We MUST support small local businesses, today and every day. We want them to survive this crazy time to be there for us to enjoy their unique offerings when we celebrate our “new normal”. We CAN do this!!!!



I started thinking about this post when I did the Paint By Number piece, and while I don’t have any Ceramic Christmas trees in my collection (I actually collect Christmas Angels), I do find them charming. I found several at the Randolph Street Market….while the Market is on hiatus you might try Etsy or EBay. Many of the vintage versions commend mega dollars….again educate yourself or just buy what you like.

Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market

Both the above examples were found at RSM…delightful. Photos taken by Nena Ivon.

“Ceramic Christmas trees were a common sight in the late 1960s and early ’70s. They usually came in green or white, had colorful twinkle lights, and occasionally rotated and played music. By the 1980s, the kitschy keepsakes had declined in popularity, but today they’re experiencing a nostalgia-fueled comeback.” The originals were painted and decorated in craft classes. Most of the original molds have been lost or destroyed. (Quote from the Mental Floss website).

“Back in the 1960-1970’s, Mom or Grandma wanted to create their own gifts, keepsakes, pots, and dinnerware so they went to learn how to paint their own ceramics at a local shop. This lead to holiday decorations and – you guessed it – ceramic trees!

Several different ceramic mold companies in the Midwest started producing their own version of the now classic Ceramic Christmas Tree. The earliest versions of trees had tiny electric bulbs that lit individually. As technology developed in plastics and lighting, the older versions of tiny individual bulbs were replaced by trees that lit from within using only one light bulb to light and entire tree that is decorated with small, colorful plastic “bulbs.”

Vintage trees from this era are painted in a variety of colors, styles and textures. Some are glazed, some finished in acrylic paint, some with snow and many without, but one thing is clear — people still love those remarkable handmade ceramic Christmas Trees!

Since these trees are made from fired clay, little care is required, making them perfect for holiday decorations and gifts that easily last many, many years.” From Ceramic Christmas Trees Info website.

A few unusual ones….plus some display ideas.

Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market

Ready to be adorned…

Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market

Perfect for a Mid-Century Modern home…

Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market

You knew I would include a book, here you go.

Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market

Several ceramic vintage and modern menorahs to celebrate Hanukkah, stunning examples to honor the tradition. Definitely not DIY!

Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market
Ceramic Christmas Trees Randolph Street Market

All photos unless otherwise noted from Pinterest credit unknown.


A peek at some of my fashion library.

When I was asked to do a piece for The Book Stall Newsletter I was overwhelmed with excitement. Why you might ask, the answer is a simple one I’ve been in love with books, one could say, obsessed, since I was a child. I have read and was read to, I think, since birth. I loved my library at my Evanston primary school, where I spent many hours helping in the stacks…as well as visiting the fabulous Evanston Public Library with Daddy every Saturday morning, and the amazing book floor at Marshall Fields State Street (remember that!), where a special friend of my family, “Aunt Harriet”, held court in the fiction area. She always let me select a book from the children’s area that she would give me, pure Heaven.

Marshall Field’s book department early 1900’s. Photo courtesy of James McKay of the Marshall Field & Co., History & Future + Memorabilia by Field’s Fans Chicago Group on Facebook.

My copy for The Book Stall….reprinted with permission…I’ve added some photos….

My love for Independent Bookstores began with The Main Street Book Store on Michigan Avenue, just down the street from my work, where I spent many a lunch hour browsing and buying the newest fiction, mysteries and lifestyle books. And now my Independent Bookseller of choice is the amazing The Book Stall in Winnetka. I live in downtown Chicago so I must take the Metra to visit this perfect environment.

With this history of loving books it was an easy transition to start a Book Club thus nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club was born and who better to partner with me to provide our reviewed books than The Book Stall. I also do book reviews, as well as many topics that strike my fancy, for this blog.

I wanted to share some of my current, and a couple not so current but important for my list of recommended titles, books to add to your library as well as think of as gifts. I am an extremely eclectic reader with emphasis on Fashion/Lifestyle books for my Book Club. Other interests are historical fiction especially English or French themes with a bit of the Gilded Age thrown in. Also think of the new books from Fiona Davis and Rhys Bowen. I’m learning toward some Russian fiction, think A Gentleman in Moscow for an example. Mysteries, not thriller nor anything scary, more Louise Penny (who doesn’t love Armand!), Charles Finch, Cara Black, Charles Todd, Steve Berry and an occasional Cozy such as Laura Child and, of course Christie.

A very small sampling of my cookbooks.

I also collect cookbooks, not only for recipes but to read as well…the usual suspects, Ina Garden, her new one is, of course a must have, Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry, some of the books by Food bloggers such as Half Baked Harvest, love anything from Edna Lewis, as well as anything on New Orleans, Jubilee, a true gem and the new bio on James Beard, The Man Who Ate Too Much, a must read.

Now my recommendations for Fashion/Lifestyle (my fashion library is 1000 volumes and growing!). NORELL, one of many monographs by the uber fashion insider, Jeffrey Banks, you can’t go wrong with anything he writes.

The brand new book from the exquisite writer and lifestyle guru Hamish Bowles, Frederick Forquet: Fashion.Interiors.Gardens, it is breathtakingly beautiful and features a fabulous designer many are not familiar with, it is my December nenasnotes The Fashion book Club selection.

Here are a few more for your consideration, by the way, The Book Stall always has an extensive fashion and lifestyle collection. Here we go…Supreme Models; André Leon Talley A memoir; the brand new bio on Richard Avedon, What Becomes A Legend Most (an upcoming Book Club Selection);

About Time: Fashion and Duration (be sure to read Virginia Wolf’s Orlando the Met’s exhibitions inspiration) and finally, this list could fill pages, Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things.

Of course no fashion book list could be complete without some Chanel books and there are several new ones, both non-fiction, (perhaps an oxymoron in Chanel’s case) and fiction, I recommend Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto, Chanel’s Riviera, Mistress of The Ritz, The Queen of Paris, The Last Collection, The Real Coco Chanel and the upcoming The Chanel Sisters, there is no end to the fascination with Chanel!

I hope I have given you some new titles to add to your list…the selections are endless…happy reading!



“Dear Customers,

As we watch Covid-19 cases in Illinois rise to alarming levels, it’s clear that we need to alter our operations to keep you and our staff safe. Starting this Monday, November 23, we are temporarily stopping in-store shopping. Fortunately, there are still many ways we can help you with your holiday list, and we’re committed to making this season as merry and bright as possible!
For more information, or if you need help with gift ideas, call us at (847) 446-8979, or email us (

  • Shopping from the comfort of your couch? No problem, we’ll deliver* or ship!
  • Feel like getting out of the house? We’ll continue to offer front-door pick-up.Need a puzzle? Browse our windows and choose your favorite! This is a difficult time, but please stay tuned as we refine our efforts to get books into your hands.

Our Red Invitation Sale will be entirely online (and by phone!) and we’re happy to extend the 20% discount from Friday, December 4 (starting at midnight Thursday night) until midnight on Sunday, December 6.
*Delivery is $4 and available in the following communities: Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Northfield, Glencoe, Highland Park, Glenview and Evanston.”


I am beyond excited to share the most amazing fruitcake, don’t scoff…it is addictively delicious! It is from my dear friend, TOM MANTEL, it is his family recipe and one he does not share. I DONT HAVE ENOUGH THANK YOU’S THAT I HAVE BEEN TRUSTED TO SHARE THIS WITH ALL OF YOU! You are in for a truly amazing treat. Since everyone has been baking bread for the first time during the Pandemic this should be a snap!

Why today you might ask, well for many years I have had the supreme pleasure of being with My Toms for a marathon shopping, cooking, eating…repeat…week, that would have begun yesterday and continued through the Friday after Thanksgiving. I might add, lots of giggling and lots of wine!!!!! Obviously that isn’t happening in this very strange year! Today would have been fruitcake making day, lots of fruitcakes, (along with other goodies we have added over the years). After being an apprentice for several years in the fruitcake ritual (and it is just that!!!!!) last year I was elevated to doing my own batter! Oh my the pressure…here I am very seriously, and a bit nervously, measuring the spices.

Being entrusted with the batter quite the upgraded status!
A quick shifting of dry ingredients.
The bouquet of spices
The finished product, served for Christmas on one of my green transferware plates, I can’t wait for this years edition, and am anxiously looking forward to the day I can again be involved in our Holiday Cooking Marathon!


Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!!!!!!


Oh yes, there is more yumminess…..first up from the kitchen of GREG HYDER with his Grandmother’s Icebox Cookies

“Here is my grandmothers icebox cookie recipe. The great things about these cookies were that you could make the dough and put it in the freezer as long as you need. Or she would make the cookies in the fall and then cut them out and freeze them and bring them out for the holidays. Because they do last so the durability of these cookies as one of the best aspects about them they’re very simple but they’re easy to cut out in shapes which is one of the fun things she would also add colors to them and sprinkles so you could do stars or Christmas trees or whatever.”

From my dear friends at THE DEARBORN, courtesy of Clodagh Lawless, Proprietor, The Dearborn


Yield: approx. 12 cookies

½ lb butter

4oz granulated sugar

7 oz brown sugar

2 eggs

1 pinch vanilla

1 ¾ Cup AP flour

1 pinch cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch salt

2 Cup chocolate chips (mix milk, dark and white)

1Cup chocolate chips separated from above (for topping)•

Preheat oven to 330F • in a large mixer cream butter and sugars with paddle until light and fluffy. • Scrape down sides of bowl• Add eggs one at a time on low speed• Scrape down sides of bowl again• Mix in dried ingredients until well mixed. • Add in chocolate chips• Combine until just mixed, fold dough by hand to ensure even distribution of chocolate. • Scoop chocolate chip cookies into half dollar sizes balls and top with reserved chocolate chips. • Bake at 330F for 12-14 minutes• Top each cookie with course sea salt to finish (optional)

From MYRA REILLY, don’t these sound delicious….I’m definitely adding them to my cookie repertoire.


Annette’s words….”these are to die for”!

PAMELLA CAPITANINIItalian Sugar Cookies for Christmas

READY IN: 20mins Yield:2 dozen cookies


* Your choice of sprinkles


  • Firstly, sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl.
  • Then, in a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and add vanilla, then pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix.
  • Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands. Pinch off dough, roll in your hands to form a log and then twirl into shape. Place on greased cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
  • Combine the next 3 ingredients until creamy.
  • Dip cookies into icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire rack with wax paper on counter to collect the dripping icing and sprinkles.


A crisp but chewy butter cookie studded with peppermint candy bits.30 minPREP TIME 1 hrTOTAL TIME 48COOKIES


3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened

1 large Land O Lakes® Egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup crushed mini candy canes or peppermint candies

1/4 cup sugar

How to make

  1. STEP 1Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. STEP 2Combine 3/4 cup sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and peppermint flavoring in bowl; beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; beat at low speed until well mixed. Stir 1/4 cup crushed candy into dough.
  3. STEP 3Stir remaining 1/4 cup crushed candy into 1/4 cup sugar.
  4. STEP 4Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls; roll in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.
  5. STEP 5Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Do not over bake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Tip #1

– To crush candy canes or peppermint candies, place into resealable plastic food bag; smash with rolling pin or bottom of heavy saucepan.

Tip #2

– For a more sparkling affect, mix finely crushed candy canes with coarse grain sugar.

JIM ELLSWORTH AND MARK OLLEY…Cherry Chocolate Nut Cookies

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Bake: 10 min./batchYIELD: 5 dozen.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans


  • 1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  • 2. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

From ELENOR HAWLEY’S recipe box…Elenor has shared several of her delicious recipes for past nenasnotes blog posts. Here are two more.

DAVID SANCHEZ shares childhood memories with his MOM’S CHOCOLATE COOKIE


A few more from the Ivon cookie collection. First from the original Betty Crocker Cookbook…I left the edge of the pages so you can see the age. I haven’t made these many many years but they were always a hit!

Probably the best Linzer cookie…from the original Silver Palate Cookbook…you can, of course, do whatever shape you want but we all need some “loving“ right now so why not hearts!

FRANGO MINT COOKIES….beyond delicious!

• 1 c. Butter, softened

• 1/2 c. Confectioners’ sugar, plus more to coat cookies

• 2 c. cake flour

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1 c. finely chopped pecans

• Frango mints, cut crosswise

Cream butter with sugar. Add flour and vanilla. Add chopped pecans. Chill dough for one hour. Take 1 T. of dough and wrap around frango mint. Bake for 15 min. until light brown, let cool on baking pan for 5 min, then roll in confectioners’ sugar and place on rack to cool completely.

LIZZIES….one of my most favorite cookies….

¼ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups raisins

½ cup bourbon

4 cups pecan halves

3 cups candied cherries (I like more red than green!)

⅓ pound diced candied lemon peel

Soak fruits in bourbon at least 1 hour to plump.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
Cream butter, gradually adding sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients, then fruit and nuts. Mix well.
Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.



“This is the time of year when my favorite drink is : EGG NOG. Sure, you can buy it prepared but it is just as easy to make yourself at home. Here’s how:

12 large eggs

1-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 cups whole milk ( divided)

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

I teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

In a heavy saucepan , whisk together eggs, sugar and salt. Gradually add 4 cups milk;cook and stir over low heat until a thermometer reads 160 degrees, 30- 35 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Transfer right away to a large bowl. Stir in vanilla, nutmeg and remaining milk. Place bowl in ice bath, stirring until mixture is cool. Refrigerate covered until cold at least 3 hours.

To serve, best cream until soft peaks form. Whisk into cooled milk mixture, Sprinkle with grated nutmeg before serving.

Now I love my EGG NOG plain but you can also serve with dark rum or bourbon for a more adult beverage. Cheers and Happy Holidays!”

nenasnotes….I add Captain Morgan’s Gingerbread Rum, beyond delicious! PS I LOVE Egg Nog!

Hopefully next year we can all be together and have an in person Cookie Exchange!!!!



I was asked to interview Sydney Sadick for a Costume Council of The Chicago History Museum event on Tuesday, December 8th (see detailed information at the bottom of this post it is a not to be missed event!) I of course agreed, as you know my loyalties are deep with the organization. To get to know each other we arranged a phone chat last week. I’ll be honest with you I had no idea what to expect, I had read the book, so was a bit prepped for the call. Well all I can say is she had me at Hello! What a charming, delightful, savvy young lady. I immediately wanted to share her with all of you and asked her if she would answer my Profile Questionnaire…she agreed….now you can meet Sydney….enjoy!


I landed an internship at the Daily Front Row, the long-running bible of New York Fashion Week. They quickly submersed me into the fashion industry, sitting front row at NYFW, covering events like the Met Ball, interviewing celebs and designers. It was truly the job to put me on the fashion map and was certainly a great platform.


I’m an on-air fashion and lifestyle expert, regularly hosting fashion segments for shows like the Today Show, E! News, E! Daily Pop, Inside Edition, NBC New York Live, Good Morning Washington, and more. I present fashion trends under $100 as well as commentate on red carpet fashion. Additionally, I host a daily Instagram live show called Lunchtime with Sydney to make people feel less along during the quarantine lunchbreaks (@SydneySadick) where each day I bring on a different guests, like: Tiger King’s Carole Baskin, designer Isaac Mizrahi, artist Ashley Longshore, journalist Mika Brzezinski, actress Jaclyn Smith, shoe mogul Steve Madden, etc. And, I just launched my debut book, Aim High: How to Style Your Life and Achieve Your Goals! Plus, I host weekly Instagram lives on Fridays—a spinoff of LTWS—for the Today Show’s new millennial platform, TMRWxToday.


I noticed my ability to be confident on-camera when I was in high school. I was in our broadcast journalism club, and I fell in love with telling stories. 


I honestly feel like I’m on this ladder that I’m constantly climbing and don’t want to stop climbing. I love challenging myself to do bigger and better things every single year, butappearing on Hoda & Jenna (the Today Show) for the first time definitely changed things.


I’ve always had a love for fashion and telling stories. Every step I’ve taken, starting out from the class I decided to take at Harvard University Summer School as a high school student to a student at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs to my first job out of college as an editor at the Daily Front Row…all of these steps have served as platforms to where I am today.


I’ve always flirted with the idea of being an FBI agent. It’s not fully off my list yet of things I’d like to do at some point.


I have many favorite movies: My Best Friend’s Wedding, Pretty Woman, Serendipity, The Holiday. I listen to a lot of dance/house music, like Galantis. It basically sounds like a dance party wherever I go. I must admit I loved the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I enjoy every single show on Broadway, and I really do miss going because I used to go so much pre-Covid, but I particularly loved Tootsie!


I’ve played the piano since I was 5. I love playing tennis. Traveling was a huge part of my life pre-covid. I also like to knit. 


My city home is very traditional, old-school sort of New York. I’ve currently been spending lots of time in my family’s Hamptons home which is modern. I would say I’m more modern and when it becomes more realistic to lie full-time in Manhattan again, I would like to transition to a more modern aesthetic. 


Me, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Obama, Miss Piggy, Ryan Seacrest, Wolf Blitzer, Dolly Parton, Bradley Cooper, Oscar de la Renta, John Mayor, Amal Clooney, and Jamie Foxx. I would have Cipriani cater a luncheon comprised of all of their delicious pastas, Bellini’s, their cucumber, corn, and tomato salad, the beet, goat cheese, and asparagus salad,  and their famous meringue cake with cappaucinos and espresso 


I regularly travel to London and Paris for getaways with my family. I love all of the restaurants, shopping, the museums, culture. Dubai is probably my favorite place I’ve ever been to. It’s so futuristic and exciting. Palm Beach is where I spend most of my free time. My family has had a home there since I was born and it’s like a second home. I love dining at classics like Café L’Europe and Renato’s, shopping on Worth Avenue and just lounging at the pool at our home.


These days, talking to my friends over Facetime. I really miss being out and about and just living life, going to fun places. I’m also currently enjoying Schitt’s Creek and watching fun holiday movies. 


Anything Warhol!


I first and foremost want to be remembered as someone who was always kind and treated everyone with respect. Aside from that, I want to be known as the best in my field, for breaking boundaries in media and fashion and paving the way for future generations to go after their dreams in these fields too. And eventually, being a great wife and mom, but that’s far out. Ha!


I’m like Carrie Bradshaw, sorry, I don’t cook! But my mom is an incredible cook—it skips generations in our family—and seriously should be a chef. I love her sweet and sour meatballs with plum jam over buttered noodles, her mini chocolate cheesecake cupcakes, and her amazing Thanksgiving dinner!


Want more of Sydney….register for the December 8th Costume Council event, yours truly will be in conversation with Sydney.



I wanted to do a Holiday Cookie Exchange Party this year…so much for best laid plans/thoughts…that, obviously, won’t be happening. Next best thing…asking my friends to share their favorites. I’ve profiled or shared articles on everyone participating. I’m posting early enough so you will have time to bake some classics and perhaps add some new recipes to your annual celebrations. I’m posting the recipes as they have been sent to me, on cards, typed, some with photos, etc. I am getting so many great recipes I will post PART 2 next week….stay tuned!

Every year from my first childhood memories to Ruthy joining Daddy with the angels (I’m sure they are busy making all our traditional favorites….both were superb cooks and Ruthy, in particular, loved to bake and was perfection in the kitchen!). We would add to our list each year and often made 40-50 different kinds, you read that correctly, all were shared with relatives, friends and later, co-workers. I fondly remember sitting on the floor surrounded by cookie tins with Ruthy making several huge trays to take to her staff at Saks Fifth Avenue, Old Orchard and later at Marshall Field’s, State Street. (FYI she followed me into retail after Daddy died, she was a stay at home Mom doing lots of volunteer work, and lots and lots of baking and cooking!) Again, as long as I can remember, we hosted a Christmas Open House on Christmas Eve, in addition to a mega buffet there were trays of our cookies. And, of course, take home tins!

Greg Hyder and Jim Smith cookie table for tree trim party three years ago…party covered in a nenasnotes blog post.

I’m kicking off the recipes with what is my all time favorite…Russian Tea Cakes featured in the original Betty Crocker Cookbook, the go to cookbook in the Ivon cookbook collection….I haven’t counted my cookbooks but at least a hundred or so…I’ve given many away over the years. I happen to love reading cookbooks!


I add more powered sugar…FYI these keep beautifully…not too long, I devour them quite quickly!!!!

MIKE HINES….MOLASSES COOKIES….warm and cozy soft and chewy!

JACK McCORDCOUSIN ELCY’S BOURBON BALLS. “nenas note…I didn’t ask for a story behind the cookie….but love this and must share it.”

“Cousin Elcy always came for Thanksgiving and Christmas, from Decatur to Springfield. She and my father, second cousins, had been close since childhood. A bit older than Dad, she retired from Decatur to a stylish new building on North Lake Shore Drive. I think of her every time I pass it now.
Elcy was a good cook and had grown up with and loved good food. After we pushed ourselves away from the holiday dinner table, she could often be found in the kitchen picking at the delicious bits on the turkey carcass. And perhaps another piece of pie? All the while, I was prodded to play Christmas carols on the piano.
We loved it when Elcy came to visit – she was animated, up on current events, mildly opinionated and took interest in what we school kids were doing. She and Dad talked a lot.
She also brought cookies – in ribboned Fannie Mae boxes she had saved and lined in foil. There must have been eight or ten kinds, all lined up in rows. This is one of them……”

RANA LEE…SUGAR SAUCERS (from Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple by David Muniz, David Lesniak and Rachel Allen)

  • 4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil
  • 1 cup (225g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • rainbow sprinkles, for decorating

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about a minute. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the oil, and then add the two sugars, the eggs, and the vanilla. Make sure to stir well after each of the additions. Slowly add the flour mixture, about a quarter at a time. Mix just until the flour disappears. The dough will be soft. Refrigerate for at least an hour before proceeding (up to 3 days).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or up to a 5 oz scoop), divide the dough into balls. Roll each ball in rainbow sprinkles until thoroughly coated. Place them on baking sheets with enough room for them to spread (if you are making giant cookies you will probably only get 4 per sheet). Use your fingers to flatten each ball slightly.

Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on the size. Bake until the edges start to turn golden. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

ROBERT NEUBERT….CHOCOLATE CHUBBIES (the ultimate chocolate cookie – a dessert in itself)

Yields: 36 cookies

8 ounces semisweet chocolate3 ounces unsweetened chocolate4 ounces sweet butter3 large eggs1.1/4 cup sugar2 teaspoons vanilla extract1.1/2 ounces cocoa powder2/3 cup all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1.1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips2 cups toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 3 cookie sheets or bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Melt chocolate squares with butter in a double boiler over simmering water. Cool to room temperature. Beat eggs with sugar in a large bowl until ribbons form when beater is lifted. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir into chocolate mixture. Add pecans and chocolate chips. Do not over mix. 2 ounce scoops for large cookies – bake 12 minutes3/4 ounce scoops for small cookies – bake 8 minutes Drop cookies on to cookie sheet setting 2 inches apart. Bake until barely firm, with tops just slightly cracked. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.


I’ve written several pieces about and with Jeffrey’s input the latest was his Tartanware Collection….here his Scottie cookie jar and his shortbread. I am obsessed with shortbread…..
• 2 cups butter, softened
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• Preheat oven to 325°. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add 3-3/4 cups flour; mix well.
Chill shortbread dough for at least 20-30 minutes ,
Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead for 5 minutes, adding enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut into 3×1-in. strips. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased
baking sheets
. Prick with fork
(This is very important )
Bake until cookies are Bake until cookies are lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Cool.


First Layer

½ cup butter

¼ cup sugar

5 TBSP Cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg beaten

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs

¾ cup coconut

½ cup chopped nuts

In the top of a double boiler melt ½ cup butter, add sugar, cocoa, vanilla and beaten egg to melted butter. Cook for 5 minutes remove from heat. Add cracker crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press lightly into greased 9×9 baking pan and refrigerate

Second Layer

¼ cup butter

2 TBSP milk or cream

2 TBSP dry instant vanilla pudding

2 cups powdered sugar

Cream ¼ cup butter, add dry pudding, powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Spread over crumb mixture and chill.

Third Layer

¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

2 TBSP butter

Melt chocolate with 2 TBSP butter cool and spread overcreamed mixture. Chill again. Cut into small squares before completely firm so chocolate does not crumble

MARCELLAS REYNOLDS…Yummy Sugar Cookies, Quick, Fast, and…In a Hurry

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup of sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Powdered sugar for rolling out the dough

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until the mixture pulls away from the bowl’s side. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for two hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove one wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If the dough has warmed during rolling, place a cold cookie sheet on top for ten minutes to chill. Cut into the desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve nude or slather with icing or FROSTING as desired.* Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*I prefer frosting over icing! But I don’t like food coloring at all.


Has shared three favorites from her recipe box. FYI Barbara shares her excellent baking skills with many potluck events and cookie exchanges.


6 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups flour

1 egg

Filling can be apricot, raspberry or strawberry preserves, or a nut mixture..Mix together cream cheese, butter and egg and flour. Form into a ball, place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours or more. Roll out cold ball of dough on a board dusted with flour, until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into circles. Top each circle with teaspoon of filling. Fold over sides to middle and pinch closed. Bake in 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool, then dust with powdered sugar.


1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup (two sticks)cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1 teaspoon almond extract

Zest of one orange

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (optional)

If desired, use additional sugar to coat cookies before baking. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use silicone sheet.

Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup of the sugar in food processor and process until cranberries are broken down into smaller pieces, set aside. Combine remainder of the sugar and the flour in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the cold cubes of butter, for very fine crumbs. Stir in the almond extract, cranberries and sugar mixture, orange zest (and orange juice if using). Knead the dough with your hands until it comes together and forms a ball. Shape the ball into a log, about two inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or more.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut cold cookie log into 1/4 inch slices. You can coat the slices with granulated sugar if desired. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Do not overbake. Makes about 21/2 dozen cookies.


If you throw up your hands at baking Holiday Cookies, I would suggest you check out my new food obsession TATE’s Bake Shop Gingersnap Cookies…they are beyond delicious, additive and seasonal. What makes them special, bits of candied ginger! To die for. This is not a sponsored post just wanted to share with you. Local stores carry their chocolate chip cookies, which are delicious as well, check and see if you can find them. Or go to

Start baking and/or eating…do share your favorites so I can do a Part 3!


I have recently become totally obsessed with botanical prints. I love them for so many reasons, such as the incredible detail, the vast variety, the decorating possibilities and on and on… I wanted to share not only a very small sampling of various themes, but also a few examples of how to work them into your decorating. Some of the photos are mine others have been Pinterest sourced, I’ll identify my photos the rest are Pinterest photo credit unknown.

In doing my research, I had to, of course, include the Audubon series which featured the worlds most expensive book. Lucky us that facsimiles are available to us, many many books on Audubon and you can visit his charming home in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania as well as the informative www.audubon.orgsite. The following is taken from the site.

“Audubon’s place in history was assured by the way in which he forever changed how birds were illustrated. While replicating physical features with uncanny veracity, he incorporated narrative elements and aesthetic touches that not only made birds come alive in their natural environments, but also lifted the images to the status of fine art.

His famous Birds of America stands out as Audubon’s crowning achievement. These 453 life-sized paintings of north American birds were remarkable for their accuracy of color and realism. After the publication of Birds of America, Audubon issued a highly successful, smaller 7-volume octavo edition. He also compiled an important work documenting mammals; The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. That collection comprised 150 hand-colored lithographs in 3 volumes.

In addition to his artistic talents, Audubon was a prolific writer. His journals and Bird Biographies documented his observations of the land that he traveled during the first half of the 19th century, as well as the people of the emerging American nation.”

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

Since we are headers into the dead of winter….here is a bit of Spring. We can either wait for our forced bulbs to bloom inside or push their heads up through the ground in a few months or we can enjoy their beauty all year round with a botanical!

One of my all time favorites is Pierre-Joseph Redouté, “who was a painter and botanist from Belgium, known for his watercolours of roses, lilies and other flowers at Malmaison. He was nicknamed “the Raphael of flowers” and has been called the greatest botanical illustrator of all time”. Cited….Wikipedia

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

My apologies for the glare and my elbow, but I wanted to share this with you. Eight vintage Redoute prints hung on Ralph Lauren rose patterned wallpaper (also the duvet) in a guest bedroom in a Harbor Country estate. Love the impact of the symmetry of the rose prints against the coordinating wallpaper,

While doing research for this post I found one of the first and highly regarded botanical print illustrators was a woman (as were her daughters!), “Maria Sibylla Merian, also known as Anna Maria Sibylla, (born April 2, 1647, Frankfurt am Main [Germany]—died January 13, 1717, Amsterdam, Netherlands), German-born naturalist and nature artist known for her illustrations of insects and plants. Her works on insect development and the transformation of insects through the process of metamorphosis contributed to the advance of entomology in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.” From the Encyclopedia Britannica website.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

Butterfly prints en masse. Image from Pinterest.

I have found many superb examples of this extraordinary art form at the Randolph Street Market in many of the diverse vendor collections and make it a point to pour over the amazing pieces in PAPER PATTY’S Booth, it was always my first stop at the monthly RSM, which is currently on hiatus. My photos are all from Patty’s vast collection all incredibly priced. She loves to tell the story behind each of her treasures….but that is true of every vendor at the wonderland of curiosities that is RSM!

Here are a couple from her fern grouping, the first from my art collection…I have kept it unframed and next to my desk so I can enjoy it while working.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

Bird nests… mad for all the detail, but quite frankly that is what botanicals are all about.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

Then, of course, some birds….these three images found on Pinterest.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

The next three taken by me.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

For some unknown reason, at the moment, owls are appealing to me whether a botanical or photograph, you might check my Pinterest owl board, who knew there were so many different owls in the world, not me, for sure. Absolutely fascinating. The images below mine from PAPER PATTY’S.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market
Botanicals Randolph Street Market

Make a wall an inspiration board, easy to change as the mood suits you.

Botanicals Randolph Street Market

More inspiration…I might also suggest using inexpensive botanicals as gift wrap tied with twine or use to decoupage boxes or a piece of furniture like I did….but that is a story I’ll save for another time!!

Collecting botanical prints can be narrowed down to one subject or perhaps many…I would suggest you group your collections by category or color or theme…oh why not just play with your treasures. As always I have included some book suggestions. My best advice when starting or adding to your collections buy what you like and buy it when you see it. Let’s not ever have buyers remorse! Enjoy the journey…

Botanicals Randolph Street Market

All photos unless otherwise noted from Pinterest credits unknown.