the places I visit on the island paradise where I live

Having left Ohio in 1981, I have been moving south ever since. First to Florida, then for the last 16 years, I have lived on the island of Cozumel with my husband and two dogs. Expat, designer, writer, photographer ... all my passions with a Mexican twist!

Nov 1, 2016

Day of the Dead

Pan de Muerto for the Day of the Dead at Chedraui
One of the many reasons I love living here is most things are predictable. I love the rhythm of the different holidays for different months. Carnival, Easter, Independence Day, Day of the Dead, and finally Christmas with lots more holidays thrown in between.

Walking through Chedraui this afternoon, the guys were setting up for the Day of the Dead festivities. Out comes the Pan de Muerto and the candles to honor those who have gone before us. It is a happy, but solemn time as we contemplate our loved ones who have left this life. 


Candles on display at Chedraui

It coincides with our Halloween, so I had to assume they have the same roots, so I did a quick wiki search and sure enough, Halloween is the day before All Saint's Day and is the Day to remember the hallows, or saints - to honor the recently departed. More info on the history of Halloween can be found here. But how many of us knew that? To me, Halloween was more about trick-or-treating, decorating, carving pumpkins and playing pranks. I had a vague sense of its larger meaning but never really thought about it much.

I love that living in Mexico, I get to know about the roots of the traditions. Christmas is not Xmas and Halloween retains its religious significance. On our local Cozumel Parks and Tours Facebook page, I found this ....


Photo courtesy of Cozumel Parks and Tours
with this description ...

We celebrate the Day of the Dead to remember our friends and family even when they're gone, we prepare their altar with their pictures, favorite flowers, toys and food to let them know their essence will always be in our hearts and minds.


We also get to eat Mucbil pollo. In the Yucatan, Dia de los Muertos is called Hanal Pixan and we eat a traditional dish made from corn and chicken that includes chicken bones inside. The chicken bones represent our dearly departed and we eat it for the Day of the Dead. I love it, even though it sits on the stomach like a ton of bricks. I look forward to going to my sister-in-law's house to have some again this year, just like the last 12 years. 

The link here is in Spanish and is a recipe for Mucbil pollo from Merida.




Oct 21, 2016

Day of the Dead: Mayan Style and More

Photo from Novedades QRoo newspaper
I learn the most interesting things from Facebook, especially from the articles that Karen Roy Vissage posts. I did a quick google translate on this one, and for once, it wasn't half bad. It turns out that the Mayan version of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead is not three days, but lasts for one month from October 15th to November 15th.

Translation of the article here (with a few corrections from me)
CANCUN , Q. Roo. - The Day of the Dead celebration runs on October 31 , first and second day of November, however, in the Mayan culture it runs from October 15 until November 15.

The Mayan shaman,Feliciano Ake Chan, recalls the importance of this indigenous ritual, which establishes that spirits live with us from October 15th and share with us for 30 days , finally retiring to another plane.

" The Mayan altar consists of a long table, on which are placed four candles of virgin wax , these represent the four directions , the four seasons and the four elements, same as are used by the spirits to come to the table and at home," says Chan Ake .

On the table is placed the traditional mucbipollo and for the dead who liked alcohol, they place a bottle of their favorite beverage.

The 31st is exclusively dedicated to the souls of children, called that day as Mehen Hucul Pa'al ,on November 1st is for adults , Hucul Nohoch concluded with a breakfast only.

The second day of November involves visiting spirits in the cemetery, filling the graveyard of life and color with families living together and eating together with your loved one.


Ake Chan said that November 2 begins the novena , and on the ninth day of the month there is a new celebration that includes enjoying mucbipollo, performing a ritual of welcome. Finally on November 15, they thank their families for the visit throughout the month.

(Note: all errors mine ... even though google translate was better than normal, it just didn't read very well. I did the best to translate it.)


Winner of Joplin dog Halloween contest

On another note, who can resist a dog Halloween contest? Again Facebook supplied this wonderful photo. These dogs came in second place.


Facebook photo of a disposable Halloween costume


Last but not least, my friend Kandy Stahl posted this great photo of a recyclable Halloween costume, made with disposable paper cups and plates. Very beautiful and quite unique!

Aug 25, 2016

How to Buy Furniture Online in the States



To Buy or Not to Buy... Modern Furniture Online?
reprinted from an article from Modern Furniture Review

The Internet is a place where you can purchase almost all sorts of merchandise and fulfil all your shopping desires. Luxury items are usually at a discount online than most local walk-in retail stores. Normally with furniture I would say you should walk into a store, sit on the lounger, or inspect the tables in person to really get a good feel. However I will admit having seen enough comparisons first hand and online purchases myself, the lines begin to blur when you are talking about huge price differences... seemingly the exact same lounger $2000 in store and $1000 online? Or in some cases, that item you see online actually looks nicer! All of a sudden, it seems to make more sense to take a gamble and purchase that beautiful piece of furniture you've been eyeing online. I will share with you things I have personally discovered to really take the gamble out of such an important purchase.

Rules I follow:

1. Overall feel of vendor website - Is this website professional made? Or does it look like it was put together over night in someone's basement? I'm not talking about purely aesthetics. Is the website secure and verified? Do they accept major credit cards or only paypal? 1-800 number and live chat? Someone answers you promptly by phone or email when you contact them? These are all very important feedback for myself when I look for a reliable online store.

2. Representation of Products (Pictures, Details, etc) - These details I find to be very important. Do the gallery pictures of their products look high resolution or very generic and small in size? The clearer, bigger, and more original their pictures are, the more likely it was taken from their actual inventory instead of just pasting in generic pictures. You can even go beyond this and ask them to provide you with unedited, unphotoshopped studio pictures of that item you are interested in buying. Any legit vendor of size would have done their own studio pictures to market their products properly. Small blurry pictures are likely trying to hide details of their product and count on you to believe all popular designs are made the same.Description of Products - when you read the product description and details of their products, is it something you've read somewhere else? Copied and pasted info usually means copied and pasted pictures!



Jul 15, 2016

A New Look for A Great Condo

Living room chair and ottoman with new fabric

At the beginning of this year, we had a great opportunity to work again with a client we hold very dear to our hearts. Back in 2005 and 2006 when we were getting started, this wonderful gentleman appeared in our old store and said he wanted to work with us. He said he would be sending us a large sum of money in a few days when he returned to Texas, after us only having a two hour meeting. I didn't hold my breath, but on Tuesday morning, as he said, the money was in our account. We did two condos together back then, and now nine years later, we are refurbishing both units.


New foam and dacron wrap to refurbish the sofas





New seat covers for the counter stools
Close up of the new counter stool fabric

Our client updated his kitchen with new stainless steel appliances and wanted to add a fresh, new look to what he had. When I inspected the sofas and sectionals, I was pleased to discover what good shape they were in. They just needed some new foam and dacron wrap added. The property manager was adding new fresh white duvet covers and shams, so we made wonderful pillows, bed scarves and cornices to finish out the bedrooms.


Close up of the new cornice



New pillows
Master Bedroom King bed with new bed scarf and pillows

We will end up refurbushing both units. One is shown here and I will take photos of the other one next week. It is very satisfying to work for someone again. And by the way, he rents so if this looks nice, you can find this unit at El Cantil on Cozumel Island.


My favorite bedroom

Ne cornice to match pillows and bed scarf

Jun 15, 2016

Cozumel Sea Walls by Flow Serfati Photography

Jason Botkin painting Cozumel sea wall photo by Florent Serfati
This photo is so powerful in so many ways. It is a great shot by Florent Serfati, who has done a magnificent job of compiling all the sea wall photos he shot recently. The artist, Jason Botkin, is shown in a Michaelangelo concentration doing what he does best. There is so much passion in this photo.


Jason Botkin mural complete by Florent Serfati


I have been following Florent Serfati's photography for a while, admiring his skills and loving what I got to follow on Facebook. But he has really outdone himself with the murals that have gone up all around Cozumel in the last month. People came from all over the world to promote our oceans and leave us these wonderful treasures. Flow has captured these moments magnificently.


Another awesome photo by Flow Serfati Photography

Due to some health issues, I haven't been out and about to take my own photos of these sea murals. Luckily I didn't have to, I have been able to enjoy them from in front of my computer. The above is by Kaulukuku and references the sponsor, Pangeaseed and of course taken on Cozumel, Mexico 2015.

It you loved these sea mural photos, please visit Flow Serfati's Photography page here on Facebook.  You will see the sea murals and a whole lot of other wonderful photographs. Thanks, Flow!!

By the way, if you want to see just the sea wall photos, click here.




May 15, 2016

Yearly 50% Off Sale at The Magic of Design

Our yearly sale is now on us. 50% off the prices listed throughout the store. We also have the inventory listed on our Facebook page. But remember, I cannot go in every time we sell something. So there may be items sol listed here. Just check with us.


We have many more pieces from the groups shown, and also we have mattresses, box springs, import riser foundations and more. We are already out of sleepers and sofas, which always sell first! Link to the Facebook page inventory is here. Remember take 50% off and prices are for Cozumel only. The include all sales tax, delivery and set up.

Mar 27, 2016

Tropical Paradise: French Caribbean Design Part 1


Cozumel is not a big place, especially when you take into account the ex-pat community. Those of us that speak English (hate to say it) but we tend to stick together a bit. There is nothing like having a conversation in English after speaking Spanish all day with my employees. 


My husband is Mexican and we obviously have many Mexican friends and family, but due to the size of the community and the warmth of the island, often my American and Canadian clients become not just clients, but also friends. Sometimes the friendship lasts only the length of the job. With others, it lingers and grows. My relationship with my clients, Karen and Howard, is one that has grown in the years we have known each other - through various condo projects. 

Moises and I consider them good friends. They stayed with us in our house during Hurricane Emily, a bit of a nonevent but that is always best with hurricanes. We have helped them and they have helped us. 


This is a glimpse of their beautiful condo that we designed together - Karen was the one with the vision. I worked to help her accomplish it. In the next post, I will explain more of the design process that transpired.

Upholstered headboard and bedding made in our shop.

Sofas upholstered in our shop in a cleanable suede cream microfiber fabric.
Notice that we used accents in blue and green on a pale cream background. Walls are painted in a pale blue-green tone, even the hand blown glass lamp is in the aqua tone.

Karen wanted the living area to be a place where her children and her grandchildren could visit. She wanted elegant but we searched for durable fabrics that are washable. The suede on the living room sofas is light in color but cleans up great.

Painted chest with silver mirror from Uttermost.


Drapes and sheers made of imported Robert Allen fabrics.


Glenmary chairs from Hillsdale Furniture.






Karen taught kindergarten and still retains an innocent and childlike wonder of the beautiful things and people around her. Working with Karen was a breeze as she worked with interior designers in the past and welcomes new ideas, but she also had a vision of what their new home was to be, a second home for the entire family as it grew. I met their daughter early on and have watched as she got married, have her son and watched him become a big boy!


Entertainment unit opens up to reveal hidden TV and stereo equipment.