Saturday, January 28, 2012


For thousands of years, letter writing has been the primary form of communication.   In fact, I recently read that George Washington wrote over 40,000 letters in his lifetime, many of which were written while he was in office.  Sadly, the personal letter has turned into an email in which to say hello, thank you or come for dinner.  The joy of letter writing is becoming a lost art and that walk to the mail box is producing less and less excitement when all that awaits us is junk mail and bills.  I have decided with  the vast assortment of writing materials available, we have no excuses NOT to take the time to sit down and compose a letter to a dear friend or loved one.   First thing to do is create an atmosphere that is quiet, peaceful and cozy.  .  .  .  .

                     This desk is over 100 years old.  It belonged to my grandmother.
I sat at this desk as a child and played school.  I had my crayons in the
small drawer to the right and they stayed there all of the time.  When I
would spend the night with my Grandma and Aunt, my crayons were
always waiting for me.  Then one day, this desk became mine. . .

This desk sits in a cozy corner up in the loft and I have
recently gathered a lot of my writing materials into one place.

A cozy lamp, a tray filled with great stationery, a brass container
full of birthday cards,  thank you note cards, old books,( but of course),
a picture of my mom and me, a candle, fresh flowers and stamps.
No excuse here for not having all of the accoutremonts necessary for
sharing thoughts with a special friend in the absense of a computer!!!

I have put a few pens into a flower vase which works well
and looks attractive . . .

The oval crystal and silver box on the silver tray is a find from
France that was under dust and piles of old papers.  The silver top
was black as was the little tray beneath, polished it looks
 wonderful.  It used to be used for pates.  Today I use it for my
stamps and paper clips and I love how perfectly it works on my desk.

Tonight, I lit a candle, drank a cup of tea and wrote my daughter
a letter. . . . . it was quiet and the ambiance perfect.  Thoughts
came easily and I couldn't have enjoyed more, putting my pen to
paper and sharing thoughts that would be mailed in
the morning.  Have you seen the new Chinese New Year stamps?
They are beautiful in shades of powder blue and coral with touches
of soft yellow. . . .and yes, that coral envelope matched the
stamp beautifully . . . . ok, I guess that is just my design
sense kicking in . . . but it did look pretty.

The cubbies of this desk are half the fun. . . they are packed full of note cards
letter press stationery and fun seals for the back of an envelope.

This chubby little blue bird sits on the upper part of the desk.
He holds dear memories for me.  In preparation for the Christmas
holidays when I owned the store, my mom admired him .
She and my dad helped mark product as it was shipped and made
Christmas a little easier that year.  .   .  .  .I wanted to pay them
for their help and they wouldn't take a penny.  Christmas morning they
each opened one of these birds that I had attached a hundred dollar
bill to the underside.   SURPRISE!!  I think we sold over 100 of
these little guys.

Fresh flowers, and a letter to
be answered. . .

It truly was a joy sitting here tonight with pen in hand, classical
music, a cup of tea.  All was quiet and serene in this little
corner of my world. . . . . I encourage you to try it and help
me to revive the lost art of letter writing.     When you have a little
space with a hard surface, pretty note cards or stationery, a cozy
atmosphere in which to write, you too will be encouraged
to take the time. . . . . . . no searching for writing materials
and no excuses to answer letters (and they will come!)   Who knows
someday, if I had your address, you might go to your mailbox
and find a letter from me!


New from crane's

Poor photo but oh so charming this french thank you note, by
cheree berry

One of my very favorite note cards from a company
called local wisdom


This is another design from cheree berryGreat white card stock,
lining of envelope to match the  engraved printing oxox on the card.  I think
some of her designs are the best I have seen in awhile.  Even the edges
are painted on these cards.

The new stamps that were just released to celebrate the
Chinese New Year.  .  .  so colorful.  These stamps are
referred to as Commemorative Stamps.

Ashley's in Clarendon Hills (suburb of Chicago) will not disappoint!
She has selected for her customers some of the most beautiful invitations,
announcements and personalized stationery for adults as will as children.
Her staff is friendly (ask for Denise) and always ready to assist you with your writing needs.

Wedding invitation offerings are plentiful and always so beautifully
done.  Save the date, shower invitations, books on wedding etiquette await the bride. 
Sample books are numerous for your custom selections as you finalize
your special day.   This staff is so ready to ease your concerns and make
wonderful suggestions when you are sometimes so overwhelmed. 

  Ashley's also carry
Vera Bradley accessories and Lilly Pulitzer stationery, books, calendars
and desk accessories,  as well the stationery line of Kate Spade.
    Great gift ideas and decorative accessories for the home complete
what you may find at Ashley's.
If you wish to visit, in order to get your little corner of the world ready
for writing, they can be found at:

ASHLEY'S Custom Stationery  & More
22 S. Prospect Ave.
Clarendon Hills, Illinois 60514

If you happen to be in the neighborhood at lunch time, just walk across the
street to REDD HERRING  ~ great food and open for lunch! (and of course
dinner too!) 

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Yesterday's design appointment ended up being canceled due to winter snow conditions (I started out with my faux artist anyway) and attempted the roads. . . . . we soon realized that we would go no where fast!!!  So home I came with an afternoon FREE of commitments.  Hmmmm, I really should finish putting Christmas away (we were in Mexico remember?)  But, creativity was on HIGH, so I started to create!   I looked at a stack of silver charges ready to go to the storage area and I thought, winter. . . . . .

A Winter table scape

My thoughts were to use my extra large woven chargers with
my silver chargers . . .

I love the contrast of the rustic woven charger with the silver leaf
charger. . . . rather than use colored napkins, I decided to use
my vintage white linen napkins purchased many years ago.

Those antique hand carved utencils were a "had to have"
purchase from Joy over at
(She has an on line store that is not to be missed)    As for the soup bowl,
I felt like a bit of color was in order and stayed with green which
was a gentle transition with the topiaries which were green.

The look. . . . .

I pulled out my vintage wooden floor grate and gathered
the accessories of the table in "tray form"  Another bit
of texture that was pleasing. . .

Can you imagine the workman ship that used to go into
making just the floor grates in the home?  Today they
have been repurposed . . . . but of course!

I then added a depression glass dome with
a battery operated tea light. . .

As for the great background of a carpet of snow . . .
Mother Nature in all of her winter glory finally
paid a visit.

Another element of 'old' was in order and taken from
the dining room . . . .a chippy and wonderful  column base.
On this pedestal, a little container of pate, white porcelain
and pewter salt and peppers and a small vintage ceramic
clown for storing my pate knives.


One more thing. . . . the table at one end lacked height and
I remembered a family heirloom that was used at my great
grandfathers table . . . . .PERFECT. . .a  pewter water pitcher to
complete the 'scape'



Mary Anne

*  *  *

                      This past week I set a luncheon table for an old Robins Egg Blue
customer and have been called to do a dinner table for another client
next week. . . .  followed by a shower in February. . .  if you wish me to create a table for a breakfast, dinner party or
any kind of special occasion, email me @ to make
an appointment. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012


                          Our yearly anticipated trip to Mexico was everything we hoped it would be
                            but, this year held a wonderful surprise that left us all very humbled. . . .
 . .                            

The music, so happy and spirited

The flowers, so tropical and so colorful

Where blue skies meet the aqua blue waters of the sea. . . 

.  .  .  .if you can imagine relaxing under palm-thatched palapas while
sipping Margaritas, reading a book of choice and bathing in the
Mexican Caribbean, then you know how our days were spent, so blessed
and so content.

One of two books I read . . .

The second book of choice

I highly recommend them both!

As members of this resort, we watched these palapas being
                            built by a labor force of hard working Mexican men.  They never
seem to tire, they are so grateful for their jobs and offer kindnesses
that are humbling in spite of their daily wage ~ not to mention
their beautiful smiling faces no matter where your steps take
you daily.

This is the interior (the underside) of a palapa.  The beach
palapas are only about 8' in diameter.

I look at this gorgeous view and I am reminded of the oils
painted by Steve Gianetti.  Brooke, is his wife
 who originated the blog, Velvet and Linen.
Their blog can be found by clicking on this link, ( They have recently launched
a book called Patina Style that is not to be missed)  I call it
my Patina bible.

Mary Anne (that would be me), Roger, Kimmy and her
boyfriend, Rick out for dinner at The Distilleria.  This restaurant
was a former tequilla  distillery with the huge vats still on
the premises.

Glass floats decorated this restaurant in each
and every little space . . .

Mexican crafts and always with candles . . .


. . . . more Mariachi's and our daughter Kimmy

.  .  .  .  this gal could really sing and did so with all she had because
of one of our requests. . . . . . La Paloma

A surprise meeting of friends from the Chicago
Merchandise Mart!!  (borrowed hats from the

Our Kimmy with a borrowed Mexican guitar, serenading my
friends from the Chicago Mart. . . . and this was truly a hilarious
Kodak moment!!


 One morning at breakfast, our waiter for the past 8 years
and whom we had gotten to know and love, extended an invitation
to us for dinner at his home with his family.  (We had sent clothes to
his family after the devasting hurricane about four years ago
and our friendship just began
to grow).

The beautifully set table in our honor . .

I knew it would be an exceptional evening which
would be heartfelt and humbling.

It is no secret that the Mexican culture loves color . . . . the table
was so colorful with there best dishes used in our honor.

The food, the salads. . .

Six year old Alesandra

Buddies. . . .and friends.   Our waiter of 8 years and my
husband who called him our Mexican son!

Accessories in their home. . .

A father and his daughter. . . .

A father and his son, who had just returned from
school. . . . . high school hours were from 1:30 p.m.
to 7:00 p.m.  He would join us for dinner.

A very small bathroom that was guest ready
and spotless!

The tiny bathroom so small, I soon realized that the
sink was outside the bathroom door with flowers, fresh soaps
and guest towels for use.

A vintage cabinet for the purpose of great storage usage
chippy and all!!

As I descended the cement steps and looked up, I
caught the perspective of this perfect little place that
was too precious for words.

The galley kitchen

Good byes at their front door.

I just knew we were in for a real treat from the day of the invitation
to this memorable night.    This small casa, so welcoming and so warm
with children so well behaved and so respectful of their parents. . . .
the food, the gift of friendship shared with us so givingly and with
pride.  My heart was heavy when we left knowing that his earnings
for a couple of days made this night possible.
WOW, I knew this experience would be life changing and it was.

Until we meet again  (as I clicked my camera and as if on command
a seagull flew across this sunset) and made this
effort none other than perfect!

                                                                   Buenos Nochas