Smile Sweetly and Ask Nicely While You’re on Vacation

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

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leave aREPLY

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. “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!

  7. 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. 😉

  8. 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.

    • 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…

    • 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)

      • 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.

  9. 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


  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!!!)

  15. 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!