” – John Dolan


Martha Stewart Living photographer John Dolan explaining his photography to a child in Albany, New York

{look here}

Here’s John explaining to Evie how the viewfinder works. At the time, John not only did print and advertising work, but was well-known for shooting weddings, not only of celebrities like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, but was known as the go-to guy when magazine editors were getting married themselves – a very high compliment!


Ever since, I’ve looked for John’s work in magazines. His latest client list today reads from Tiffany and Co. to the Seinfeld family and Robert Redford. Here’s a gorgeous black and white photograph from his website www.JohnDolan.com


…and here’s another. The qualities of pure, natural light and the sublime capturing of human emotion are what sets his stunning photographs apart.

John Dolan’s Facebook page shows his very latest work. On the newsstands right now he shot “A Kentucky Wedding” for Country Living Magazine, and in the May 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings he shot “A Vermont Wedding”  He’s worked with Martha Stewart for over sixteen years and took the photographs for the “Compost” article in the March 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, and also shot the cover of her latest book. A very busy and talented man!


Martha Stewart Whole Living Body + Soul in Balance editorial team and Celina Ottaway leaving a photo shoot with famed NYC photographer John Dolan

{heading out}

Here’s John, Celina and crew (her son is in the striped shirt) heading out to their next location.

I miss Whole Living Magazine. It was a great source for fantastic articles on healthy living and I haven’t found another magazine that can fill it’s shoes. And I miss that old house! Those crabapple trees in the photo above were just about to bloom (they were a Mother’s Day gift) and just small sticks in the ground when we first planted them.

Every year I had pruned the trees carefully. But you can’t have everything and take everything with you – be it magazines, crabapple trees or your children’s youthful smiles.


I’m working in the studio on jewelry for the upcoming June 9 Beekman Street Art Fair in Saratoga Springs and am really drawn to roses this time of year.

Loretta Fontaine Jewelry eco-friendly 14K gold Lucy earrings with Pale Pink Rose miniature original photography

{reversible Loretta Fontaine Jewelry 14K Lucy earrings with Pale Pink Rose}

This pair is my Lucy earrings in 14K gold with my own miniature original photographs of a Pale Pink Rose. Roses are so beautiful I think it is impossible not to take a great photograph of them!


Eco-friendly New Dawn Rose bush grafted from own root stock

{New Dawn climbing rose by the front door –  ready to bloom!}

I never bothered with planting roses, thinking they were “fussy”, until I was pregnant with Rosie. Then, of course, I had to have roses! I can still remember the day I planted four rose bushes in the back yard of our old city house, very pregnant, with my sister helping me dig and my Mom watching from the deck.

I planted New Dawn, a pale pink climbing rose that grows from it’s own root stock and is therefore very hardy, unlike grafted roses. Three of the four rose vines took off and soon smothered the fence I trained them on, covering it with gorgeous blooms. The fourth bush never thrived, where it was planted the fence dipped into a poorly drained area and it must have had wet feet.

When we moved, I dug up the sad, nearly dead rose and planted it near the front door of our new house. The rose loves it’s new home because it’s since been growing like crazy! You can see in the photograph above it is just about to bloom!


Tobi Fairly eco-friendly new dawn roses in her Little Rock Arkansas back yard

{Tobi Fairly’s gorgeous backyard – and New Dawn roses}

What will they look like soon? Here’s an Instagram photograph from interior designer Tobi Fairly, showing her beautiful New Dawn Roses blooming in her backyard! Little Rock, Arkansas gets it’s rose love early!


Loretta Fontaine Jewelry eco-friendly 14K gold triple lucy necklace with original miniature photographs of a pale pink rose

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry 14K Triple Lucy necklace with Pale Pink Rose}

Here’s another rose necklace I’ll be bringing to the festival…


Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver Maria necklace with Blush Rose, photo jewelry

{Loretta Fontaine Jewelry sterling silver Maria necklace with Blush Rose}

…and another necklace with my miniature original photograph of a blush rose. I adore the old-fashioned look of this rose – very romantic!


Loretta Fontaine Jewelry Maria necklace sterlingsilver with photo of pink forget me not

{reverse of necklace – pink forget-me-not!}

The jewelry is reversible – the “other” side of the same necklace has a photograph of a pink forget-me-not. Forget-me-nots are cheerfully blooming on the side of my house right now.

If you are in Saratoga Springs June 9, please come see me, my “roses”,  jewelry, photography and recycled blank notecards at the Beekman Street Fair!


We’ve lived in our house for over four years now, and we’ve always raked the leaves off the lawn but this is the first year I’ve raked all the leaves out of the yard – including those under the trees and bushes.

Does removing leaf litter decrease the number of ticks in the yard?

{raking leaf litter under tree and bushes}

I raked up all the “leaf litter” in an effort to control ticks in our 1/3 acre yard, and truth be told, it makes me kind of sad.

I keep the front yard neat and clean, but the back yard has been left very natural and carefree. I loved the way the fallen leaves looked, and knew they kept the ground cool for the plants, gave birds places to uproot insects, and as the leaves decomposed, put nutrients back to the ground.

When I was a camp counselor at a 4H camp in the Adironadacks I taught a class to the kids where we’d dig into the layers of leaf or pine needle litter to see the way everything decomposed into soil, and what insects we’d find there. (Lots of worms and centipedes, I remember, never any ticks!)

But if you look at the life cycle of the tick, you can see where removing all the leaf litter in your yard can reduce their numbers (info courtesy of http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2825/):

Deer Tick Life Cycle

The deer tick passes through four life stages (egg, larva, nymph, adult), over a two year period

Egg to Larvae

Eggs are fertilized in the fall and deposited in leaf litter the following spring. They emerge as larvae in late summer of that year, seeking their first blood meal. The tiny larva crawls around the forest floor and onto low-lying vegetation looking for an appropriate host. Their first host is generally a mouse or other medium-sized mammal or bird. Once attached, the larvae embed their mouth parts and feed for several days. If the host is infected with a disease such as Lyme, the tick may be infected during this feeding. The larvae then drop off their host into the leaf litter where they molt into the next stage, the nymph, remaining dormant until the following spring.

Larvae to Nymph

During the spring and early summer of the next year the nymphs end their dormancy and begin to seek a host. Nymphs are commonly found on the forest floor in leaf litter and on low lying vegetation. Their host primarily consists of mice and other rodents, deer, birds and unfortunately humans. Most cases of Lyme disease are reported from May through August, which corresponds to the peak activity period for nymphs. This suggests that the majority of Lyme disease cases are transmitted by nymphal deer ticks. After feeding for several days the nymph ticks drop off to the forest floor.

Nymph to Adult

Over the next few months the nymph molts into the larger adult tick, which emerges in fall, with a peak in October through November. Both male and female adults find and feed on a host, then the females lay eggs sometime after feeding.

Adult ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs approximately one meter above the ground. When an animal or person brushes by the vegetation, they quickly let go and climb onto the host. Adult ticks feed on their host for five to seven days. The female will become engorged with blood, providing nourishment for her developing eggs. After feeding and mating, the female tick drops into the leaf litter where she lays thousands of eggs. She will become dormant as the temperature drops below 40° F.

Raking leaf litter to prevent rodents and lyme disease in landscaping a yard

{before and after raking leaf litter}

If you have ever seen a nymph tick, you know how poppy-seed tiny they are. (I took one off from behind my daughter Rosie’s ear!) The state of New York provides some guidelines on preventing Lyme disease and ticks in the yard on their web site http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2825/:

Creating a Tick-Free Zone Around Your Home

While deer ticks are most abundant in wooded areas, they are also commonly found in our lawns and shrubs. There are a number of measures homeowners can take to reduce the possibility of being bitten by a tick on their property.

Ticks and their primary hosts – mice, chipmunks and other small mammals – need moisture, a place away from direct sunlight and a place to hide. The cleaner you keep the area around the house, the less likely your chances of being bitten by a tick.

Although it may not be possible to create a totally tick-free zone, taking the following precautions will greatly reduce the tick population in your yard.

    • Keep grass mowed. Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn.
  • Restrict the use of groundcover, such as pachysandra in areas frequented by family and roaming pets.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles.
  • Discourage rodent activity. Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home.
  • Move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house.
  • Manage pet activity; keep dogs and cats out of the woods to reduce ticks brought into the home.
  • Use plantings that do not attract deer (contact your local Cooperative Extension or garden center for suggestions) or exclude deer through various types of fencing.
  • Move children’s swing sets and sand boxes away from the woodland edge and place them on a wood chip or mulch type foundation.
  • Trim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight.
  • Adopt dryer or less water-demanding landscaping techniques with gravel pathways and mulches. Create a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel border between lawn and woods or stonewalls. Consider areas with decking, tile, gravel and border or container plantings in areas by the house or frequently traveled.
  • Widen woodland trails.
  • If you consider a pesticide application as a targeted treatment, do not use any pesticide near streams or any body of water, as it may kill aquatic life or pollute the water itself.



On that last note, our yard borders a creek, so I’m adverse against using pesticides – for the health of my family and the quality of the water in the creek that flows to the Hudson River.


Using mulch to create a tick safe zone

{Tick Safe Zone}

The New York State publication Be Tick Free: A Guide For Preventing Lyme Disease, has a drawing of a home landscape.

Have you come across any advice for landscaping your yard to prevent ticks and Lyme disease?


Newspaper article written about Loretta Fontaine and the EcoHappy Tree Project launch in Delmar, New York

{in the paper!}

Here’s the online link to the Spotlight News article on the EcoHappy Native Tree Project launch:


Thank you Marcy Velte for the wonderful interview. I love it when “happy” news can make the front page!


When the local paper arrived today I expected to flip through it to find if the the interview on the EcoHappy Native Tree Project was in it. No need to flip – the story was right on the front page – “Roots Of Knowledge: Delmar Resident Launches Project to Cultivate Awareness of Native Plant Species.” Wow!

When a link to the article from Spotlight News comes online, I will share it with you. In the meantime, here are some photographs from the May 8 launch of the EcoHappy Native Tree Project:

Green Living Advocate and blogger Loretta Fontaine at the launch of the EcoHappy Native Tree Project.

We gave away 100 trees that day in my front yard. Each tree was a two-year-old bare root native white flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).


Native White Flowering Dogwood Trees in Bucket

Here’s Son H with a tree – we kept the bare root trees in buckets during the giveaway. When people came by to pick them up, we wrapped them in newspaper and tagged them with planting instructions.

Small bare root trees are easy to plant, and planting them directly into the earth minus that big ball of dirt on potted trees gives the young roots a great start. Bare root trees may look like a forlorn “stick with roots”, but they establish themselves more quickly than potted trees with the proper care.


At the launch of the EcoHappy Native Tree Project, the eco-friendly giveaway of 100 native white flowering dogwood trees cornus florida in Delmar, NY

These dogwood trees were just starting to bud – perfect for planting! Son H’s First Grade classmate “Y” and her little sister picked up a tree!


Using leaf cookie cutters to make Maple Leaf Shaped Cookies for the EcoHappy Native Tree Project launch!

We had to have treats – I was up late the night before baking. The “Maple Leaf” sugar cookies and peach lemonade were a hit!


A child holding an eco-friendly bareroot white flowering dogwood tree. Part of planting native trees for the launch of the EcoHappy Native Tree Project

Here’s my sunny and cheerful neighbor “M” with her tree!


Part of an eco-friendly event, the launch of the EcoHappy Native Tree Project drew young and old alike to plant a native tree.

As the one hundred trees were given out, I had a chance to talk with everyone about the ideas I had for the EcoHappy Native Tree Project.  I guess I was “preaching to the choir” when it came talking  with people who came out of their way to plant a tree, but it was great to listen to what people thought about my ideas.


Green Living advocate and blogger Loretta Fontaine with Dora Swan of Fin, Your Fishmonger (dishing up eco-friendly sustainable seafood in the capital region)

Such a great time! Everything went very well, even with a big downburst of rain. Luckily we had a canopy up, and of course the trees did not mind the rain at all! (The photo on the right is with Dora Swan of Fin, a local sustainable seafood shop. She also sells at our local farmer’s market. So nice to see so many farmer’s market friends stop by! I sell my jewelry and photography at the indoor Delmar Winter Farmer’s Market, but hope to have a booth one time at this summer farmer’s market with info on the EcoHappy Tree Project.)


Loretta's mother Anne Fontaine and Loretta's daughter Rosie. Anne inspired her daughter  to start the EcoHappy Native Tree Project.

This last photo they printed on page 20 in the newspaper – and is very special to me! Here is my mother with my daughter Rosie. I guess they can’t print everything said in an interview, but one thing I talked about that didn’t make the cut were the two people who influenced me to start the EcoHappy Tree Project – and my Mom was one of them! (That can be another post!)

I hope you enjoyed these photos and I’ll post a link to the newspaper article, soon!


When I was looking at what to use to cover over the beige walls of the open living/dining/great room as we remodeled our home, one of the products I looked at was American Claya non-toxic earth plaster made in the United States. I had first seen a sample board of this beautiful product ( in Loma, Lomalina, Marittimo, Porcelina and Enjare formulas) about three years ago when I was exploring  Green Depot in Portland, Oregon.

Later, I went to a workshop at Green Conscience Home in Saratoga Springs, New York where I was able to mix and apply American Clay to large drywall samples. Truth be told, the cost (oh, I had a lot of square footage to cover!) and labor involved was a little daunting to me, and I went with Mythic Paint, instead.

But look – here’s a wonderful use of American Clay in a home – as an fantastic grey accent wall! Something totally doable for people wanting to give American Clay a try!

This is the beautiful Hollcroft Residence, west of Forest Heights in Portland, Oregon by Giulietti/Schouten Architects. (The original plans for the home included a concrete accent wall – but American Clay was used instead over drywall.)

American Clay Enjarre is a rough texture, economical earth plaster mixed with water and tinted with pigment

{Detail of American Clay’s “Enjarre” on the wall – Enjarre acts as it’s own base coat and is the most economical American Clay option.}

I am going to guess that Enjarre, the American Clay formula with the “roughest” finish was trowelled on. The clay base comes in large bags and is mixed with water, and the colors are mixed in as smaller bags of pigments. This grey shade looks like it could be “Ashland” which would be a combination of Wildhorse Smoke and Savannah pigments (got to love the names they came up with for the pigments!).  What a fabulous feel this wall of rough grey adds to the room.


photo source here



There has been a real chill in the air around here the last few days. It’s not uncommon to have frost in May in the Albany, New York area, and local apple orchards have been putting out fans at night to draw warm air down around the apple blossoms to keep their crops.

I just biked back from a yoga class at The Breathing Room in Delmar, (thank you Karen!), and I couldn’t believe I was biking in sleet! To take the chill off the air I’ve made a nice fire in our wood stove.

Jotul large F 500 Oslo cast iron woodstove buring wood lath

{the wood lath fire glowing in our Jotul F 500 Oslo cast iron woodstove}

I’m burning old wood lath. Wooden lath is small strips of wood that were nailed to wood studs to support the plaster in older homes. (We have a 70’s home, and this lath came from the demolition of a 1930’s bathroom).

Wooden lath recovered from a 1930's bathroom demolition

{wood lath on our deck}

It’s nice to put something to use that would have been sent to the dump.

Strips of wooden lath showing nails

{wooden lath detail}

Old, weathered wood is so beautiful – look at this old lath. The grey areas are from the old plaster, the green tints are from sitting in our yard for a year! I’ve seen recycled lath used to add character to  old walls in newer homes. But my favorite use of old lath is when  the plaster is taken off and the lath exposed. Exposed lath shows the history of an older house and the craftsmanship that went into building a wall in the days before drywall.

A drawing of Frank Gehry's Santa Monica Home

{Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica home}

When I wrote my Master’s thesis in Architecture (it was called Interventions On Exisiting Structures), Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica bungalow was one of my examples, and he exposed a lot of the wooden lath in his home. (See more pics of this most famous pink house in the world here.)

Darryl Carter's Virginia Farmhouse bathroom with exposed wood lath

{Darryl Carter’s Virginia Farmhouse}

Here’s a beautiful example of exposed wooden lath from Darryl Carter. Darryl’s interior’s have such a studied, exquisite look. The lath contrasts so nicely with the white walls. This 1840’s house is Darryl’s home in Virginia, find more photos here.

photo source: Elle Decor

Are your walls made of drywall or plaster & wooden lath? …or something else?