Urban Cottage Style Blog

Bear Fetish

Bear Fetish

When you're struggling with change or with a tough decision, do you look for inspiration from the world around you? Like trying to find signs on an uncertain hiking trail, do you look for validation that you're headed in the right direction, doing the right thing?  If you do, then I'm not alone in this. 

During my recent trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the gift shop of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, I browsed a small collection of Zuni fetishes. In Zuni culture, a fetish represents the animal spirit that is believed to reside in stone. Each is small, less than an inch tall, and hand carved from various materials local to the Zuni artist. 

Bear spoke to me. His symbolism resonated even more when I learned more about him. 

In Zuni culture, prey gods watch over other animals from six sacred directions: North, South, East, West, Below, and Above. Bear is the guardian and master of the West. Bear represents healing and spiritual communion, strength, courage, and adaptability. Zuni believe that the Bear is invaluable if you are faced with change and transition, as he symbolizes introspection needed to process change. Imagine a bear in hibernation, still and waiting for the new season. 

Oh, Bear. I hear you.

Zuni Bear fetish with fetish bundle

The fetish bundle tied to his back offers favors to the animal spirit. Typically tied with sinew or waxed cotton cord, it includes an arrow head and small pieces of coral and turquoise. A fetish may have a visible "heart line," an arrow-like mark from the animal's mouth to its heart. This represents breath as the life force of the animal.

Although fetishes are traditionally kept in a clay pot or in a small pouch to be carried by the owner, this Bear rests right here on this old chest in my living room. 

He reminds me every day that the stillness that may come with figuring things out is a necessary part of embracing change.

All styling and photography by Urban Cottage Style, unless otherwise noted.

Exploring Santa Fe

Exploring Santa Fe

We were itching to get away for a quick trip in early June. We'd planned to head to California, but when that trip was delayed, we switched directions. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an easy day's drive from Boulder and as we'd never been, that's where we headed.


Canyon viewOur trip began with a surprise. Expecting a hotter and drier climate than we experience near Boulder, we were surprised by the lush Cimarron Canyon along Highway 64 to Taos, north of Santa Fe. Elevation here is about 7,000 feet. It slows drive time, but the views are worth it, particularly if you plan to tour Taos or the Taos Pueblo.

Adobe Charm 

carved doorway to an adobe

stone house and carved door

rows of wooden vigas support the roof of this church in Questa

roses draped over lodge pole fence

white roses on fence

Santa Fean architecture relies on local materials to create adobe mud-walled homes with flat roofs supported by rows of wooden vigas. Roses seem to love the sun and soil of Santa Fe! Everywhere you look, they tumble carelessly over low adobe walls and lodge pole fences.  

Two Casitas Santa FeWe stayed in a charming VRBO through Two Casitas. An authentic adobe home, it is in a quiet residential neighborhood within easy walking distance to the downtown Plaza and Canyon Road art galleries. Super cute, and the roses framing this door smelled wonderful!


santa fe plaza palace of the governors(Photo via pinterest)sculpture along canyon road

store courtyardsFor authentically handcrafted Native American jewelry, head to the portal of the Governor's Palace alongside the downtown Plaza. As they have for hundreds of years, Native Americans sell their handcrafted jewelry here through the Native American Vendors Program. The program certifies that each artist is of authentic Native American bloodline and they are personally handcrafting their work. With concerns about being able to discern what is true turquoise and what isn't (buyer beware!), a pricey, local Plaza jeweler assured me any turquoise sold through the vendor program is authentic. You're getting the real deal and it's especially gratifying to speak to the artist first hand. Costs are lower than at other high-rent jewelry stores near the Plaza, and the proceeds go directly to the artist. 

From the Plaza, walk out Canyon Road for a good half-day tour of art galleries mixed with antique stores, outdoor sculptures, and patches of well cared-for gardens.

 Seret and Sons Vintage Store

For vintage funk, head to the Railyard for a more casual approach to vintage hunting and boutique browsing. Seret and Sons near the railyard is a huge store filled with architectural finds from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia, and Tibet. Rugs, tapestries, Asian cabinets and trunks, carved wooden doors and columns, iron gates and fencing -- it'll blow your mind! We were excited to salvage a rusty old steel table base that will make its home in our garden patio space. 


A friend who frequents Santa Fe had given excellent recommendations on local restaurants. After a long, hot day we ended up sipping Margaritas in the shaded patio space outside the top-rated Dragon Room bar with dinner at adjacent The Pink Adobe

Dragon Bar Santa Fe

The Pink Adobe Restaurant Santa FeThe Pink Adobe didn't disappoint. The warm-from-the-oven blue corn bread was amazing! Reservations recommended.

Pueblo Culture

Taos Pueblo

San Geronimo Church Taos Pueblo

Handcarved wooden doors of the church in Taos Puebloold San Geronimo church ruins and cemetery Taos Pueblo

Twenty-two tribes and nations are represented in the state of New Mexico, with eight Pueblos located near Santa Fe. We visited the Taos Pueblo. Following tradition, the 150 Taos tribe members who live in this 1,000-year-old Pueblo full time do so with no electricity or running water. The population swells during summer and during ceremonies, when many tribe members living outside the walls return to the pueblo.

The ruins of the original San Geronimo church stand near the Pueblo's cemetery, marking the tragedy of an 1847 US military attack that killed hundreds of Tiwa women and children hiding in the church. The handmade, handcarved wooden crosses create a particularly poignant, reverent atmosphere here.

Museum Hill & Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

cactus closeupSanta Fe is rated #3 by Travel + Leisure for its more than 20 museums, so make sure to plan time to visit at least a few.  A shuttle bus or short ride by car takes you to Museum Hill, where you'll find the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. We toured the Wheelwright museum and picked up a few treasures from their gift shop. The entire area of Museum Hill is a peaceful, restorative site with beautiful views of the Santa Fe landscape and so worth a visit.

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe

(Photo by Maria Chabot, 1944)

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe made northern New Mexico her home and studio from 1945-1984. The Georgia O'Keeffe museum is dedicated to her works and is a short walk from the downtown Plaza. My own awareness of O'Keeffe's works was limited to her late-in-life, expansive landscapes and detailed floral abstractions. We spent about 90 minutes viewing her eye-opening exhibit. A critical player in American Modernism, O'Keeffe's artistic capture of the American Southwest helped define the American voice as distinctly different from European arts.

Plan ahead and schedule a tour of Ghost Ranch, O'Keeffe's home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico. 

Horses near Questa NM

This friendly group of locals was photographed in Questa, a small town north of Taos. Such a gorgeous group!

All styling and photography by Urban Cottage Style, unless otherwise noted.

(Subtle) Red, White, and Blue Celebration

(Subtle) Red, White, and Blue Celebration

For those of us living near Boulder, Colorado, Memorial Day marks the beginning of outdoor celebrations. That's especially true this year, since heavy, late-season snowfall has delayed our outdoor gardening and our patio living.

So with a long weekend and warm days ahead, we've updated our backyard patio with a subtle take on the red, white, and blue. It's a nod to our patriotic spirit and a big headshake to summer blossoms and outdoor living. Many of the pillows and vintage tabletop shown here are available in the shop. 

blue matelasse floral pillow on benchWe started with our large blue floral matelasse pillow from the shop. At 24 inches and bursting with color and large-scale, casual blossoms, it brings summer to the patio real fast.

Although this teak bench and lounge chairs are several years old, they've held up well with little maintenance. Every spring, the white cotton canvas slipcovers are washed and air dried.  (Don't put them in the dryer, a mistake I once made.) Although I was hesitant to purchase white cushions at first, they've proven to be easy to clean and work as a fresh backdrop for just about anything.

blue matelasse floral pillow on patio benchWe added our linen French ticking stripe lumbar pillow .

pillow mix on benchThe pom poms and blue and blue and white stripes of a cotton throw from One King's Lane make for an inexpensive way to say, really, just relax. It's light and summery and fun. And it gets a lot of use on chilly coffee-on-the-patio mornings.

The floral lumbar pillow on the lounge chair was a fun find from Homegoods earlier this spring. Besides the casual, rosy floral, embroidered French knots and ribbons add great texture.

If you follow me on Instagram (@urbancottagestyle), you know I'm working on bringing more large container plantings right up on to the patio to snug around the seating. You can see a few of of those in this shot (spirea, patio tree, and mint), but there's so much more to do, so I'll save that topic for a later blog post. 

red white and blue vintage tablewareA simple, striped Pottery Barn table runner and a mix of casual vintage plates, bowls, and platters from the shop bring subtle patriotic color to the table. Unless I'm serving a whole lot of people, we don't do paper plates. This is an unfussy, casual mix.

Flowers are foraged. (Please don't tell my neighbor from down the block, whose full-blown viburnum was hanging well over the fence and in easy reach from the public sidewalk.)

casual red white and blue vintage tablewareVintage floral plates from the shop are topped with a low scalloped bowl from Pottery Barn

white stool with Pottery Barn dipping bowlCan red, white, and blue get simpler than this? The Pottery Barn bowl tops a white garden stool from Ballard Designs. Linen napkin also from Pottery Barn.

side view of pillow mix on benchWe can't wait to begin enjoying our updated outdoor space now that winter is at last behind us. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Note: Urban Cottage Style pillows shown here are not performance fabric and not intended for full-time outdoor use. Summertime rain around Boulder is surprisingly frequent and unpredictable, so all our outdoor furniture is protected with Thos. Baker covers when not in use. Keeps those white cushions whiter longer, too!

All styling and photography by Urban Cottage Style, unless otherwise noted.