Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jackie and Shawns Wedding at the Grace Bay Club

Photos by Pepper Key Stacie
Bouquet by Environmental Arts, cupcakes by Diane Guess
This was not your average destination wedding.  Firstly, there was the ceremony officiation by famed mixologist Toby Maloney.  How often do you see a bride and groom enjoying a cocktail as part of their "I-do's?" This was not your average cocktail either, we are talking about a concoction of lavender and cucumber infused Hendrick's gin (my favorite and oh so difficult to find on the island), bitters, mint, and the dab of genius Toby is famous for.  Needless to say the ceremony set the tone for the rest of the day and this group was all about the party.  As a matter of fact, when it came time to exit the cocktail hour at The Lounge and head to Grill Rouge for dinner, the group clearly desired to linger longer.  When wedding planner Teresa Brunner of Tropical Destination Management Company, finally had escorted the entire party of 70 in small groups of a reluctant five or seven, the meal was served in a jiff so this couple could get on with their evening.  The beautiful  and spunky bride Jackie wowed the entire Grace Bay Club with her serenade to her new husband.  The waitstaff stopped and huddled in pairs, the nearby anacaona restaurant patrons adjusted their chairs to turn her direction, and even the infiniti bar fell silent.  Turns out our bride Jackie is a professional singer.  After a huge wave of applause the fun loving couple went on with their first dances, their fun, and (rumor has it) a toss in the pool!  Congratulations to Jackie and Shawn!

  Images by Pepper Key Stacie
Centerpieces by tropicaldmc

June Events

Photos by Lise Gula via facebook

Saturday June 19th was a fantastically windy day, perfect for the 20th annual fool's regatta.  The event commenced at noon and soon after the three classes of racing were under way;  Hobie Cats, local sloops, and the always entertaining, raft race!  The turnout this year was fantastic, even the US Coast Guard made an appearance in a dramatic demonstration.  The history of this tradition was begun on April 1, 1990 with a multi hull sailing race from Sopadilla Bay to Pine Cay for a drink pit-stop, then a return jaunt back to Sopadilla Bay.  What started as "foolish fun" ten years later took a more noble cause when the event began to act as a fundraiser.  To date the regatta has put more than $300,000 back into the community on behalf of chosen charities.  Traditions of locally built sloops, Big Boats, and home made rafts have gained momentum over the years, as has the Tug-O-War competition.  Kids and adults alike are invited to participate in this great beach party; spectators will have plenty to eat, drink, and do regardless of if they are intent on boarding any of the above vessels.  The organizer, David Douglas of the good ship Atebeyra, was quoted this year in the Weekly News, "To be in it's 20th year is an amazing achievement and what this event does so well is bring together people from all corners of the community for a fantastic family day in the sun."  I couldn't agree more, in the sun AND in the sea, that's what you call a great day in the Turks and Caicos Islands!

Another annual summer event is the T.C.S.P.C.A Dog Show.  This year marked it's sixth year of friendly canine competition, welcoming dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds.  This community event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for this amazing organization, who this year will raise funds to extend the outreach programs to provide much needed vet care on the outer islands. 
 The categories include Best Trick, Best Looking Female, Best Looking Male, Most Original Potcake, Looks Most Like Owner, Cutest Tail, Best Time in the Obstacle Course, and Best in Show. This hugely popular fundraiser not only has warm and fuzzy entertainment appeal, but plenty of fun for all ages including face painting, raffle, craft sale, and a surprise appearance.  If you were unable to attend but would like to contribute to the cause, you may make a donation online here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

JoJo and The Cove

If you have ever read into the Turks and Caicos Islands, surely you have read a thing or two about JoJo.  I remember my initial flight over being given some reading material about the extremely rare solitary dolphin who voluntarily interacts with humans.    JoJo was declared a national treasure in 1989, but just a short two years previous was almost deemed a tourist liability and placed in captivity.  Thanks to Dean Bernal,  a Californian who met JoJo in 1984 and went on to share many adventures, an awareness campaign was created that protects JoJo to this very day. 
  I have had the fortune of meeting JoJo face to face on many occasions.  Every experience has been fascinating and remarkable, but witnessing him light up in the presence of Pepper has been thus far incomparable.  JoJo seems to have a real curiosity about dogs, and luckily our potcake loves to jump ship and make chase of JoJo on the surface.  With us occasionally he can seem sleepy, one might even say bored, but as soon as Pepper joins us in the water it is all chatter and chase, twists and turns, fun and frolick. These experiences, as well as research into the intelligence of the species, leaves no doubt in my mind that they should ALL be treasured and protected.

Above photo by Shayna Bigazzi

Unfortunately, in some parts of the world they are not.  I had heard about The Cove, the Oscar Award winning best documentary feature film, quite awhile back but it took some serious self pep talk for me to actually watch it.  Though it was even more painful than I possibly imagined, it accomplished with me exactly what it's objective continues to be- spread the word.  I would encourage everyone to see this brave film about the slaughter of 20,000 plus dolphins a year in Japan.   The production team and all involved took gigantic risks in exposing this very dark secret.  Please see the film, or if you can't muster up the courage, please visit the website and take part in halting this atrocity.  To learn more about sustainable fishing please click here to discover which fish are the safest to enjoy, that have the lowest amounts of mercury.  Then download the Seafood Watch Guide, to discover the best options for sustainable fishing in the area in which you live or will be traveling.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Framing Grace Gallery

Image by Pepper Key Stacie
Hands holding blossom painting by Jen Maude, monstera leaf duo by Pepper Key Stacie

Framing Grace is the Turks and Caicos Islands newest gallery, a delicious little haven set in the fringe of the shopping district on Providenciales, just opposite Sunshine Nursery in the lovely Grace Bay Court.  Upon a browse inside one would find a sprinkling of antiques and handcrafted jewelry, as well as an impressive selection of paintings, photography, and prints from local and international artists.  But Framing Grace isn't just a gallery; beyond the interior wooden arched door lies the framing workshop, the bones of the business.  If you are a home, condominium, or resort owner in the islands desiring to embellish your space, Framing Grace is the place to select the art that suits it best, and then custom design the way in which you choose to present it on your walls.   The adorable proprietor, Joelle Behlmaier, took a few minutes to chat with me

PKS:Where are you from?
JB:Annapolis, Maryland, US

PKS: How did you first become introduced to the Turks and Caicos Islands?
JB: Summer of 1992, School for Field Studies, South Caicos

PKS: Wow!  What was that experience like and what was the lasting impression?
JB: Spent the summer marine mapping for the fisheries department.  Diving the pristine waters completely spoiled all future diving experiences, creating a yearning to return to such an amazingly beautiful paradise.  I am super excited to start diving again, this time with my 15 year old daughter who will be certified next week.

PKS: What or who influenced your move to the TCI?
JB: I am an island girl at heart!

PKS: Has your career always included the arts?
JB: Always! I love making things beautiful whether it be a piece of paper, canvas, furniture, a room, or an entire home...

PKS: Who is your favorite artist or favorite artist of the moment?
JB: Stacie Steensland Gaudet of course, I am patiently waiting for her latest to enter the gallery.

PKS: Awesome answer but which artist would you dream about having a piece of work hanging in the gallery or in your home, in an ideal world?
JB: I would love to have "Almond Blossom" by Van Gogh, painted to welcome the birth of his nephew, hanging over a soaking tub in my master bath.

Vincent van Gogh's Almond Blossom (oil on canvas,29x36-1/4 inches) hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.  Image from howstuffworks.com
PKS: What is your favorite medium?
JB: Oils, I love texture

PKS: What do you like best about the Framing Grace business?
JB: I love to see the finished product, especially a piece of child’s art beautifully matted and framed into a piece that anyone, not just the parent, would adorn.

PKS: What aspect do you appreciate the most about living in the Turks and Caicos Islands?
JB: The ease of living allows for much more time to spend with my children.

I encourage everyone to visit the gallery and have their own chat with Joelle!  Summer Hours Monday Friday 12-2pm or by appointment 649.333.1339

Monday, June 14, 2010

African Dance Performance and a Fond Farewell at the Market

  Above Images by Pepper Key Stacie
The second Saturday of every month you can find a Turks and Caicos farmer's/artists market at the Graceway Gourmet.  Local arts and craft vendor regulars include Ginger from Sea Glass Shack, artist and handbag designer Jennifer Maude, jewelry designer Atelys Adrian, woven handcrafts from the Middle Caicos Co-Op, TCSPCA gifts and goodies,  Cheryl, the sewing machine queen, fashionable jewelry collections from Trem Jocale, yours truly and many more.  Every month we choose an island charity in need to support and this Saturday we had a very special guest performance in thanks by the Edward C. Gartland Youth Center.  This amazing group of students were led by the incredibly talented Shara Bowen (pictured in the middle of the group photo with glasses)  Shara and her husband David, the country's Director of Culture, are a tireless, constant driving force in keeping the history of these islands, especially of the arts, alive and well in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  I applaud them both immensely.  The fruits of their labors are especially moving to watch in the young peoples performances, where the traditions of old are breathed back to life. 

Image courtesy of Meghans Africa blog
  The inspiring drumming, dancing, and singing will stay in the audiences minds, perhaps for years to come for one special viewer, Meghan O'Reilly.  Meghan took on the position of director for the Youth Center upon it's birth in the spring of 2008 after volunteering in Southern Africa for Grassroot Soccer Org,  and she is a huge part of it's success today.   This performance marked Meghans last as director as she leaves for a new adventure in Mauritius Island.  I think I speak for a very large part of the community when I say thank you Meghan for all your outpourings of hard work, energy, hope, and care into the center.  You will be greatly missed!  Bon voyage and best wishes!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fleur de Lys Visitors

It has been a very busy week that began with a downpour which brought one rare species out of hiding, and one common species to a rare spot.  This bright green lizard is a beauty, I have only ever seen one other like it in seven years of living in the islands.  They must find some sanction at the villa as the first one I saw just late last year perched on our front gates, slightly larger than this one.  I will try to research more about this species and report back on my findings.

All images by Pepper Key Stacie

The visitor below we see a lot of in the Turks and Caicos.  I thought this agile crustacean was a Blue Land Crab, a favorite food in the islands, but as the shell is clearly reddish I may be mistaken. Perhaps the red color comes from it's spiderman abilities to crawl up stone walls and nestle in corners! Again, will need to do some research to find out more about these amazing creatures.  If you happen to be reading this and know how to properly identify this weeks visitors, please leave a comment below.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lori and Ian's Wedding at the Gansevoort

All images by Pepper Key Stacie

The Gansevoort is one of the newest resorts in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and it's popularity is rapidly spreading.  For starters it boasts one the most wonderfully wide and uncrowded beaches on Providenciales; a perfect location for a large beach wedding.  Planner Teresa Brunner of Tropical Destination Management Company  is a pro at coordinating hotel accommodations specific to a the guest list needs. Environmental Arts did a stunning job for this lovely couple.  They created a floral design for the ceremony of Hawaiian lei inspired curtains, a reference to the couples love of Maui.  TC Millwork took care of a custom finish on the bamboo canopy, as well as a height modification to accommodate the 6'6" groom, and hand painted beach and tickle trunk signs in the same font as the couples brilliant programs which doubled as fans.  The modern architecture of the Gansevoort is complemented by simple and sleek surrounds true to the name New York made famous, creating it's stand apart signature.  The pool is clearly the stylish center of the property, giving the infamous white sand beach just steps away some serious competition for guests attention.  It made for a picturesque cocktail hour.

  Environmental Arts created sophisticated florals for the reception; cascades of white orchids in tall silver vases for the interior dining area, willow branches with white cala lilies, and low white rose and blue hydrangea silver cupped arrangements adorned with the brides handmade message flags.

The fragrant floral adorned cake was created by Diane Guess.  Kissing porcelain bride and groom figurines and cake serving cutlery were family heirlooms.

Brilliant set up a self-service photo booth with a tickle trunk of pirate props Tropical DMC sourced.  Loads of laughs could be heard from this area for the entire evening, needless to say it was a huge hit! Teresa and I even took five minutes to get in on the fun. See more behind the scenes hilarity on Brilliants blog.

Image courtesy of Brilliant

Parents of the groom arranged for a couple of surprises for the lucky newlyweds; a Turks Select Cigar Bar where each individual order was hand rolled, and a spectacular fireworks display which welcomed guests arriving to the beach bonfire post reception dancing. Our congratulations to the happy couple!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lori and Ian's Rehearsal Dinner

Flowers by Environmental Arts

Lori and Ians wedding has been the culmination of over a year of planning for Teresa Brunner of TropicalDMC, and an event I especially looked forward to because the parents of the groom are a couple of TC Millworks favorite clients.  Lois and William built a beautiful oceanside home on Providenciales, showcasing fine woodwork and custom built cabinetry in every room.  Lois is a gem to work with as she knows exactly what she wants and her taste is exquisite (luckily for her daughter-in-law as she was a tremendous help in planning this weekends affair).  One of the homes most spectacular features is an atrium of rich mahogany overlooking a view of Turks and Caicos turquoise waters, even more welcoming when coming at dusk on dinner invitation.  We had the pleasure of meeting both sons, Justin and Ian, and Lori at that soire' a couple of years ago so familiarization with the couple made the last few days labors that much more poignant.
  Their rehearsal dinner took place at a perfect location for a large group of over 100 attendees, OPUS Wine-Bar-Grille, by long time Turks and Caicos restaurateur Tony Arata.  The classic navy and silver interior dining opens up to an expansive outdoor terraced patio with towering palms and perfect multiple platforms for bands, dance floors, signature bars, and just about any other feature a couple should desire for their guests.  Lori and Ian's guests enjoyed a boat ride, a sunset cocktail,  and a festive Junkanoo performance before parading to the dinner at OPUS, where they listened to live local music and danced the night away, all details arranged via Tropical DMC. 

 All Images by Pepper Key Stacie

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tropical DMC Wedding Featured on Little Black Book!!!

Xochy and Todd were married February 10, 2010 on Grace Bay Beach in front of the Grace Bay Club.  This couple had a small intimate group of friends fly down for their destination nuptials, just weeks before their big Texas wedding (which we can't wait to see photos of soon!).   We scouted three different locations a few days before their wedding but the couple could not decide between the beautiful beaches; they were all stunning, and each one had a unique attribute they wanted to incorporate into their day.   I suggested they need not choose, they could have them all!  And they did!  They started with photos on the secluded Leeward Beach, had their seaside ceremony just a short stroll from their hotel, Villa Del Mar, and then the group of six paraded to their reception at Bay Bistro.    Check out the incredible spread on Style Me Pretty and don't miss the video by 31 Films