C. Bell: The Belle of The Antique Row

With over forty shops on the antique row of West Palm Beach, I decided to follow Simon Doonan's quick list on my visit last December. I've heard of C. Bell from numerous sources so I was only too eager to check her showroom out first.
A very Palm Beach pink and green vibe going on at the entry
Dorothy Draper's, In the Pink, fits right into this little vignette with paw foot furniture which we see a lot of from Oly and Baker by Jacques Grange. I'm trying to remember the 20th century designer who popularized animal legs and paw feet in these whiteout or whitewashed finishes. He was based in California and died of a drug overdose, if I'm not mistaken. If you remember his name, please let me know. 
Here is Christine Bell, the Belle of the Antique Row.
She gamely posed for the camera and was very nice all throughout
despite going through a major computer glitch while we were there.
This sunny area brightens up the far corner.
The eight frond rattan chair works
well with the restored vintage desk.
The zebra print plate is one of my favorite pieces.
Animal prints and bright colors repeated all throughout.
This 70s mirrored vanity is the perfect size for me 
and small apartments. The built in lights work really well.
The collapsible tole tray on the right with greek key pattern
is a great cocktail accessory and accent table.
Nothing can ever go wrong with the pristine 
combination of white and blue.
 treasure trove of white accessories
This restored tea pavilion chair in lacquered hot tomato
stands out among the sea of white.
Christine is spot on with her style and merchandise selection. Her pieces add drama and whimsy making her a go to source for designers. Check out C. Bell's website for more details. Thank you Christine for giving us a gracious tour. I said the blog post would come out weeks after my visit. It's been three months so I apologize for the delay.


I was talking to my Twitter friend,  Norbridge Antiques   , about antiquing in South Florida the other day. Our conversation and my latest post on the Withit WOW awards inspiration made me go back through sunny moments in Cebu and Florida. The first few pictures are from one of my favorite shops in Palm Beach, F.S. Henemader Antiques, Inc. 
This tableau's got my number with the 
turquoise foo dogs, Chinese blue and white vases, 
and corals.

Nautilus shell and sea fan covered bottles 
romanticizes the idea of sending a message in a bottle. 
where I spent a long day picking  
red and blue corals that washed off the shore

a gorgeous mix of Delft tiles, Moroccan lamps,
coral wall sconces, lamps, and the omnipresent sunburst mirror

starfishes from Bungan Island
where we like to go clam digging

The next few photos with an * are from Christa's South Seashells in West Palm Beach.
*The electric combination of turquoise and purple 
is much inspired by nature just like the jellyfish 
drifting along the sandbar as we sunned ourselves.
The colors of the paua or abalone shell exhibit this as well.
I've gotten some great ones for my collection from 
New Zealand and the Philippines.
Here is one of my projects where I designed
the crushed abalone pedestals as bases 
for the reclaimed wood slab from Carnaza Island. 
The bases and chairs were all made in our workshop.
Snug designer, Clayton Tugunon, 
created the tubeworms and shell light fixtures. 
*If there was one thing I wanted to take home from my antiquing in West Palm Beach last December, it was this horse skull encrusted with pink salts from the Mojave Dessert. 
*This mirror encrusted with an all white/cream ensemble
from mother of pearl discs, corals and shells stood out
among the rest that were multicolored.
*This Nautilus bed crown 
*and curtain holdback make subtle touches.
As much as I love shells, I can only take so much 
of it in a room so these accents are just enough. 
It's not very clear in this photo but I had the aluminum bands of the glass windows of my suite in the Calicoan Island Surf Camp encrusted with tiny shells.  The shutters (which were my friend, Garrison Rousseau's, fab idea) interspersed with the solid panels are covered with handwoven mats or banig made of palm leaves. These were woven by women a few towns away.  I worked with a shell artisan who interpreted my design just the way I wanted it. I kept the interior shell inlay plain with two tone shells mimicking the two tone mats.
However, I added more ornamentation to the exterior shell inlay for the bottom
and top panels.

p.s. I will post more photos of this cottage and talk about Calicoan Island more in a future post.


Ode to my Father

March 17th is always special for me. Not because it's St. Patrick's Day but it's my dear father's birthday. Low key and unassuming, he would probably cringe that I am blogging about his birthday. He doesn't quite get  social media yet. I told him that I will explain visually what all this is about when I am back home.  I've missed his last four birthdays since I moved here. We communicate almost everyday via email, text, Skype, or majicJack. Amazing how technology works, I grew up in the 3rd World with black rotary phones where I remember screaming into the phone on long distance calls and you needed an operator to put you through. I just miss him so much and wish I was in Cebu with my other US based family members who went home to celebrate. These photos were taken five years ago from his biggest birthday weekend bash in Manila (an hour flight from Cebu) which he co-celebrated with one of his best friends, Pete. His birthday is on the 18th. 
Before the evening's festivities, we decided to have a quiet day and drove 70 km south of Manila and went to Antonio's Garden in Tagaytay for lunch. Much has been said about the fine French inspired Filipino restaurant by Chef Antonio Escalante tucked in lush verdant hills that we had to check it out for ourselves. It is an old home converted into a well ventilated garden restaurant. The koi pond also deserves a mention.
foyer filled with Philippine art, antiques and
with admirable bases
lovely dining vignettes were created in different areas
providing ample intimacy indoors or outdoors
everything was superb---food, service and ambience
 my recent Google search also shows that 
they've remained consistent.
I am going to post the ode I wrote to my father 
on Father's Day six years ago...

Thank you for letting me fly high enough 
to know the ways of the world
and for clipping my wings 
when it became too much for me to bear.
For the times when you drank champagne 
with me to celebrate,
wine during late night talks,
sambucca to help me swallow 
a few jagged pills,
apple-carrot-echinacea concoction 
when systems fail,
and for sharing a mean brownie cup ala mode 
when I'm down.
For listening to my so-called 
love tribulations without wincing,
and knowing when they've done 
enough karmic justice to my face
(thus understanding why it validates
 a big jar of La Mer charged to your card).
For loving me unconditionally 
despite follies and flaws.
For simply knowing when to be a father, 
friend and professional colleague.
I'm very blessed to have and share 
this rare relationship with you.
I thank God for you everyday.
Happy Father's Day
---published June 2005, Gypsy Queen
Sunstar Daily Cebu, Philippines

According to my feng shui calendar, March 17th is the luckiest day of the year. I am lucky to have my father in my life. He has been incredibly supportive of my passions and continues to foster utmost influence and inspiration in everything that I do. His tenets and values guide me. I hope I'm not being obnoxious by posting our photos but I feel it is important to honor and thank our loved ones as much as we can and let them know it. This is part of my gratitude series which I decided to start after my first birthday post. I have been blessed with amazing people in my life who have supported me along the way, contributed to my growth, and kept me grounded. I want to celebrate them.  I am the sum of the people who've inspired me.

p.s. Review of Antonio's Garden Restaurant and more recent photos here 

WOW Inspiration:The Chambered Nautilus

This is a follow up to the Are You WithIt? post yesterday. The women of Withit have been in the thick of planning and preparations for its annual education conference. It didn't take long for Sara Lyke, WithIt's executive director; Barbara Miller, conference chair, and me to decide on the color theme for the year. With Pantone's 2010 turquoise in mind, we decided on a robust complementary red, to match the calming color for the women-centric leadership development network's biggest event.
the serene qualities of blue and
the invigorating aspects of green,
Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters
and a languorous, effective escape from
the everyday troubles of the world,
while at the same time restoring
our sense of wellbeing
mood board courtesy of glam check
I accepted the call to be VP of Networking and WOW Awards Chair last December while I was in Palm Beach for the holidays. I immediately got inspired there while thinking of colors and a decor theme for the conference and awards night that will take place, August 17-19th in Charlotte, North Carolina. This will be my third time to attend the conference and my first as a committee member....big shoes to fill.
photo from Wikipedia
With summer and all the evocative images that come to mind, I thought that the Nautilus shell would make a strong symbolic emblem for the home and furnishings industry after a difficult 2009. We all experienced a challenging period, stayed bouyant, and have managed to come out of it stronger and wiser.
I took a page from one of my all time favorite ubiquitous coffee table books,

As coral reefs grow, it provides a habitat for intimately connected marine communities. The diversity of corals and the significant role it plays in the development of other ecosystems and its interconnectedness is akin to how WithIt works. It is an amazing powerhouse that supports its members as they grow and branch out to flourish in areas where they need to be. I've learned and continue to do so from many women leaders with various enriching experiences.
Tobi Fairley from House of Turquoise
Corals are ingrained with symbiotic tissues that enable them to develop into large branches. Reefs maintain a network, foster intimate ecological relationships, and delicate webs much like the many real and virtual networks we build and belong to. Not only is the education conference a great time to meet wonderful contacts in the home and furnishings industry, but also a time......
Kate Spade ad
To Learn
House of Turquoise
To Grow
To Lead
Kate Spade ad
To Encourage
House of Turquoise
To Mentor and Be Mentored
A Time to Give and Take
Tobi Fairley from House of Turquoise
I look forward to some tete`-a-tete´ with friends I've made.

Neptune's Treasure by Scalamandre
share stories, moments, ideas, and laughs
while breaking bread
Kate Spade ad
or indulging in sweet euphoria
Last Valentine's Day, I had my eureka moment
that tied the whole inspiration together.
Le Corbusier's Spirales Logarithmiques
reminded me of this poem
photo from here

by: Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sail the unshadowed main,–
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,–
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn;
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:–
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

"In many ways, we are like a chambered nautilus. It adds a chamber each year through time and effort to accommodate its growing body. New chambers represent our lives. We cannot turn back nor relive the past. According to legend, a chambered nautilus can sail while floating on the water by hoisting up a membrane. Life’s big question is, “What’s our goal in life?” “To grow and not to go backwards.” Our goal should be to make each year better and more dignified than the previous. The last five lines of the poem speak of growing out from a weak past (small chamber), creating new and better years (bigger chambers), continuing to create more precious years (even bigger chambers), and dying (leaving the shell on the beach)"----excerpt from a brilliant analysis

Conference details here or
please visit

*all photos are from personal archives, unless noted*