Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Charlotte & tipit

Images by Sarah Worden of Charlotte Fine Jewelry of Memphis and

To wrap up our wedding, there is one tiny detail I would very much like to highlight. I have been a huge fan of this innovative jewelry for well over a decade. It is a perfect combination of genius engineering and limitless creativity, bound in precious metals and gems by it's designer, Wolf-Peter Schwarz, and his creative team. I was first introduced to the German made collections by chance in Kansas City, where the first US gallery had just opened. I was so taken by the concept I applied for a job and was fortunate to have spent my last two years of study at the Kansas City Art Institute working for such an incredible company.
In essence, it's all interchangeable, so the images you are seeing above are all the same ring, simply combined with different pieces. Your center stone, or head piece, could be a diamond, a saphire, a topaz, a garnet, a pearl, an aquamarine, a peridot, a whatever you choose depending on your occasion, your mood, or your attire. From there you can then combine that center piece with hundreds of different accent pieces; from industrial steels, to delicate ornate golds, to modern technicolor acrylics, to vintage-esque hand painted enamels . . . And it doesn't stop there. Once your eyes are shiny and satisfied with your self styled design, you may then take that combination and wear it on a ring, a necklace pendant, a brooch, a bracelet, an earring . . .
It's hard to believe but see for yourself Charlotte & Tipit. What is even more unbelievable to me is that this company is still one of the best kept secrets in North America. If your in Europe you have a wide variety of galleries to visit in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but if your located in the US, Canada, or the Caribbean you will need to get yourself to Sante Fe or Memphis. Sarah Worden of Charlotte Fine Jewelry of Memphis, was an angel in assisting me with my engagement and wedding pieces (I already have 6 varieties of gold, silver, and stainless steel rings to wear them with). It took a dozen e-mailed correspondences with images of various combinations before I could make up my mind. I ended up choosing the peridot oval for my engagement piece as I have always gravitated towards that lush, mossy green and the stone historically symbolizes love, truth, faithfulness, and loyalty. I have never been a diamond girl so knew I would steer clear of that tradition for my wedding ring. The chosen pieces were a white pearl, good luck for a happy and successful marriage, and a square of white saphires, symbols of sincerity and constancy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The details done right in black and white

Sepia to be more exact but for all the die hards . . . . .
Venue-Fleur de lys Villa
Design- Pepper Key Stacie
Dress-Ebay $250!!!
Heels-Le Chateau $20, dyed in the washing machine a pale yellow
Cowboy Boots-Ebay
Brides Engagment and wedding rings- interchangeable jewelry brilliantly engineered for designers and other creative types charlotte & tipit
Bouquet and wedding dress brooches-something old, antiques of my great grandmothers gifted by my mother
Bridesmen and grooms ties-skull print by RokWear on Etsy
Grooms suit-100% linen Le Chateau $300
Groomswomen gowns-Montreal's wedding district, St Hubert St. bargain rack $20 each
Brides Hair-  Shenique Higgs
Wedding planner- Teresa Brunner Teresa Brunner
Bouquet and boutonniere- Environmental Arts
Music-NaDa Duo
Cake topper-I wanted to incorporate the Norwegian tradition of a bridal crown without actually having to wear one myself, gifted by my cousin Jenny in Salt Lake City
Cake Design-incorporated Caribbean architectural details of Fleur de Lys Villa
Groom's cake-traditional French croquembouche by Pierik Marizou of Caicos Cafe
Beach cocktail-Lemon Lucy's with cucumber garnish
Beach appetizers-traditional French pate's and cheeses from Caicos Cafe
Coffee Station- world famous Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee purchased straight from the plantation on our hiking trip to Jamaica
Cake tablecloth- a dear family friend, MaryAlice Tobins, wedding gift; an antique eyelet used at dinner parties my grandparents attended in the 1940's.
Ceremony program- DIY, modified from Martha Stewart "what tree did you fall from" template
Table decor and florals-DIY, garden clippings from the villa

A Caribbean Courtyard Reception

After kicking off our shoes and enjoying the chance to feel like kids again (complete with games and snacks) the sinking of the sun signaled it was time to head back to the villa for the reception. I thought the evening couldn't get more beautiful than that beachside sunset, but the welcoming first sight of over 100 lanterns sparkling in the courtyard trees truly took my breath away. I couldn't help but take a walkabout to just marvel in the atmosphere; the first glimpse of the cake that was more beautiful than I imagined, the tables bursting with green foliage as if they had grown right into the garden. All of the time spent dreaming up the details became worthwhile in that moment.
A suggestion of our planner Teresa was to sit at a dinner table for just the two of us, to take a moment of private celebration and conversation. I'm certain we will look back on that meal with great fondness, not only being surrounded by divine food and wine, but centered around our nearest and dearest. We had a panaramic view of each and every guest which was more endearing than words can possibly describe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cocktail Hour on the Beach

The majority of couples who get married in the Turks and Caicos choose to do so on the beach. As this post will testamant to, it's a beyond beautiful backdrop for a wedding. We are both ocean lovers so wouldn't dare leave it out of the picture . . . literally! Our photographers (Illeana, Kellie, and David) from did a fantastic job of capturing exactly what it felt like to be there: Caribbean carefree! While we were enjoying the dangerously refreshing Lemon Lucy cocktail and admiring the sunset, caterers and wedding planner Teresa Brunner of were hard at work setting the courtyard for the dinner reception.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Garden Wedding

The ceremony took place in our favorite place at home, the courtyard where we have spent hours and hours at work, at rest, and at play. A garden wedding is ideal in that Mother Nature has already provided the majority of your decor (the gamble is if she will politely cooperate with your wedding plans). I tried to keep Mother Nature happy by featuring her handiwork prominently; flowers picked from our garden for the table arrangements, a tree washed ashore and draped with ribbon to host our well wishes, shells, branches, and various other beach finds displayed in every available spot. The flattery worked! She held her temper and we had three beautiful days, sandwiched between two cold fronts, timed perfectly for our bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinner, and the big day.

The largest DIY preparation was removing the labels and washing 150 plus varieties of mason jars and glass bottles. Our spaghetti and jelly jars became tea light lanterns, peanut tins became shell adorned flower pots, and dressing, sauce, and water bottles became shabby chic vases. The glue gun saw more action those six months than ever before! I bought a bargain (slightly water damaged) bulk roll of upholstery fabric in Montreal and used it to sew an aisle runner, a photo backdrop, bride and groom chair covers, and a collar for our ring bearer. It was also utilised as backdrops for the "wish you were here" photo collage antique door, the beer garden sign, and the guest favors, personalized shadowboxes (the second largest DIY project). My idea was to have each guest find their dinner place by locating their photo placed inside a shadowbox set at the table. The activity was meant to be reminiscent of looking through a photo album, a favorite family pastime, as well as an ice breaker for recently introduced guests.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Wedding

This week will be dedicated to posting our wedding, which took place on January 9th, 2010. After 6 years of mutually avoiding the matter of marriage, little mentions began to emerge in 2008. These little tidbits of conversation established that IF we got married, we would have a small wedding, family would be foremost, and we would absolutely stick to a reasonable budget. In 2009 the "if" changed to a "when" and it was agreed it should be celebrated in the sole place we deemed appropriate; the dream we built into reality, the dwelling we call home, the place we most wanted to share with our far away families. In actuality we did stick to our guns. We had a small wedding with 50 guests, primarily family, who we were lucky enough have travel far and wide. Our families were at our sides and graciously at our service, especially my brothers as my bridesmaids and Stephane's sisters as his groomswomen. We researched the cost of the average wedding and swore to stay within those boundaries, a feat accomplished thanks to many do it yourself money savers.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Matt and Amie's Beach Wedding

all photos courtesy of pepperkeystacie
Congratulations to the happy couple! As you can see it was another beautiful day in paradise. This month marks the third anniversary of collaboration between wedding planner Teresa Brunner and I. Teresa launched her company, Tropical DMC, in 2006 after 8 years of working in the hospitality industry. From the very first project Teresa hired me for; a large scale wedding with a NYC design industry bride and highly detailed decor, held at one of the most exclusive and expansive villas in the Turks and Caicos, we bonded. The week long production, full of electrical overloads and various other noteworthy challenges, proved we had a fantastic working dynamic. Teresa amazed me with her sense of style, her people and problem solving skills, but it was her brilliant sense of humor that assured me I would work with her on any future project.
Our wedding today was assisted by a new intern, Jessica, a 15 year old student at the Collegiate. Jessica did a stellar job on her first day and her excitement was completely contagious. When asked why she was interested in wedding planning, she responded that she enjoyed being creative, liked helping people, and felt it was an out of the ordinary job that would be far from boring. At the end of the day, when asked her if wedding planning was what she expected, her answer was already written over her beaming face, in her enormous smile. She absolutely loved being a part of the action, part of making this moment memorable for the couple and beautifully designed for the enjoyment of all present. The ceremony took place in front of the Sands resort and a tented beach reception followed at Bay Bistro.

Friday, March 19, 2010

For Sterling

Happy 18th birthday little brother! You may or may not remember that you were my photo subject for many journalism and art projects my junior and senior years in high school. This particular photo was taken at your favorite stomping ground, then and now . . . on the mountain! Before the Broken Spur Cafe was a restaurant, it was the Mountaineer's Mercantile, a charming little establishment with everything from wool sweaters to dry goods. When you were 5 it had a western style petting zoo around back, which I think I may have been more excited about than you at the time. You were such a good sport that day; the hat was too big and kept falling off, the boots were probably a size small, and the turkeys weren't exactly friendly. You didn't seem to mind these little excursions I took you on, I don't remember you ever throwing a tantrum when I dressed you up or made you my model. And today, at 18, you still carry that easy attitude and open mind. Whatever the future brings your way, retain those qualities and life will be good. Period. Today on your way up that winding road to go "shreddin" on your snowboard, glance over at the Broken Spur and remember that your big sis thinks your star, forever and always.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

For Larry

March is full of birthdays on my calendar, and two more expectant are soon to be added! Today marks my fathers, a perfect occasion to share this blog with my family. Since St. Patrick's feast day has barely ended, an Irish toast to you dad:
"Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Pattie's Day the Caribbean way

Beer Cup Punch
1.5 oz gin
1 bottle ginger beer
1 bottle lager
.5 oz lemon juice
splash of soda water

recipe from bar none drinks
(I subsituted ale for lager for sake of the photo) Now it's time for a toast - 'Slainte!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Engagement photos - Fleur de Lys Villa

All images by brilliant
We purchased property on the island of Providenciales in 2004. After years of dreaming up the design we desired, we broke ground in April of 2005 with intentions to build a home architectually steeped in Caribbean influence, meant to feel as if it were standing long before it was actually constructed. With the pairing of a fine woodworker and a designer, both eager to learn the ropes of construction, there wasn't a square inch untouched by our own hands. The first year passed and the to do list grew versus shrank; modifications, more details, and the learning curve of landscaping kept us occupied for two more years. The upstairs patio was converted into a home office, the dining room was encased in louvered windows, the pool was joyfully placed, and the addition of an artists studio was deemed necessary to save the rest of the villa from my paint splatters. By 2009, the toolboxes were put away and the infamous task list was finally empty. It was time to celebrate. Wedding posts to follow soon . . . .

Engagement photos - Beach

Our engagement session on Leeward beach, images by brilliant

Stephane and I met in 2003 when I had just moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands. I arrived on a 6 month set design contract and likewise, Stephane had reached the same destination in the same manner, as a carpenter for a village renovation in 1999. His travel route began in Quebec, mine in Wyoming with several city stops along the way. Though his first language was French, and shamefully my only language is (still) English, that little seed of connection and curiosity was firmly planted. Six years later, the garden had grown to exactly what we desired. In the summer of 2009 we decided it was time to take the plunge.

Our engagement session was an unusually overcast day in November. Brides, let these photos be the proof that a grey day doesn't necessarily mean grey photos, as long as you have a great photographer. We could not believe our phenomenal luck when Beluga by chance came sailing by in our distant background. This beautiful Polynesian catamaran, with it's signature green and white sail, was where we had one of our very first dates. Thanks to Stephane throwing me overboard at sunset, and the following retaliation shove off deck by our dear friend Captain Tim, we had no other choice but to snuggle up under a wool blanket for warmth. For couples seeking romance in the TCI, a sail aboard Beluga is sure not to disappoint and the hosts, Schooner and El Capitan, are guaranteed to entertain.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blog beginnings

A display of current shadowboxes in the Pepper Key Studio. Photo by Brilliant TC

I first began frequenting blogs while working on an art contract for a large resort on Providenciales. I had an order for 680 shadowboxes, which I was thrilled to land and zealous to start. A quarter of the way through it I began to lose my artistic mojo. When I lived in the United States it was an easy fix. I would visit an art museum, a library, an architectural salvage, a gallery, a flea market, or my favorite shopping district, and presto . . . my mojo was back. Living on a small Caribbean island the options are far fewer. After many visits to beautiful beaches, nature walks, and slow drives through charming areas like Blue Hills, I still couldn't find it. I buried myself in my books in my office and then turned to the laptop for help. The internet became my mode of transport and blogs became my library, my gallery, my museum. All free, easy to access, and full of great insight and ideas. I am now a loyal follower of a select few, and always on the lookout for a new blogpspot that catches my eye or my interests. A big thanks to fellow bloggers who make life easier, smarter, craftier, more eco friendly, etc. You make the world a better place!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blue Hills

The island I call home is Providenciales, the most populated and developed in the Turks and Caicos chain of approximately 40 islands and cays. Providenciales was formerly known as Blue Hills, and luckily this charming name is still in use for one of the most quaint and colorful areas on the island. A drive down Blue Hills road one will see traditional and contemporary architecture, large bustling churches, seaside cemeteries, and brightly painted boats and native sloops. All along the road, just feet away, lies the arching palm tree lined beach, one of the few outside the national park where you may go shelling. The people dotting the streets are just as noteworthy as the environment; schoolchildren in uniform, fisherman at work, teenagers playing hoops, men slapping down dominoes, and women walking to mass in big beautiful hats and tailored suits. Not only is it a fantastic place to take a slow drive and soak in the sights, it's highly recommended you stop into one of the restaurants and soak in some native fare and beverage. Here you may just be able to watch your conch being caught, knocked, and prepared before it sits on your plate. The photo above is one of my first portraits of Blue Hills, taken in 2004.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Name origin of the Turks and Caicos

Terrestrial globe made by Vincenzo Coronelli for Louis XIV, currently displayed in the Bibliothèque nationale François Mitterrand in Paris.

How the Turks and Caicos came to be named as such is still partially shrouded in mystery. Voyages in search of salt set sail in 1585 for "Island Caycos," a derivative of "caya hico," the Lucayan term for "string of islands". The "Turks" is where it gets more interesting. The rare color map "Archipelague du Mexique" pictured in the last posting is the first time the term was recorded, in 1688 by the leading cartographer of his time, Vincenzo Coronelli. Vincenzo had produced his first work at 16 and his industrious career of 140 separate works ended with his death in Venice at the age of 68. The partnership of Coronelli and Jean-Baptiste Nolin Sr. is said to have resulted in many of the best regional maps of the Americas of the period. On the said map, next to Grand Turk is written "I. de Viejo, Conciua ou Turks". Some historians have deciphered this as a comment, erroneously written, which should have read "Concina ou Turks," or "where the Turks gather". In these days, Turks was a reference to pirates. Ottoman ships, manned by Turkish sailors, had the reputation of dealing in piracy, as did some Bermudians, who were beginning to settle in the TCI. Another popular theory, as told on the National Trust tour of the Cheshire Hall Plantation on Providenciales, relays that Europeans first sighting the islands witnessed hundreds of red Persian turbans on the horizon. What they misinterpreted as Turkish inhabitants was actually the plentiful native red capped cactus, thus named the "Turk's Head Cactus".
Information in this post was gathered from various sources including Nigel Sadler's article "The Bermudians and the Start of the Salt Industry, " Chapter 10 in A History of the Turks and Caicos Islands Ed. Dr. Carlton Mills. Image from

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Archipelague du Mexique

Antique map image from
archived auction Lot 375
By: Coronelli/Nolin Subject: Caribbean Date: 1742

Lukka Kaya - People of the Islands

Two near neighbors of the Turks and Caicos, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Cuba, have been inhabited since AD 1 by Amerindian “Guanahacibibes”, hunters and gatherers who most likely traveled by way of the Yucatan channel. By Ad 500 descendants of the Guiana’s and Venezuela were moving south to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They brought new practices; swidden agriculture, canoe building, and pottery making, specifically a bright red Saladoid pottery making style that made their settlements easily identifiable for archeologists. Unlike their predecessors who had to migrate when their diet resources were scarce, villages were occupied for years thanks to cultivation of staple foods such as manioc (yucca or cassava), beans, peppers, and sweet potatoes. Over time these groups of South American descendants eventually grew to become knows as a single people who referred to themselves as Taino, meaning “noble” in their native language. The earliest Taino habitation to be found to date in the entire Bahamian archipelago, lies on Grand Turk. It has been concluded that around AD 750 Taino’s from the northern coast of Hispaniola arrived by canoe on Turks and Caicos shores. Centuries of evolution in farming, fishing, boat building, salt collecting, wood carving, language, ritual, and religion later, these Taino’s of the Bahamian archipelago had culturally evolved into the Lukka Kaya, “People of the Islands”.
This post is a summary of “Our First Colonists: The Pre-Columbian People of the Turks and Caicos Islands” by Josiah Marvel, Chapter 7 in A History of the Turks and Caicos Islands Ed. Dr. Carlton Mills

Friday, March 5, 2010


Previous post photo courtesy of Wikimedia, photo above courtesy of PKS (pepperkeystacie).
Posted by Picasa

Halimeda and Penicillus

Sounds like something out of mythology, but Halimeda and Penicillus are not Greek gods, they are actually algae species, two of the most common in the Turks and Caicos. Using sunlight and chlorophyll they extract calcium carbonate from seawater. They grow rapidly but expire rapidly too, at which point the organic portion of the algae dissolves into crystals which are expelled onto the ocean floor. (I think that’s a visual to be filed for painting inspiration, crystals slowly meandering to the bottom of the sea). Halimeda segments make up a major component of sand, and Penicillus, particles of marl, the fine white mud covering the banks. The coral reefs surrounding the islands are also a calcium carbonate producer, simultaneously providing homes for many organisms that are also producing the shallow water carbonate; shellfish, sea urchins, and sponges. These results of sedimentation are how the Turks and Caicos Islands were formed, and are continuing to form today. As mountain peaks and most land masses are slowly shrinking from erosion, these islands are perpetually expanding.

This post is a summary of a portion of Brian Riggs article “Geology of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” chapter 2 in A History of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ed. Dr. Carlton Mills

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Inaugural Post

It seems only natural that the birth of this blog be about the birth of "Les Isles Caiquos," the archipelago now known as the Turks and Caicos Islands. Looking at a globe you can barely see the specks, but scientists have discovered that these islands, and the Bahamas, never fit into the Pangaea puzzle, there simply was not room for them. Studies have found the majority of the continents contain volcanic rock that dates back billions of years, while the T.C.I. and the Bahamas contain rock, various types of limestone, only about 150 million years old, even from samples taken 20,000 feet underground. Limestone is comprised mainly of calcium carbonate which can be formed both chemically and biologically. Chemically speaking, calcium carbonate sweats, or forms precipitation, in shallow, warm sea water. A rise in sea temperature and a "gentle agitation of the wind over the banks" create tiny solid pellets called ooids (bet you never knew about that word). These ooids look like miniature eggs under the microscope (image above) and they float around gathering layers of calcium carbonate until they have enough weight to sink to the bottom, where they pick up additional minerals from the seabed. If your planning on taking a walk on Grace Bay beach, your bare feet will be immersed in oolitic sand, you'll be strolling on a pile it took hundreds of thousands of years to create. More to come on the biological contribution of limestone in forming the Turks and Caicos. This post is a summary of a portion of Brian Riggs article "Geology of the Turks and Caicos Islands."