Monday, May 31, 2010

National Heroes Day

National Hereos Day takes place in the Turks and Caicos Islands on the last Monday of May.  This day was created to honor James Alexander George Smith McCartney, better known as J.A.G.S., the country's first chief minister who served these islands from August 1976 until his untimely death in a plane crash over New Jersey in May of 1980.  Jags McCartney was born on June 30, 1945 on Grand Turk to an accomplished Jamaican barrister, Harvey O.B. Fernandez McCartney, and Sally (Taylor), a Sunday school pianist from TCI.  The couple named their son after a successful Jamaican barrister and legislator, James Alexander George Smith who died in 1942. 

From wikipedia

"J.A.G.S. McCartney was the leader and founder of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), a grassroots organization established to address the many social and economic ills that had been pervasive throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands. A central goal of his was the attainment of self-determination for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. McCartney had particularly sought to mobilize the youth in the political process. A charismatic, dynamic and visionary figure, McCartney was determined to usher in a new Constitution that would foster and safeguard the rights of all Turks and Caicos Islanders, create new opportunities for citizens and advance the Country. Assuming office at age 31, McCartney remains one of the world’s youngest democratically elected leaders in history."

To read more on the history of this great man, please visit 107fm

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jennifer Maude Purse Party

Yesterday I attended a fabulous party hosted by Jennifer Maude, an island artist and friend of mine.  Mrs Maude is oh so talented and as versatile as she is stylish.  Her paintings are contemporary; typically incorporating graphics such as text, damask, or floral pattern into her depictions.  Her series of island portraits of the Turks and Caicos common laborer are my personal favorites, the juxtaposition of such detailed facial features on the men sternly standing in their dreamlike other world backgrounds.  But she doesn't stop at paintings, Jen creates jewelry, a line of eco friendly bath and beauty products, handpainted cards and stationary sets, and last but not least the highlight of the party, bohemian chic handbags.  I adore her latest retro marketing campaign, please see more on facebook.

Photographs of the Purse Party at Jen's studio at One Lofts by Pepper Key Stacie

If the above has not sold you on a one of a kind DIY handbag, please read below to see how affordable her creations are.  You may find a selection of Jen's work or catch one of her life drawing classes at Re*Store

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 28th Wedding

Congratulations to the bride and groom who wed on Grace Bay Beach just between neighboring resorts, The Regent Grand and Villa Renaissance, both beautiful properties where this couple and their small group of guests stayed.  The ringbearer was too cute in his white linen suit with retro sailors collar and oversize buttons. The peaches and cream bridesmaid dresses coordinated with the coral bouganvilla bouquets and ceremony decor, but we didn't know the scene would complement the gorgeous Turks and Caicos sunset that was to pass shortly after these two said "I do!" 

All images by Pepper Key Stacie

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vakre Hjem & Interior Magazine

To wrap up my postings on Norway I must relay this gem of a magazine I discovered on my trip.  I knew based on the cover image and paperweight alone, I was going to fall in love with what I would find inside.  I just didn't realize I would adore 99% of what I saw inside, despite the fact that I could not read a word!  Vakre Hjem & Interior literally translates to "Beautiful Homes and Interiors."

Images by Annette Nordstrom of STEEN ART Design

Images by Ragnar Omarsson

Images by Carina Olander

Images by Signe Dons

Images by Ragnar Omarsson

Images by Tom Haga

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


All Images by Pepper Key Stacie

I stayed at the Steens Hotel, a fantastic historic bed and breakfast a 15 minute walk to Bryggen.   The images above were taken from a neighboring park, apartment, and the Naturhist Museum gardens.

Bryggen, the old wharf in Bergen, is known worldwide as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The area Bryggen rests on is the oldest part of the city of Bergen, which was founded in 1070.  In 1360 a Kontor, or foreign trading post, was set up there for the Hanseatic League.  I enjoyed a Hansa (originally made in Bergen, name stems from the shortened term for Hanseatic League) beer while watching the boats and people on the wharf.  I then walked through a narrow boardwalk passageway between the buildings to find my dinner spot, Bryggen Tracteursted.  I chose a traditional Nordic meal of smoked salmon soaked in aquavit over grilled asparagus followed by a tomato based cod stew.  After drinking the last drop of red wine and eating the last crumb of bread (consistently nutty, hearty and delicious all throughout my travels in Norway) at my candle lit table (another consistent tradition for all meals) I thought to myself I couldn't have asked for a better last evening in Norway.

Scenic views en route to Bergen from Rosendal


All images by Pepper Key Stacie
This stone features the Norwegian coat of arms, the golden crowned lion with ax, an insignia from the High Middle Ages

Kvinnherad church is one of the oldest stone churches in western Norway.  It was completed in a mixture of Romanesque and gothic styles in 1250.  It was subject to the Barony Rosendal until 1910 and the first families lie embalmed in a separate sepulchre.

The Barony Rosendal, the smallest castle in Scandinavia, was built by Danish nobleman Ludwig Rosenkrantz.  When he married Karen Mowatt, Norway's richest heiress at the time, the farmland was given as a wedding gift.  The castle was completed in 1665 but the English renaissance gardens were not  planted until the 1850's.  Famous author Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, Alexander Kielland and painters Hans Gude and Anders Askvoll visited often and musicians such as Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull were guests. Today there are still concerts played here, as there were centuries ago, and new additions include a bed and breakfast and an adorable greenhoused restaurant on site.

May 17th, Norway's National Day

All images by Pepper Key Stacie
The large parade in Odda and a tiny cemetery in Sand
The constitution of Norway was signed on May 17, 1814 which declared Norway an independent nation.  It is a very non military national day, marked with childrens parades and most attendees wearing the traditional Bunad.

I pulled up to the Roldal stave church luckily just moments before the parade marched to it's front wall.   I stayed for mass, which I understood not a word but enjoyed the candlelight chandeliers casting light on the richly painted wall paintings that had been finished in the Middle Ages.  Many pilgrims visited this church, originally built in the 1300's, as it was said to have a crucifix which drops of water emerged every Midsummer Night that had healing properties.  This church was reconstructed in the 1900's where a dispute occurred due to it's construction whether it classified as a stave or post church. 

Many scenic stops along the way from Sand to Rosendal


All images by Pepper Key Stacie
My great grandfather Jacob Aanen Steensland was born September 26, 1879 in Hjelmeland, Rogaland County, Norway.  Although I wish I would have been able to find more information on the exact place of his birth or the family farm, it was remarkable just to lay eyes on the region of our roots.  Jacobs father was Aenen Jorgensen Stensland, and mother was Borghild Larsdatter Tuntlandsvikane (how's that for a name!) and they, like many Stenslands or Steinslands, changed their spellings to Steensland after moving to America.  I have always found the Norwegian pronunciation easier on the tongue and the ears. 
Hjelmeland is known for it's fruit production; apples, plums, pears, strawberries, and cherries but salmon, cod, and halibut have been important to the fishing industry.  The coat of arms depicts a red shield with plaits of straw, based on the local tradition of furniture making, symbolising the strength and solidarity of the municipality.  These famous chairs with seats of woven twigs, jaerstolen, are still being produced today. 
Reading Summer Light I found a treasure chest of personal parallels.  I grew up in Wyoming; the mountainous and mineral rich equality state, the 10th largest in square mileage but the least populated, and a racially undiverse population at that. Norway, like the rest of Scandinavia, is large but relatively sparsely populated, mountainous and rich in natural resources.  It is a notably egalitarian country, most likely stemming from the Viking days when the farms and communities would be managed by the women while the men were off to sea. Norway is slowly changing but very recently was the most racially homogeneous nation in the world after Japan.  Wyoming has often been termed rough terrain and as the author writes "I ponder the fact that Norway's character has emerged from it's rugged terrain and fragmented coastline, and that the isolation imposed by it's mountains and fjords strenthened it's traditions." (p.66) I think it's fair to say Wyoming's isolation from metropolitan areas has given it an identity all it's own.  With the comparisons of geography and economy I caught myself comparing myself to the average Norwegian and discovered my bad habit of bartering down is classically Norwegian.   Farmers would start at a price lower than they wanted and wait for the buyer to suggest a higher price they would then agree on.  (if only I sold my works to other Norwegians:)  I found out the Steensland's do it yourself nature is inherent; "Norwegians, probably because of their enforced isolation in many of the valleys and on the coastline, have developed a talent for being independent and this quality is reflected in their aptitude in building their own homes, putting on additions, restoring furniture, tending to a vegetable garden, making handicrafts, knitting, weaving, carving wood, and just about any other handyman pursuit." (p. 177)  We share a distaste of plastic surgery, drunk driving, television, and the exploitation of women, and a reverence for fairness, reading, the great outdoors, and gender equality in the workplace and in the home!  The author clearly holds a great deal of respect for Norwegians, describing them as idealistic, good natured, earthy, and wholesome.  In a study a few years back, researchers left wallets with cash unattended in various countries in public places.  Norway was the only country that all five wallets were returned.

Monday, May 24, 2010


What my hike looked like:

Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, is one of the most famous destinations in Norway.  The cliff juts out creating a plateu 82 feet by 82 feet,  resting 1,982 feet above the Lysefjorden, the "light fjord" so named by the light colored rocks making up the cliffs. The fjord is not only long and narrow, in some places it is as deep as the mountains are high (the fjord stops at a depth of 1300 feet below Preikestolen) On the opposite side of the fjord lies the Kjerag mountian, and the famous kjeragbolton, a boulder wedged between a mountain crevice where many hikers stop for a very brave photo. 
  I stayed overnight at a small campground about a 20 minute drive away from the base.  Slovik Campground was a real treat as there was internet access and a bathroom located within the cabin, a heated luxury with a fantastically hot shower I happily utilised after my hike!  I began climbing at 6am and made it to the pulpit just before 8am.  Despite the cloud covered view it was a beautiful trek and I crossed paths with not another soul until 30 minutes before I was back at the base.  I walked into the Fjelstue (mountain lodge) rain soaked, surprised to find the breakfast area jam packed with couples and families enjoying the typical breakfast spread; freshly baked breads, sliced cheeses, meats, cucumbers, and tomatoes, smoked salmon, hard and soft boiled eggs and a small selection of cereals.  After finishing off a second cup of hot tea, it still appeared as if the others were not in a big hurry to get on the hike, perhaps many decide not to do it at all with the near guarantee that the climax will be met with white fog versus the gorgeous scene one would find on a clear day.  I chose to experience the diluted version versus not experiencing it at all and I am very happy I did.

All images by Pepper Key Stacie
last three images from the Preikestolen Fjellstue

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stalheim and Surrounds

All images by Pepper Key Stacie

The original Stalheim hotel was built in 1885 but only a short decade later had expanded to accommodate up to 150 guests due to it's immense popularity.   As one can see from the top photo, the view is unparalleled.  My favorite feature was the open air museum, a very peaceful place for an early morning walk.  This felt like stepping directly into the old Stalheim community; the coaching inn from 1750, the memorial stone to Emperor Wilhelm’s visits to Stalheim, the schoolhouse from 1881, and the manor house.  The interior of the hotel is also a virtual museum with it's many artifacts, antiques, and art works, many of which feature Stalheim in it's depictions.  The fireplaces were always ablaze by dinner time, an open invitation for all guests to congregate and socialize over coffee, hot tea, or a cocktail.  Our young crew were put to shame with the golden agers, who far outlasted us in the evenings.  While we were saying our good nights and heading to bed between 10 and 11pm (which always felt strange considering there was still plenty of daylight at those hours), they were just getting warmed up in their card games and conversations. 

 So while the evenings were spent in the cozy atmosphere of the above pictures, the days were spent working in some of the most incredible locations I have ever seen.   The photo shoot was for the performance line of ECCO, a global leader in innovative comfort footwear.  The company was founded in 1963 in Denmark by Karl Toosbuy who vowed that the foot should lead the shoe and that comfort should not be a luxury.  The small Danish company has now grown to the 7th largest shoe brand in the world but continues to stay true to it's roots and admirable mission statement

Meet the crew:
Photographer Michael Dwornik
Video Director Scott Fredette of light-borne
Art Director Ron Pushkar
Photo Assistants Shane Mccauley and James Loveday
Producer Cindi Blair

Big thanks to everyone who made this shoot a success; Mogen, Patti, Rob, Pal, Christian, Erik, and Bernadette, everyone was great!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Norway Overview

These were my first views of Norway, flying into Bergen.  Moments earlier I had just finished the last page of Summer Light; A Walk Across Norway by Andrew Stevenson, which was a fantastic introduction to the country before my trip (thank you Siri!).  The book gave me a great deal of insight.  I discovered approximately 3% of Norway is cultivated, some 90% is gorgeous, untouched nature and only around a half percent is considered urban.   It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in all of Europe.  Interestingly there are as many Norwegians living in Norway as there are descendants of Norwegian immigrants living in North America, approximately four and a half million.  My ancestors migrated to the US in the 1860's and 70's, a small few amongst the 800,000 that made the journey between 1840 and 1923.  Visiting their homeland and learning about the many idealistic qualities and inherent nature of the people has given me a profound respect for my bloodlines.  In the book there is a reference to a journal entry where a traveler relays how Norway stayed in his great grandparents hearts long after they moved to America and now, for this family on their first visit, it will forever remain in theirs. My sentiments exactly;  though I left three days ago, I have dreamed of the majestic mountains and fjords every night since my departure.  The fitting words to the Norwegian national anthem:

JA, VI ELSKER DETTE LANDET (Yes, we love this country)

Ja, vi elsker dette landet, (Yes, we love this country)

som det stiger frem, (as it rises forth,)

furet, værbitt over vannet, (rugged, weathered, above the sea,)

med de tusen hjem. (with the thousands of homes.)

Elsker, elsker det og tenker (Love, love it and think)

på vår far og mor (of our father and mother)

og den saganatt som senker (and the saga night that sends)

drømmer på vår jord. (dreams to our earth.)

og den saganatt som senker (and the saga night that sends)

senker drømmer på vår jord. (sends dreams to our earth.)

Monday, May 10, 2010


Image found on flickr

I have been booked on a photo shoot in Norway so will be unable to blog for a bit.  I am very much looking forward to this view and spending a few extra days to see where my father's side of the family originated in Hjelmeland.  Stay posted for details and images of the travels!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's in my life, especially to the newest mom in our family, Lisa.  Baby Claire entered the world on March 26th, and on day one was already too cute for words.

Early May Weddings

Image by Pepper Key Stacie

Congratulations to our three couples who tied the knot this weeekend in Turks and Caicos!  Pictured above are Tom and Angie with friends and family from Florida.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fleur De Lys Wedding Inclusives

All images by Pepper Key Stacie

For the Fleur de Lys Villa brides out there, here are a few of the items that are inclusive to your booking which you may use for your wedding:
Left: 4 gold  leaf fleur de lys candelabras, clam shell, pair of mother of pearl perfume jars
pair of porcelain sculptural jars, antique bronze mirror, pewter teapot, pewter jewelry box
gold leaf tray with map of Turks and Caicos, wine decanter

Top Middle and Right:
Large bronze birdcage, 11 seashell pots, 9 porcelain water pitchers
Bottom Middle and Right:
Pair of bell jar terrariums, pair of matching bronze candelabras, pair of antique ship bookends, pair of antique bronze bride and grooms chairs

All images by Pepper Key Stacie and Tropical Imaging

Left:  24 Lace doily embellished recycled bottles
Top Middle and Right: collection of 100 baby conch shells, pair of antique ship bookends
100 mason jar lanterns with battery operated tea lights (couple responsible for buying batteries)
Bottom row: 9 small glass apothecary jars, 50 mason jars, medium sized chalk board

*If you are not a Fleur de Lys Villa bride but are hosting your wedding in the Turks and Caicos Islands and would like to utilise any of the above, a rental may be available.  Please e-mail for more information.