Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Goodbye For Now!

In the end, only three things matter,
How much you loved,
How gently you lived, and
How gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
- - - Buddha

Time to Say Goodbye

The time has come for me to let go of the Jewel Box® Home blog, at least for now.

The best thing about Jewel Box® has been the lovely people it brought into my life.  So many of you are special to me and I wish I could thank all of you personally!  I do have to mention Rue and Laney.

Rue was one of the first people to leave a comment on Jewel Box®!  Stop by her blog An Old Fashioned World when you have a chance.  You will be happy you did!

I don't have words to describe my dear, wonderful Laney.  She won the first Jewel Box® giveaway and has been my 'online angel' ever since.  Thank you Laney for everything!

As for Jewel Box®, look for another book, Jewel Box® Entertaining, to come out in September of this year (2015).  You can also find me on Facebook or email me at

Until next time,


Friday, February 20, 2015

A Foolproof Way to Fearlessly Choose Art!

...there are three elements that my home must have people (family and friends)
...the last make the first two come alive...
  --- Quote from Laney, my dear online friend 

One of My Favorite Pieces of Art

Today we are going to talk about how to choose art, but first let me show you one of my favorite pieces that hangs in our living room.  This is called 'Little Child', the artist is unknown.  It reminds me of the cherubs Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which is why I love it!

  What Huffington Post Says About Art in 2015

Number one on the Huffington Post decorating to-do list for 2015  is, "hanging a piece of art".  Turning bookshelves into art, the big look for 2014, by using color categories to organize volumes, is no longer cool. HuffPo has announced, "...this year the actual art is taking over."  

Why My House is Filled with Art

The happy coincidence of HuffPo's art endorsement, means, by sheer luck, I am 100% on trend for 2015, because my house is filled with art!  Just between you and me, I would give up all my furniture before any of my art.  Why? Art has the power to move me.  From the ordinary to the sublime, art can pack an emotional punch! 

Portrait of 'Josephine'

One of the most moving pieces of art in my house right now is 'Josephine'.  She hangs in our family room and is on loan from the Loret-Bernal family, who commissioned Marc Ferraro, my son, to paint this portrait of their daughter.  The look in her eyes as she glances sideways is both haunting and provocative!

A Foolproof Method for Choosing Art

Let's talk about choosing art.  Here is my foolproof method for choosing art you will not only like, but love!  Imagine you are out on a Saturday looking for a piece of art to bring home.   A particular piece catches your eye.  Ask yourself:

How do I feel when looking at this art?
 What you want is a positive emotional response to the art. 
 You should feel good.
Awe, love, amusement, happiness, beauty, joy, peace, calm; 
if you experience positive feelings when looking at a piece of art, 
 buy the art, your job is done!  

 What if you have a negative emotional response;
 anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, but still like the art?
 Art can trigger every emotion in the human experience.  A negative response is expected when art portrays a difficult life event, or symbolizes that event. 
 No worries, this art may still be right for you, just ask yourself the next two questions:
Is this art meaningful to me?
 Does it represent something important in my life? 
If you can confidently answer yes to both of these questions, then your negative response to this piece of art, is balanced by the greater meaning it brings to your life. 
 You should buy this art!

 Dueling Emotions of 'Coneflowers'

'Coneflowers', also by my son, Marc Ferraro, contains both beauty and despair.  Drawn from coneflowers grown in my garden, the cycle of life portrayed in the contrast of glorious white blooming flowers against brown, lifeless stems holds tremendous meaning for me.

Art as a Statement Piece

Art that brings out negative emotions, but also has meaning, is what I call a statement piece.  Why?  This art has something to say.  A common statement piece found in many homes, is a cross depicting the tragic death of Jesus Christ. Extreme sadness and despair are often felt when looking at a cross. Yet, as one of the most important symbols in all of Christian life, a cross also inspires awe and faith, and shows the resilience of the human spirit.

The 'Pieta', by Michelangelo, is perhaps one of the most famous statement pieces in the world.
 Public domain Wikigallery photo. 

Let's Take a Look at My Art and Why I Chose It 

 Fruit, Unframed, by DuCuevas

Here are four small unframed canvases that hang over my kitchen window.  They are all by DuCuevas.  I grow apples, cherries and pears in my garden, so I just had to have these three pieces.  I also love to eat kiwi so I grabbed that canvas too.

 Grape Varietals, by Csaba

The next two pieces of art show grape varieties used in making wine.  A description of each varietal is labeled in pencil at the bottom of each canvas. These are by Csaba.  My husband really enjoys wine, so I got these for him.  They hang on either side of our dining buffet.  When I first saw this art, I was also drawn to the unusual matting and frames.

 Flower and Fruit Watercolors

Here are two still-life watercolors I bought as a reminder of my favorite simple pleasures in life, flower and fruit.  Just as much as the paintings, I love the matting and wooden frames. 

Italian Village Watercolors, by Hayslette

Three watercolors of Italian Villages, by Hayslette, hang over our living room couch.  I bought these because the towns shown are very similar to area of Italy where my husband's family lived for many generations.

Male Sitting
This charcoal sketch of a male sitting, for me, captures the beauty and grace of the human form.  (And I like that it is not full frontal.  None of that for me, I am a bit of a prude.) This sketch hangs in our family room.

Where to Find Art

My budget is very limited.  I do not have an art dealer or walk into galleries and buy art off the wall.  The only original art I own is by my son, and his prices are now beyond my reach.  LOL!  Everything else I have is a print or copy, often by little known, or unknown artists.  This is a good thing because the art is more affordable!  

So where do I find art?  My two reliable sources are Ethan Allen and Invaluable.  
Why? Affordability and selection.  

Before I go any further, some of you may be asking whether this is a sponsored post.  I would ask that question too!  All the references to Ethan Allen and Invaluable look a little 'fishy'.  But, the answer is a big no.  Neither Ethan Allen, nor Invaluable are sponsoring this post.  So why are they mentioned? Because to 'get' art, you have to know both how to choose it, and where to find it.  Ethan Allen and Invaluable are my reliable 'go to' sources for art.

Ethan Allen

Let's talk about Ethan Allen first, which offers the flexibility to shop for art either online, or at one of their stores.  I like Ethan Allen because my preference is to see art in person.  I also find Ethan Allen art surprisingly affordable, with prices starting at $150 including matting and framing! I have several pieces of art from Ethan Allen, which you can see above titled 'Flowers and Fruit Watercolors' and 'Grape Varietals'. 

Here is some current art from Ethan Allen that I especially like. Titled the 'Mini Leaf Series I to IV', each of these lovely pieces is shown below.  Notice that the art is placed inside a large mat and then framed. This highlights the art and is a nice variation on standard framing.
Mini Leaf Studies II
'Mini Leaf Studies II' at Ethan Allen

Mini Leaf Studies III
'Mini Leaf Studies III' at Ethan Allen
Mini Leaf Studies IV
'Mini Leaf Studies IV' at Ethan Allen

Invaluable also makes my list as a good source for finding art.  Relatively new, Invaluable is an online only art auction house.  I am not crazy about buying art online without the chance to see it in person, but Invaluable makes-up for this by posting high quality photos that are so good, the art practically jumps out of the screen and into your room.  Invaluable also has the most affordable art pricing I have ever seen!  Even if you have only $10 to spend on art, you can still find something wonderful.  The best part about Invaluable is the live online bidding platform. You place a bid for the art and drop out of the bidding process if the price gets too high. I love this because I can completely stay within my budget! 

Here are some of my current favorites at Invaluable offered on the Paintings PageJust look at the gorgeous colors in these paintings! 
'Oranges' by Hugo Zavaleta, Original Oil on Canvas
'Golden Apples' by Hugo Zavaleta, Original Oil on Canvas
You are now ready to go out and choose some art for your home!

Until next time.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Jewel Box® Kitchen is Featured on Small Spaces!

Hi All!  Very excited because my kitchen is featured on Small Spaces! Take a peak.  Just as important, Rue, I made the burritos from your post the other day and they were yummy!!!

Here is my original language I sent to Small Spaces to use.  There definitely was some editing before the final version was published.  Thought you would get a kick out of the original.

My galley kitchen measures 8’ by 8’ and I love it!  How do I make a room this small work?  Especially a kitchen?  By maximizing space in ways that are both functional and visually appealing.  Many space saving tips get the job done, but are also – for lack of a better word – unattractive.  To make my list space-savers must accomplish their goal and look good in the room! 

Let me show you my favorite ways for maximizing space in a small  kitchen.

(1)         A folding step stool allows me to reach the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets without any problem.  At 5’2” on a good day, I need my step stool to function in the kitchen!  I has a false front that looks exactly like my kitchen drawers and folds easily for storage into the kick plate when not in use.  

(2)         Under shelf wire bins let me make use of the space above my dishes, glasses and mugs.  These sturdy bins hang from an upper shelf and come in various sizes to accommodate all types of kitchenware.

(3)         An over-the-sink-colander gives me a place for draining pasta or rinsing vegetables, when my single bowl kitchen sink is occupied.  It expands to fit over my sink whenever I need it, and when not being used, retracts for out-of-sight storage with my pot and pans. 

(4)         A two-oven range with dimensions identical to a standard single-oven range, doubles my ‘baking power’ without taking-up any more space than my original oven.  Heavy holiday baking was the reason I wanted a double-oven range, but I now use both ovens several times each week.  This a favorite appliance of mine and one of the biggest space-savers! 

Photo of my double oven that I spent so much time cleaning did not even make the cut!  LOL.

(5)         The large bay window, which I installed in place of double-hung sash windows, gave me much more counter space without taking away any floor space.   A unique feature of this bay window, and the reason it is so effective at maximizing space both functionally and visually, is the level surface from the back of the window to the front of the counter.   Since I spend so much time in the kitchen, more counter space means I always have room for flowers and fruit, two of the simple pleasures I enjoy most in life.