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Smile Sweetly and Ask Nicely While You’re on Vacation

By 05/17/2014February 23rd, 201773 Comments

It’s a good thing my brother-in-law Dr. Bill Jacobs is a good holiday planner because he’s directly responsible for the fact that Terreeia and I are here in Scottsdale, Arizona with my sister Elizabeth and my sweet nephews for 5 nights.

William & Markus

William & Markus

We’re staying at the Kimpton Firesky Resort & Spa. When we arrived in our looong stretch limo (men are all about classy transportation–Bill again) we had adjoining rooms but not facing the pool.

I had called two days before and was told that they had adjoining rooms available but that there would be an additional charge to face the pool and that we could arrange it when we arrived.

Well, when we arrived, there was nothing beside the pool.

So what do I do? Do I smile sweetly and ask nicely? No. I get bitchy and cranky while Bill smiles and gets related.

At one point while the front office clerk was bent over her computer searching for rooms and I stood there with my arms crossed, Terreeia motioned for me to come over, get a smile on my face and uncross my arms.

When we walked to our adjoining rooms facing the highway with a promise to be moved the next day, I asked him which one of us got us moved? Bill or me? I’m guessing it was because of him.

Pool at the Kimpton

The pool at the Kimpton

I was consulting with a client from California recently. She had just moved from New York and as we talked she mentioned that she was enjoying our conversation because of my straightforward, no-nonsense, bossy-but-in-a-charming-way voice.

She confided that when she arrived in LA to stay with her brother and sister-in-law while she was waiting to take possession of her new house, he told her that she needed to tone down her direct and aggresive Eastcoast personality now that she was living in the Westcoast.

I laughed and said that most of my long distance consulting was with readers who live in the East. The percentage of calls that are 3 hours ahead of me is mind-boggling.

I have often thought that if I lived in the East Coast, it would be okay to just be me and then would feel the need to apologize less for my sometimes pushy and impatient personality.

Terreeia won’t even sit down in a restaurant until I am happy with where we’re being seated. She knows. I can’t have glare (my eyes are sensitive) I need atmosphere, and, well, let’s face it, I’m a designer, my standards are high.


Speaking of restaurants, last night we had dinner at El Chorro restaurant not far from where we’re staying. We loved it and highly recommend it. The atmosphere was perfect (check) and the service was fabulous!

The next day someone even called to ask how our dinner was the night before?? Extraordinary!

William and Markus ran right over to the huge cacti to touch it (above), they thought it was very cool.


I always appreciate good design in a commercial bathroom so I thought I’d share this pretty bathroom done in blues with you!


The only thing I would have changed here was the accent strip of blue. I think it would have been perfection if it was just clean, white subway. Just my personal preference.

Wall Sconce

I loved the bullnose edge and wall sconces on both sides of the decorative mirror.

Restaurant Bar

Out in the bar area, I really liked the blue and white parisian style bar stools with terra cotta tiled floors.

Accent Tile

I even snapped a photo of the decorative mosaic around the bar. Normally matchy, matchy tile like this with the same size blue and white pattern in the chair doesn’t work but here it does!


Creative, decorative antlers going down the halls.

Fairy Lights

And pretty fairy lights wrapped around the trees outside the restaurant. With this atmosphere and the service, I can see why it was totally packed.


I snapped a quick picture of Markus outside as we were waiting for our car to take us back to the hotel.

Orange sandals


One great thing about where we’re staying is the Mall is a 10 minute walk from here (although we still take a car because it’s hot!). We had so much fun shopping today! Every single store you can imagine is here.

Since I’m crazy about orange these days I couldn’t resist these Tory Burch sandals. They match my mandarin orange lipstick that I wear constantly from MAC.

Elizabeth & Maria

Bill and Terreeia went to a ball game together around dinner time so Elizabeth and I took the boys to old town for dinner. Here’s a selfie of us!

Ice Cream

William and Markus having desert in the perfect ice cream parlour with carrara topped tables and some more hex tile with blue walls and chairs. So great.


Here’s Elizabeth with her ice cream!

William & Maria

Here’s William and I in an airy taxi on our way back from dinner.


Whenever Markus walks through the front doors of the hotel he says “The sun is broken”.

Our adjoining rooms are great by the way. We arrived Thursday night and Friday when we moved to poolside rooms Markus said “Will you guys be beside us again?

Yes, I said.

Will we have a tunnel from your room to ours?

Of course.

It’s this experience that has me take great lengths to have the rooms that I want so that my nephews can run back and forth, especially at 6:00 am when my sister has already tip-toed over to have coffee with Terreeia and I in our room.

We love it here so much, we’re thinking we need to find some more friends and buy a place here.

Terreeia has arthritis in her fingers and she had really bad allergies that cleared up as soon as we arrived so we need to figure out how we can spend more time here in the desert.

Gotta run, I have to get back to the trashy beach novel I’m reading (I NEVER do that).

Thanks to all my readers who appreciate my direct and bossy-but-in-a-charming way personality.  I love and appreciate you!! xoxo Maria

If you’d like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert!

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  • Mary says:

    Thanks for sharing, BUT, really don’t care.

    • Franny says:

      I agree, save the “sap” for a Christmas newsletter to relatives. Not what I signed up for.

    • Jen says:

      Wow. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

      Maria, I enjoyed hearing about your trip, and your nephews are so sweet!

      • Kim says:

        Ditto what Jen said!

        • Beth says:

          Don’t feed the troll! : ) “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” Wikipedia

          (Of course I just fed him/her.) ; )

          • Mary says:

            I was shocked to read such a rude comment first thing! How unkind! (A different Mary!!)

            I loved seeing and hearing about the resort, Maria, it looked wonderful and hearing about the family is so sweet.

          • Robin says:

            Exactly, you just fed the troll. I agree that this post was interesting (I read every word and I enjoyed it).
            I also believe that if you have nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut.

            There is no amount of finger-wagging that will make a rude commenter stop, so I truly believe it is best to do as a good friend advised me:

          • Robin says:

            oops!! I just replied to Mary, but I meant to reply to Beth.

            Exactly, you just fed the troll. I agree that this post was interesting (I read every word and I enjoyed it).
            I also believe that if you have nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut.

            There is no amount of finger-wagging that will make a rude commenter stop, so I truly believe it is best to do as a good friend advised me:

          • BethB says:

            As did Robin telling me I did. 😉

      • pattie says:

        I’m with you, Jen!!

      • Judy says:

        Jen, I agree with you. It’s lovely.

  • Laura says:

    A lot of bragging here.

  • Maggie S says:

    Love the photos of the bathroom- (and your sweet nephews), I’m redoing my bath and am going to add navy blue in the fabrics/accessories.
    The tile/fixtures are all white/off-white, that way I can add any color in the future -learned that trick from my favorite color expert 😉

  • Diane says:

    Love the orange lipstick! What color is it?

  • Cathy Z says:

    Pay no attention to the first crabby pants comment. I very much enjoy the travel stories and photos, especially the bathroom shots – nice to know I’m not the only one who does that!

  • Victoria says:

    Hey Maria, Rob and I were just in Scottsdale and Sedona a few weeks ago and dined at El Chorro too. Just missed you again in our mutual travels! Maybe one day we will hit the same city the same week!

  • Tamara says:

    Thanks for sharing your travel adventures. Always nice to live vicariously thru others. FYI I spent my birthday in Scottsdale last December, and recommend going back in the winter with your nephews. Be sure to stay at, or at least visit, the Farmont Princess, where they have over a million LED lights strung up over every thing! The fire pits and ice rink are a nice touch, too.

  • Chere says:

    Wow ! If you don’t care then just shut up ! I love Scottsdale , Tuscon etc lots of fun shopping ! If you get a chance eat at the culinary institutes restaurant … Meals cooked by students becoming chefs … Great wine , great food !
    If Tereela feels better there great get a time share…though wArning at some point desert allergies could set …. Sorry about arthritis that’s why lotsa sunbirds there! Also crazy for orange just love it ! Happy vacation and family time ! Beautiful homes in the area!

  • Glad to know I am not the only one who has to approve the table before we sit down, and the hotel room before we check in! And that I can blame my bossy personality on where I live and grew up! Thanks again Maria, enjoy your trip!

  • Joanne says:

    Ha, you are bossy! It’s one of the first things I thought about you on our first call. And I’m in the East, but actually the Southeast and we all know the South likes its women genteel, ha-ha. But anyway, I like and admire bossy women and I was calling so I could be told what to do. I enjoyed this post about your family and travels very much!

    • KA says:

      I was glad to hire Maria BECAUSE she was direct. As a kitchen designer, I’ve helped a well known interior designer in the Santa Barbara area choose sample colors, and because she was so indecisive, she walked out with 16 sample quarts.

      I’d rather pay the fee and get it done right the first time. Without the agony.

  • BethB says:

    I’ve gotten so enamored with navy the last few years that I have to be careful not to over spec it.

  • Wend says:

    I stayed here three years ago before it became a Kimpsky. It had lovely public areas and spa and was in a great location, but the rooms were mediocre to say the least. Looks like a major remodel. Will plan to go back

  • Wend says:

    I have traveled full time for work for 25 years. In my experience, a smile and a “please” and patience get you far more than attitude and cranky do. I’ve seen and done both 🙂

    • maria says:

      I so agree and I really wish it was my automatic way of being 🙁
      Thanks for your comment! Maria

      • Martha says:

        I have to tell a short story. My husbands first response is usually grumpy. We missed a flight in San Fran and as we were waiting in line for a solution he was cussing to no one in particular and I kept telling him hush. When we saw the very verbal and abusive couple in front of us get their tickets torn up he changed his tune. We were able to get another flight that night and found out later that couple had to spend the night in the terminal!

  • Anne says:

    Enjoy your family trip Maria!
    Thanks for sharing the pictures & design.
    What bugs me is that the white of the subway tiles don’t match the cream color of the mosaic floor tiles. Am I to much of a perfectionist Maria?
    We are building a house right now & I am afraid I will drive the tile store people & the builder nuts 🙂
    I love straight forward personalities! I am one & appreciate it in other people instead of going around in circles to express an opinion.
    Enjoy the vacation and let those design pictures coming. We can learn from them!

  • Joanne G says:

    Loved this newsy post and found the design info of the restaurant interesting. I too love navy, I’ve been collecting blue and white china for over twenty years. Can’t wait for the upcoming seminar on exteriors.

  • joanne says:

    Poor Bill. But I’ve always liked a good cop, bad cop story.

  • sandra says:

    thanks for weaving in the design observations with your vacation pics.
    Navy & white is such a solid combination… and orange is one of my favorite colors.
    are the small hexagon tiles a trend to watch for?
    are you seeing more of them in bath & kitchen design?
    you’re terrific Maria… every article is a source of information.

    • maria says:

      Great question and yes they are a big trend, the thing to be careful about is that you can’t stick them in an dated bathroom unless it’s appropriate. They still need to look good with everything else in the bathroom.

      • bfish says:

        Hmmm, I see 1″ hex tiles as a classic, not a trend — similar to subway tiles. Both harken back to early 20th century homes (hex tiles maybe further back; not sure if fancy floor tiling in late Victorian era homes used them or just small squares). We used them in our late 1920s house bathroom remodel about 18 years ago and there were a lot of options available from Dal Tile. They are hardly new or trendy. I’d allow though that most of the installations shown in Dal Tile’s materials then were commercial, not residential.

        They’re really a lot of fun to work with because there are so many color and pattern possibilities. Even though you order the 1′ x 2′ tile sheets with pattern embedded, they are still a lot of work to plan/figure out, and to install.

  • Robert Morris says:

    Found your attitude with the hotel clerk unsettling. My daughter interned for a major hotel last summer. Amazed at the rudeness and stupidity of some hotel guests. Even the most seasoned and creative front desk clerks have limited control over resolving complaints. No need to guess who caused the room upgrade;it wasn’t you.

  • April says:

    Thanks for the post, Maria, I so love getting to know the bloggers that I love, in posts like these!

  • April says:

    P.S. One of my favorite things about your blog is your direct personality. I’m a “beat around the bush” kinda gal, and sometimes I drive myself nuts!

  • joanne says:

    Even though I don’t enjoy reading rude comments, they are acting just as Maria describes herself. So, it probably doesn’t upset her.

  • sandyc says:

    Sorry about the trolls – they must have forgotten it’s your blog and if they’re not interested, they don’t have to read it!

    With regard to Scottsdale and Arizona in general, PLEASE count me as one of your friends in the Southwest and as someone who will be consulting you in the relatively near future. I’m in Sun City West, about 45 miles away and at least an hour’s drive away, but I know Scottsdale, and my late hubby and I dined at El Chorro numerous times early in our move to Arizona and loved everything about it.

    Although Arizona is no longer the mecca for arthritis and allergy sufferers it once was (I’m told that over the years we’ve brought in too many non-native plants and upset the ecological balance of the desert), it’s still a wonderful place to be, especially in the fall, winter and spring – hotter than hell in the summer in most places but there are ways to deal with that. If you don’t want to buy a home here initially or get caught up in a timeshare, there are many people all over the valley who lease their homes regularly and yearly, especially during the fall/winter/spring months (Sept/Oct through March/April) and there could be great situations to be had and new friendships to be formed. And in fact, there could be new opportunities to expand your reach and your work. Desert living is different from that of many of your readers and I often feel that I’m “alone in the wilderness” when it comes to decorating. Certainly I’m having a tough time finding inspiration in homes here in Sun City West (maybe because everyone here comes from some where else and, because the homes are different in style, they don’t know what to do). We could definitely use your presence here (in fact, happily, a new friend down the street just replaced some of her flooring and, because I’d been talking about replacing mine, she asked for my advice which I gave including references to your posts about matching old tile and choosing timeless colors, etc. which she read and absorbed and applied. She now has lovely new flooring where she needed it and she quotes you frequently.

    There’s no reason why you and Terreeia can’t have a great time in Arizona on a regular basis. Really hope you’ll think seriously on it.

  • elaine says:

    Maria – has anyone ever told u that your little blonde nephew looks sooo much like you

  • Judy Jensen says:

    Over the time that I have been watching your blog, learning and having fun but also, I feel as if I have come to know you. Those of us who enjoy the business side of your blog have also come to know the personal Maria(from a reader’s standpoint). Heck! You are on vacation!!!
    I have waited 15 years or so for Navy to be in fashion again. Hope that it stays a long time. I always thought that is was a neutral but….
    There are several times that I have had to apologize for my bluntness. I have come up with several excuses, (reasons): I have a soft voice and no one hears me; I’m originally from Chicago suburbs and to us it is plain speaking(not read between the lines); and/or I’ve had four kids and the quickest way to get something across to them is short and sweet otherwise they will tune you out (so will spouses).
    Have fun making memories and looking forward to your next blog!

  • Cyndia M says:

    So happy you’re having a great time with your family! Love that blue bathroom too!

    Your post comes the day after hubby and I drove 100 miles to one of our favorite restaurants, to eat the best crabcakes I’ve ever had, ONLY TO FIND OUT THEY WERE NO LONGER ON THE MENU! What??? I was very direct in expressing my displeasure to the waitress and the manager, only to find out that their sister restaurant NEXT DOOR was serving them. Irritating that the waitress didn’t tell us that and the manager did, after we had ordered.
    I’m also quite picky about locations of tables and hotel rooms and so on… Hubby just sits back and allows me to choose. And I’m a lifelong “sweet” Southern girl!

  • Martha says:

    Although, for the bathroom I think I would have liked the blue on the bottom and the white on the top of the walls and ceiling. I don’t like cave-like bathrooms.

  • Martha Hughes says:

    Funny we are vacationing in Care Free just north of Phoenix. Staying in a friend’s 2nd home up on a mountain. I’m glad you are enjoying your vacation.

  • T. Wright says:

    Good post, love the photos of the bathroom, bar and last but certainly not least those adorable, sweet little boys!!! Does their Dad have dark hair……?? Cute that one is so fair the other not, joking about the Dad, not my business for certain, couldn’t resist since Mom seems very fair.
    Looks & sounds like y’all are having a blast, good for you! Always wanted to ride in a really biiiiiiiiiiiig limo so I’m a bit green, oops, will that undertone match my lavender yard shorts & aqua /white yard shirt, I think not, jealous green goes with nothing?!?!
    Have fun and keep the great photos coming!

  • Thanks for the heads up about the hotel and that restaurant, we hope to swing by there in October- will def. check them out 🙂
    Relax and enjoy your vacation!

  • parisgirl says:

    We were supposed to spend time in the South West during our last trip to the States in 2012. However due to Super Storm Sandy and later snow dumps in Philly we had to curtail our plans and drop the SW off our itinerary. We will get there next time as really want to visit Arizona. In the meantime I will live vicariously through other people’s travels. I enjoyed the post Maria, even on holiday you manage find colour inspiration.

  • Carol J says:

    Maria, Thanks for your post. Wonderful pictures and nice descriptions of the color schemes and layout at the hotel AND the bathroom. I’m glad you had such a great trip.

  • Mary-Illinios says:

    Hi Maria, Thanks for sharing your vacation pics. And I can’t get enough of your adorable nephews.
    No pics of Terreeia or your brother in-law?

  • smith207 says:

    I lived in Scottsdale/Phoenix for 5 years and have had many friends and family members stay at that hotel. Enjoy your time and I highly recommend Pizzeria Bianco for dinner 🙂

  • Angela T. says:

    Love seeing those boys growing up…thanks for sharing:)
    PS Arizona was my first home in the US when I came over from the UK…loved it, but love the NW too.

  • bfish says:

    I believe Maria’s directness and “doesn’t suffer fools gladly” approach has come through clearly in her blog posts all along — and I’m all for it. As another direct, to-the-point person it’s relatable — as well as her honest recounting of the its pitfalls. She has a partner who is wise and helps soften the sharp edges when needed; I’m fortunate to have the same!

    I’ve had other women comment on my directness even when I’ve consciously pulled my punchs. This has given me a lot to think about regarding the differences between expectations of men’s and women’s demeanor, respectively, in the workplace.

    Don’t change Maria! If one wants phony humility and insipid “I love everybody and everything”, there are plenty of other bloggers out there feeding that to their audiences.

  • Judy says:

    I loved this article and seeing such a beautiful hotel with all those gorgeous colours!

  • Pam Lee says:

    “Terreeia won’t even sit down in a restaurant until I am happy with where we’re being seated. She knows.” My husband knows the same thing about me. He says, “Why don’t you just tell them where you want to sit as soon as we walk in the door?” I love your blog!

  • Jenn says:

    If you feel the need to come down to Chandler (SE of Scottsdale) and give some decorating advice, I’d be happy to send you my address. 😉

  • Connie says:

    Just to remind those nasties, it IS a post about color and design…in the resort, in the restarant, in fashion…..
    I do have a question Canadians say “so & I” rather than “so & so and me”? (i.e. “with Terreeia and I in our room”.) Sorry, I am somewhat of a grammar geek.

    • mairi says:

      Using for example “Jane Doe and I ” was drilled into us throughout grade school here in Canada in my experience. As a Commonwealth nation, we have basically been taught the British grammar rules, of which this is one.
      Other examples of this influence would be in spelling- colour instead of color and honour vs. honor and so on. Regional differences are the most interesting…

    • Julie says:

      Hi Connie…I’m in Canada, but was always taught to say, for example, the picture is of my friend and me, although the friend and I went to get it taken….The test was to drop the reference to the other person ie the picture is of me, mot the picture is of I. Also, I went, not me went. (apparently I’m better at that than sentence structure and punctuation lol)

      • Connie says:

        Julie, That is what I was taught also. Does it ring in your head funny when you read or hear grammar errors? it does for me! lol.

  • elizabeth dana says:

    Hi Maria:

    I like the way you point out everyday public places that we can visit and give us insight on the colors and decorating. I think it’s better than any showroom or magazine because it’s real life. Also those kids are so cute. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trips. I’m a native New Yorker and I have no loss for words either. It’s instinct. I’ve gone on cruises years later only to be remembered by the crew because of my likes and dislikes etc. We are no wallflowers…………………………..

    Thanks Maria


  • Ginger Runnels says:

    El Chorro is our favorite place for a special dinner.
    Instead of ordinary bread or rolls, they serve delicious warm “sticky buns” that just melt in your mouth. And their famous fried lobster is to die for.
    Like the sticky buns, el Choro just oozes with atmosphere~ especially on an evening when the sky is truly turquoise and the bright orange sun is setting (complimentary colors!) The sky is an intensly beautiful color there because of the dry climate…Hope you take those boys up to Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon and the you must see the red rock formations in Sedona!

  • Judy says:

    Wow, I agree such hurtful comments. Now I feel guilty about asking you to take a look at my home while you are here in Arizona. Have a wonderful vacation and looking forward to your services as planned in June.

  • franki says:

    Your blog, your choice!! LUV the sandals!! Have FUN! franki

  • BillP says:

    Turning the tables on hotel rooms, my Canada story was checking into the Sheraton in Fredericton, NB. about 12 years ago. It was early April, icebergs were floating down the St. John River. The hotel was nearly empty, and when I asked for a riverside room, the response was “no, you didn’t pay for one.” The receptionist may have been alarmed by the rude American when I told her that if one more person got checked into the parking lot side, the hotel would tip over. I got the glorious river view. Oh, and it’s great fun to visit hotels for design ideas, thank you for the pics, Maria!

  • Fran says:

    I love the way you weave travel and family stories into your blog, Maria. That’s how we get to know you as a friend as well as a colour expert. Glad you had a wonderful time in Scottsdale!

  • megeranski says:

    To get things done, one needs a fully loaded tool belt. Then, you go on to learn how and for what application a tool is need.
    Then you can accomplish anything.

    To be rude or direct, if it is the ONLY tool in the tool belt, will limit what kind of life can be built, is all.
    As one of a multitude of tools, is a perfect addition and should be kept honed and handy for those times when other tools won’t do.

    Am tickled to hear of your vacation, just like enjoy hearing about other parts of your life.
    This is YOUR blog, not ours, for crying out loud.

    Guess that is part of the price of celebrity-dom, so relish the comments as part of ‘arriving’ at a degree of fame. Your ‘public’ has expectations, which is a good and a bad thing. Those of us who just plain LIKE you will never care and are tickled to read all aspects of you.

    In sum:
    Opinionated is fun and exciting.
    Judgmental is just bad manners.

    I have adored hex tiles forever forever forever. Will never care one fig if they are trendy or not.

    An extra-fun post, full of LOTS of gems!

    Thanks, you!!!

    p.s. I have always cared a great deal about where to sit, as well. ROFLOL
    I consider it a sign of superior intelligence, to be so aware of surroundings. (am laughing SO HARD!!!!)

  • If anyone is looking for an on-site True Colour Expert trained by Maria, in the Scottsdale, Arizona area – Annie Vincent is amazing. Here’s her website I highly recommend her!

  • Aww thanks for the mention Jil!
    Great choice in dining, Maria! I love that bathroom as well. See you next time you visit!

  • Ann says:

    Great post! Don’t change a thing.

  • Carol says:

    Love the post and especially how you critiqued the bathroom, you have me doing this now when I go out. Yes, you would fit in perfectly on the east coast, with the Yankees, but they do say the dry Arizona desert is great for your health. Me, I am a southern girl where you can cut the humid thick air with a knife. I like hearing about your adventures because you always throw in a decorating tip. We like to know you are human! Now the above troll, not sure where she would fit in best in the country, maybe she is from across the pond!

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