95107314-4DDC-450D-B57F-FEE0BF43A45D.jpegA print found at Randolph Street Market in Paper Patty’s booth. (My photo)

Audubon book found in the NOV booth at Randolph Street Market open to two pages.  (My photo)

I don’t know about you but I am so ready for Spring, although it hasn’t been the worse Winter I have gone though. Yesterday I actually saw a “haze” on some trees which indicated, to me, a glimpse of the future, buds!  And Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend…another harbinger of Spring!!!  Living in an major urban environment I don’t see many bird varieties, mostly dear little sparrows, pigeons, of course, and, at the moment, four huge crows or are they blackbirds or ravens, sorry I’m not an ornithologist, whatever they are they are gorgeous but extrembly vocal!

6DA49802-C0CF-415E-91AC-7B853E042251A beautiful sleek American Robin, I do see them occasionally. Image from Pinterest credit unknown.37B0A860-6BEB-4280-9E02-8E57395EB64E.jpegA basket of Robin’s eggs photo found on Pinterest credit unknown.

C9A4EE8E-ED8D-4BC6-9D3D-C2F5C7D761B1A charming watercolor (one of two) of an English Robin given to me by a dear English friend who is no longer with us….I have it close to where I can constantly see it to remind me of her and our weekly Sunday chats!  I found the hand carved destressed white wood frame at RSM and feel it compliments it perfectly.  I love the difference between our Robins…ours sleek and their British cousins, short and stout!!!!  I love both.  (My photo)

More nests, 1870’s English prints, from Paper Patty’s extensive collection you can find her on the Balcony of Plumbers Hall at the next RSM on March 24 and 25  (Also my photos).

1860’s Italian lithographs from Paper Patty’s vast collections of birds and many, many other images  (My photos).

9106E498-4FDC-431B-9BA8-9A6605D87E53.jpegOne of my vignettes, I try to group like items together, here you see several variations on the bird theme, a book of poems given to me by another dear friend, two already framed pictures…the larger a lithograph print with metal frame, the small round carved wooden Italian frame surrounding a delightful miniature watercolor of a bird’s nest.  The concrete bird is the lone element left from my Evanston garden (and Mom’s over two hundred English roses plus other cutting flowers!) part of the birdbath shell with a cherub (which now reside in a friend’s country estate).  I used one of my iPhone filters to distress the image, I think makes it a bit moody!

Speaking of pigeons, and these most certainly are not the ones on the streets of Chicago…….here are two amazing lithographs from a new friend I follow on Instagram who has kindly let me share these with you.  You can follow at cpgoodrich  on Instagram  I think what I like most about Social Media is how you can make new friends virtually.  Everyone I have contacted to share images and more with me for nenasnotes, has been so willing to do so.  It, to my minds eye, makes my posts a bit more personal, hope you agree. C884ED91-00E2-4FBE-8A2D-7CCB8038E295More from Cary, this time glorious hummingbirds.


296F4747-E8F6-4204-BE21-6204884A13BFSilver plated Woodcock mounted on a wooden disk.


A vintage needlepoint piece.


Charming wooden bird and it’s little house (I’ll do a post on birdhouses in the future.)

The above 4 images are of items at Council Oak Antiques in South Bend, Indiana. Pat is always so generous in accommodating my wacky requests. Again, we are Instagram ”friends” you can find her posts at patricia_mcmahan_smith and I am so excited to finally meet her in person this weekend.  I’ve been to the store and the selections are beyond fabulous. I’ll be like a kid in a candy store.  I can’t begin to imagine what material I will find for upcoming posts!

A couple of books….there are hundreds, that I found appealing…


Of course, I couldn’t do a post without a bit of fashion…how about a vintage 1960’s Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture…what makes this even more special to me is when I visited the Lasage Atelier in Paris I held the sample for the embroidery, an incredible experience.




I have been looking forward to reading this book, I do like Lauren Willig’s Books. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I don’t think it was what it turned out to be…a mystery, yes…a love story or two, yes…family secrets, definitely yes….a telling of The Golden Age, a bit…but more a story of lost trust, betrayal, upholding tradition. I found it to be more Daphne Du Maurier than I was expecting.

The book opens with a Twelfth Nignt Ball (why is it called the Twelth Night Ball, you will find out) being held at Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil’s Hudson estate. Bay is found dying, with a jeweled dagger in his chest, by his spinster sister, Janie and divorced cousin, Anne…Annabelle is nowhere to be found, although Janie insists she saw her “under the ice of the river”. The last words Janie thinks she hears from her beloved brother is “George”. Who is George??!!  The headlines scream “Knickerbocker Murders Wife and Kills Himself! Murder and Suicide on the Hudson!”  Those are the first 10 pages!

We switch years and locations throughout the book and find ourselves in London where Bay and Annabelle meet, we learn both their back stories and how their “friendship” progresses and how they come to the States (no spoilers from me). We also learn about Janie, her domineering mother and her cousin Anne (what is her relationship with her cousin, Bay?!). Is Annabelle who she says she is…you will find out. Why is she terrified of Giles Lacey.  Who is Georgie?

Janie can not bring herself to believe Bay is a murderer nor that Annabelle is having an affair with the architect of their new home and sets out to find the truth and enlists the help of a reporter, Burke, and so the adventure begins. Secrets are uncovered, Mother Van Duyvil’s domination of the household tightens, the Coroner’s Inquest brings many of the loose ends together but there is much more to be discovered.  Families are torn apart, unspoken liaisons are exposed, and the murderer revealed (again, no spoilers, but a surprise to me).

Okay, did I like the book….let’s say I didn’t dislike it. You, by now, know I don’t do negative reviews. The writing is tight, as mentioned, I am a fan of Lauren Willig, it held my interest, the story interesting (I usually don’t like different time periods but these were tight enough not to bother me…we aren’t doing “time travel” here!) I guess I just didn’t care about the characters. I expected more about the people of The Golden Age, yes, of course, they are discussed…the class differences both in England and the States, the manners, etc.  I would like to have had more. I wondered about the several different directions the plot took…but think, in the end, all was resolved. In the near future I’m participating in an on-line book club discussion and I’ll let you know if I learn anything new. Would I recommend you read it, yes if you like a book with interesting plot twists, a protagonist who doggedly pursues her goals and ends up being the strong woman we know she will become, some predictable events others not so much. Will it hold your interest I think so. Let me know your thoughts.



I have been waiting forever for someone to write a monograph on Norman Norell, well it is finally here and the book is beyond brilliant!!!!  Jeffrey Banks, who obviously, is not only in awe of this extraordinary designer and individual, but also recognizes the important contributions Norell made to the world of fashion, has written the perfect salute to one of the best fashion designers ever!


Jeffrey Banks at the opening of the Norell retrospective exhibition at FIT which he guest curated

The cover, pretty much says it all (not quite you need to read every word and look at each photo and drawing….many by the extraordinarily talented Michael Vollbracht, (lucky me, I worked with Michael on several occasions as well as having had the privilege of doing many shows with Mr. Norell, huge regret that I did not have the experience of working with Jeffrey Banks but we have become friends on Facebook and I have many of his other books in my fashion library.) Putting red on a redhead, the incomparable Suzy Parker in a 1952 photograph by Milton Greene, was very forward for the time, and here she is in one of Norell signature all over sequin gowns and enveloped in a cage of red tulle….glorious glamour.


One of Vollbracht’s immaculate drawings of an iconic mermaid gown

NORELL Master of American Fashion opens with an outstanding forward by Ralph Rucci and then broken down into brilliant chapters such as The Clothes, The History, The Leading Ladies and The Legacy, etc. The Afterword, Collecting Norell is by Kenneth Pool the renowned collector of Norell.  The end papers are closeups of the handsewn sequins. So many incredible photos, one of my favorites is on page 26 which is described as “Norell’s smart theater suit” (don’t we wish everyone dressed up when going to dinner, the theater or at all!!!) it is a camel hair jacket lined in gold pailettes over a gold pailetted dress….stunningly beautiful. You have to hold your breath as you turn each page when you discover yet another miracle of design.


The sailor dress a look you saw in some form or another in most of Norell’s collections.


The iconic Life Magazine photo of Mr. Norell with his four models in mermaid gowns

Pass go and go directly to your nearest independent bookseller and get this book it is one of THE best ever…I’m afraid mine will become tattered from all the use it will get, we won’t even discuss the drolling over the images and tears of remembrance of days gone by but that can be relived in Jeffrey’s perfect book and also know that if we have a Norell in our wardrobe (I still live in hope all these years later…..) that it will never go out of style  NORMAN NORELL lives on!

May I direct you to my blog post on Norman Norell from November 11, 2016 Norman Norell


Sorry I’ve been gone for a bit…having major tech problems (once again), this time everything failed me…my laptop browser, where I do nenasnotes, no longer wishes to accept my program (no I’m not going to tell you how old it is, you would faint!!!!!). Obviously means a new one, I am now deciding between a lap top or a desk top. Stunned at the prices!!! Then my email wasn’t working on my phone nor my iPad for three days…tried everything then magically it returned….email grinches for sure. But more importantly, my dears, I couldn’t upload, download,”side load”, whatever load ANY photos onto my posts, (and you know I am obsessed with photos) they went directly to “publish” and wouldn’t appear in the body of my posts…okay, bored yet, well there is more!!!! I really, really, really love working with WordPress and the Happiness Engineers (don’t you love it!!!!) have always helped me when I can’t figure something out on my own. The same three wasted days with email, computer, etc. were further wasted with back and forth questions and answers (I was told how to post, I’ve been posting for a year and a half, I know how to post)….finally I was told the feature I have always used isn’t “at the moment” available…by now I was more than frustrated and decided to take a “timeout” from WP. Not great since I had just posted the first in my Fall 2018 Fashion Trend reports, I will get back to them shortly, I promise! I was visiting My Toms in Blue Island and mentioned, well more than mentioned, my dilemma and in mere minutes the problem was solved. At least I hope so. I’m doing this on my iPad, a first…here we go.

Edith Sitwell

Let’s use this post on a book I have wanted to share with you as a test, shall we!

I thought this would be a perfect book to supplement the upcoming Fall Fashion Season, I wasn’t disappointed, in fact it went way beyond my expectations. I found it to be a perfect addition to my fashion book library as well as give me insight into 50 authors and what they wear and how clothes appear in their writings. There are chapters on items of clothing such as Hats and Suits. These literary icons, most I have read, some I haven’t, were inspirational, funny, dramatic, spot on in the times they lived in and/or wrote about.

There are quotes from the incredible Dorothy Parker, no one better with quips, the wisdom of Maya Angelou, the depth of Zadie Smith, the man before his time Oscar Wilde, the sadness but beauty of Virginia Woolf, the chroniclers of their time F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and on and on. There are those whose personal style defined them, let’s think Tom Wolff and his white suits, Quentin Crisp with his “dressing up skills”, Colette with her fabulous personal style of self and in her writing…..the list goes on and on.

. Oscar Wilde

. Virginia Woolf

. Truman Capote

All photos from Pinterest. Continue reading


image_539470344904957The glitz of a Chanel shoe pared with a ombre tweed jacket from Lafayette 148 New York.

image_53947051014348This has always been my motto in my wardrobe choices and when I assist others in planning and updating their closets and refreshing their hair and make-up.

It was time for my own refresh…..I’m not changing my signature base of black top and either a black pant or skirt and an occasional dress.  I am looking at a new make-up, a shorter hair-cut and new jackets and shoes, ah yes, shoes!!!! I am so tired of hearing all the convesations that one can or can’t wear this or that after a “certain age” whatever that means!  Let’s take a look at Iris Arfel, Tziporah Salamon or the ladies (and gentlemen, you can use a refresh as well you know!!!!) in Ari Seth Cohen’s books Advnced Style and Advaned Style: Older and Wiser.  Seriously, enjoy the fun, excitement and ease of being yourself.  Are there restrictions to what we can and can’t do, perhaps physically, but not our sense of who we are and what we wear.  Mini skirts should be left to those who have great legs no matter what the age, leggings never did get them unless worn under a skirt or with a shoe boot or boot or at the gym,. but not as a pant!

Now some pointers on how to shop….

  • Get a personal wardrobe stylist (perhaps me!) or a sales associate at your favorite store….Personal shoppers will take care of more than your wardrobe, they become your PA’s
  • Nothing wrong with shopping on sale, just be sure what you fall head and heels over works with what you have in your closet…adding items that can’t work, unless you are doing a whole new wardrobe (don’t we wish!!!!) isn’t smart at all
  • Think of adding one new trend or color a season
  • Adding a new shoe, handbag, piece of jewelry, sunglasses, scarf can make all the diffenence in your established wardrobe
  • A top notch alteration person/tailor can make your existing wardrobe look new and be able to make that little adjustment on your skirt or pant length taking it from dowdy (and who wants to look dowdy or dated!) to fab
  • A refreshed make-up….go to any store to any make-up counter and find a new look not only fun but empowering, we all love a new color lipstick and often need the new eyes of a trained make-up artist to give us the updated look along with technique tips
  • A new hairstyle and perhaps a fresh color, both will make you feel and look a million% better

Are you ready for my journey for a New Year New Nena….well here we go….. First up I made a long overdue (my hair grows very fast and I find it loses it shape quickly, I really need to get it cut every 4-5 weeks, hadn’t been in ages, bad Nena!) appointment with Daniel Paterno at Workshop Daniel Salon 

image_539470118295115Arrival with Danielimage_539470198059126Pondering the look…..cut it off Daniel!!!!

image_539470228711568Some of the old look on the floor…..image_539470285650732Much better, don’t you agree…..

A few days later I arrive at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago to do my make-up with Armenia Vasquez, the Chanel Business Manager, she is a delight to work with, please check with her, the Chanel Beauty boutique has so many wonderful upcoming events for you to enjoy.image_539469959312981image_539469972631423image_539469951591516image_539470009801908The Spring Chanel palette Armenia used on me (she had Googled me to plan ahead the look she thought would be best and she was spot on! Smart lady!)image_539469935890495image_53946955686051The Chanel special blush formed like a Chanel tweed….amazing!

image_539469569565254I love make-up charts, this is mine (wish I looked like the sketch…one lives in hope)…she did a green liner on top of a smoky dark grey liner above the lash and in the waterline under the top lash.  I usually do a nude on the lower waterline.  A blend of a couple of lipsticks for a softer red than I have been using…like it alot.  She kept my smoky eye and added a bit of blush, which I usually only do for evening, I also intensify my eye  for evening.  I liked the addition of the green, having green eyes they change from green to blue to hazel but the green brought out the green perfectly.  Luckily I have a lot of lid and it does like color… brows are in the process of growing in but must be groomed, they are wild otherwise and one can’t have wild eyebrows…oh my! I find having my make-up done, in fact any personal service, so relaxing and rewarding to take away not only a new and refreshed look but a new tip or two on application and/or color.

Next up wardrobe….I had been in the week before to review my picks for the photo shoot…image_539470450808004The initial pull…a couple of the pieces were sold (that is the idea!!!!) so you won’t see them in the actual photos.  I also took a couple of photos of the jackets with my shoe selection…one of which is at the top of this post…here is anotherimage_539470365977791I am obsessed with this Chanel tweed “sneaker” can you even stand the pearl detail, oh my.  The 10022 Shoe department at Saks Chicago is beyond amazing I wanted everything I saw but did contain myself with ones I wanted to share with you.

image_53946990359299When I got to the Fifth Avenue Club Bryant Keith Von Woodson II was ready for me with the garments pulled (we took a couple of minutes to pull more shoes) and was all set to photograph the “try-on” portion of the refresh.  He is always spot on with own trendsetting look as you can see reflected in the mirror.  New York City you had better get ready because as soon as he graduates from Columbia College Chicago in May he is planning on taking the Big Apple by storm….just saying!

image_539469878207016image_539470409428505Let me show you my favorite look of all, this incredible print jacket by Etro…love everything they do, but this mix of color and pattern is superb and would be the one piece to add to my wardrobe.  My closet is seasonless (a few hot weather pieces thrown in but mostly year round clothes…drop the turtleneck for a black shell or cammy for those hot summer days).  I am wearing my own new gold triple hoop drop earring a bargain found at the last Randolph Street Market, the next one is Satuday and Sunday, February 24 and 25 from 10 to 5.  I would wear a black pump with this to complete the outfit.image_53946974658994image_539470497905241Two of the trends I followed in the Spring 2018 shows I covered in nenasnotes, Crome yellow and a bold abstract print.  The jacket is from Lafayette 148 New York and the charming black lace trim print top from Kobi Halperin, one of my new favorite designers.  Can’t wait to see what will show us for Fall 2018 in New York Fashion Week shows beginning this week.  I’m suggesting a high heel black suede sling from Manolo Blanik.  The jewelry featured is from my own collection of jet necklaces, you can be sure there will be a feature on jet in the near future.image_539469805633221Love this Lafayette 148 New York jacket in an ombre black and white tweed but perhaps too similar to pieces I already own.  But it is a stunning classic that can be worn forever! Hum, I wonder and with that Chanel shoe…….image_539469795004381Another trend that I followed through all four major markets for Spring 2018, stripes, here on an Akris jacket accented with stripes that look like a bar code and a triangular detail of metallic.  The shoe, picking up another trend polka dots, Chanel’s clear and black patent with pearl dots…love!image_53946959308132All shades of pink were on the catwalks for Spring, this classic blazer from Oscar de la Renta, many items in my established wardrobe are OdlR.  I’m holding a slide, I don’t usually like them because I tend to walk out of them but found this one a delight in a charming rose print from Gucci.image_53946982600754image_539469757423854Every designer I ever worked with wanted me to wear red, not my color of choice but this one might be the exception.  Again from Oscar de la Renta and I’m showing you two shoe choices, both from GUCCI, the floral applique leather stiletto or the carnation embroidered flat. The pin on the jacket from my Bakelite collectiion also from a visit to the Randolph Street Market.image_539469855247259image_539558973934025For some unknown reason this looks architectural to me….like a pointilist painting of a skyline, vivid imagination, I know!  It is from the Akris Punto spring collection. The shoe I have chosen is from Ferragamo and is black patent with a sculptured gold heel, yum!

Well there you have it some of my picks for an updated look for Spring 2018 and beyond.  I will be covering the Fall 2018 month of the four major fashion markets starting this Friday…let’s hope I reign myself in this season and not do daily posts…we shall see, Fall Colelctions are my favorites!

Just a note, none of the vendors mentioned, including Saks Fifth Avenue, have compensated me in any way for this post.  All are my opinions and my photos via Bryant!



imageNancy Plummer
I really love doing Profiles on my talented friends who I have met through teaching, you can check out several in the archives.  Today’s post is on Nancy Plummer, a very talented woman who truly enjoys, and is very good at it, sharing her passion for helping her clients look their best.  Her background is retail as well as teaching a perfect combination for her business.
Nancy and I have been friends since 2001 and although we don’t see each other as often as we would like we fall back into a common love of our industry and its strengths and challenges, usually over a glass or two of wine and a nibbly bit!  Nancy is a whiz at technology, over the years I have learned a lot from her.  Let’s learn a bit more about her, shall we…..
I asked Nancy how we met……
“I believe it was one of the many fashion events when I was teaching at AI and Program Chair at IADT. I do have communication from you on speaking at several of my events and at school since 2009. You did speak in November of 2010 – topic was NENA’S FIFTY YEARS OF FASHION. Remember that? You also was my guest speaker at one of my successful style events at the Center on Halsted. You were a guest speaker, and that was October of 2009. I was active as Program Chair from 2007-2010.
No, we met when I was at Neiman Marcus 2001-2003!”


It has to be when I was a member of the Swinging Needles 4-H Club in Huntsburg, Ohio. I received numerous awards for my sewing. I made aprons, potholders, sundresses, etc. My Mother, seamstress extraordinaire, was also the leader of the club.


February 11, 2009. My book, Your Personal Style was published and released by Fairchild publications. All the learnings I had received throughout my career was now written down for me to pass on to others. It’s not only educational but a beautiful keepsake. It has been used in over 30 colleges across the United States.



I began my business, Fine Threads, sewing for professional women. These women believed in me and pushed me to continue their style journey. So, I went inside their closets and took them shopping. At the time, I didn’t know what it was called, but quickly learned it was image consulting. I was introduced to the organization The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) where I honed my craft.



I would be a college professor. I really liked teaching others, and so I went back to college to get my Masters Degree in Training & Development. I wanted to not only teach others but to plan the curriculums and organize the training. I became a Program Chair for the Fashion Department at IADT (no longer in existence), yet still, teach and train plenty of individuals and groups.

imageNancy working with clients, here a classic trench, one of the Spring 2018 trends.

imageAppearing on Windy City Live


I have 3 favorite books! 1) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 2) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and 3) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant


Pretty Woman


Alvin Ailey Dancers, the plays Wicked and Hamilton, Music from The East Village Opera Company, Adele, Sam Smith, and John Legend




Reading, writing, Bikram Yoga, bike riding, walking along the Lakefront (or any body of water – ocean perhaps!), Sunday Church-Brunch-Movie, sewing (especially fabric stores), and live music concerts, and hearing great speakers on a variety of topics.


Unique Modern Furniture like West Elm and Anthropologie Home


Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Denzel Washington, Sandra Bullock, Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen, Byron Lars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.

I would serve an Ethiopian, Mediterranean buffet from Chef Marcus Samuelsson

imageMarcus Samuelsson…. Nena’s note, I visited his restaurant Aquavit many years ago…must do Red Rooster in Harlem, New York on my next visit.  Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.


Martha’s Vineyard and would love to visit Paris, France


BLVD in the Fulton Market area of Chicago. I’m excited to check out the “old Hollywood glamour and glitz” and of course the food.

imageBLVD, I want to go too….really glam!  Photo from Pinterest credit not available.


Anything from Chicago artist Sam Kirk

imageSam Kirk and a portion of a mural.  Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.


Kind, creative, and a unique blessing to mankind!


Arroz Con Pollo from my Mother. Ingredients include white rice, chicken, green olives, tomato sauce, celery, thyme, green peppers, salt, garlic, black pepper, vegetable oil, onion,  Add 2 cups of water. Bake at 350 until rice is cooked. Nena’s Note.…there are zillions of recipes online with photos…I went to the Williams Sonoma website for the recipe…..Arroz Con Pollo Williams Sonoma



website:,“Let us guide you in developing a style that’s uniquely your own.” 

Pinterest nancy-plummer3, Twitter @nplumm, Facebook @FineThreadsStyle

Your Personal Style 


Man Repeller, Sartorialist, Advanced Style, Atelier Dore, A Cup of Jo, Cupcakes and Cashmere



imageWhen these two gentlemen greet you at the door of Casa Hyder/Smith you know you are in for a great time, their annual Christmas Tree Trimming Party was not an exception.  I have been after Greg Hyder since I began nenasnotes to join me with his stories, all of a sudden he became shy and kept putting me off.  I finally said, “you are off the hook”!  A sigh of relief from him and then he thought better of it and said: “how about coming to our Tree Trimming Party and documenting it!”  Why not indeed! I have known Greg for years and Jim for just about as long.  I worked with Greg when I was still at Saks and he was always very generous with chefs from The Peninsula Chicago, where he is Director of Style and Community Relations, when I had events that featured the top chefs in Chicago, in addition he never said no to door prizes for special shows and events.  We have had many too many glasses of wine together, obviously both our sign of a good friendship!  Silly us!!!

Well, all I can say is when someone tells you they are obsessed with something believe them!  There isn’t a square inch of their exquisite home that isn’t decorated to the nines.  It is extraordinary, to say the least.  Let me take you through it, at least a little bit of it.  The scale is something else.  The tree is gigantic, I have no idea how they got it up three flights of stairs.

imagePicking out the perfect tree at Gethsemane Garden Center

imageLights on and the ornament placement begins….each area of the tree has its own themed ornaments, let’s look at some of them, there are hundreds!  Many collected on their trips and many are family traditions.


imageimageimageimageAnd, of course, a Cubs section!!!!  Our hosts are avid Cubs fans!

imageSome baubles were held aside for the party guests, remember the theme of the day was a tree trimming party!!!!  We were told if their placement didn’t meet with Mr. Hyder’s approval off they would come (after the party!)  Pictured are Tim Emond, Becca Smith (Jim’s daughter), Julie Machmon and Jean Antoniou.

On to the Santas….


The custom-made Cubs Santa next to the fireplace….glorious!!!!


imageimageimageimageimageThe crystal chandelier is festooned with red ribbon and the bobeche are filled with cranberries rather than drippings of candle wax, finished with a huge ornament.

imageAnother chandelier looking from the hall into the living room.

imageThe hall from the living room into the rest of the home.

imageSanta has forgotten his hat on the bed…



Jim’s painting over the chest in the bedroom, it is only displayed during the Christmas season, another takes its place the rest of the year.  I was quite taken with this painting.  Obviously a talented artist.

imageAnother wall in the bedroom, I love icons and have done a post on them.

imageOne of the bathrooms, of course, in its festive attire!

How about a couple of wreaths…..

imageIn the dining room..

imageAnd inside the backdoor in the kitchen….

imageThe back bedroom with its African theme gets in the holiday spirit!

imageimageimageThe drinks tables…special Christmas Mimosas, yummy!

imageThe tree in the corner of the dining room with more treasured memories

imageimageOh, and did I mention food……my oh my what a spread. Top photo the sweets table (I suggested a cookie exchange next year they were so good!!!!!) Bottom the baked ham, cheeses., paté, relishes and on and on and on……(I got a goodie bag, yay!!!!)

imageJim, Nena, and Greg in front of the tree (still wasn’t finished the tinsel had yet to be placed piece by piece by piece!) that rivals the one in The Walnut Room and this one is alive!!!!!  Thank you so much, my friends, for allowing me to share your Christmas story with my readers, I am most grateful!

The soup served was worthy of my having two cups, here is the recipe beyond fabulous but then so was the entire afternoon…



4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 1/2 quarts chicken stock

32 ounces (4 cups) canned pumpkin

2/3 cup brown sugar

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

Nutmeg to taste

2 cups heavy cream

Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Serves 12

Melt butter in 6 or 8-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add curry powder and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add chicken stock, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; blend in cream.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Adjust to desired consistency with a roux (equal parts melted butter and flour) or a whitewash (flour and water).  If too thin, cook an additional 10 minutes to cook out the starch.  If too thick, add more cream.  Adjust flavor with seasonings.

Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy.  Ladle into bowls or mugs and garnish with chives or parsley.



















imageThis week I have been featuring Christmas traditions, today I am highlighting the extraordinary collections of an extremely talented friend of mine, Virginia Heaven.  We have known each other for years, and years, and years!  We first met at the Chicago History Museum where she was the Assistant Curator of Costumes, we have continued our friendship through our association with the Costume Society of America Symposium and for the past many years with the Fashion Studies Department at Columbia College Chicago and spend many an evening over a glass or two of wine and a cheese tray at the Chicago Hilton talking about the way of the world.  Virginia is never at a loss for words, ideas and her passion for collecting so many different things.  I have used some of her photos in past posts and am still waiting (are you reading this Ms. Virginia….) for her to complete my profile questionnaire…..someday!  Today I am sharing some of her Christmas favorites.  Please forgive me for starting with my photo of the wonderful winter house she made and gave me several years ago.  I should keep it out all year, but there are some things that one needs to keep for special occasions…don’t you agree!  All photos are Virginia’s and I will give you brief information as we look at them.

A quote from Virginia “I have been collecting Christmas decorations in earnest since 1979 on my December honeymoon in Moscow (starter husband) where I purchased holiday ornaments made in Eastern Europe at the GUM Department Store (before it was fancy) still the Soviet Union.  I have always loved Christmas and it was a huge thing when I was a child (only child like you Nena).”  Virginia is English so we continue that theme as well, what can I say!

Her two most favorite things are her birds and her Snow Babies (which are getting much more collectible and more expensive, what isn’t!)  Here a couple of photos of these two collections…..might I pause here and remind you that the last Randolph Street Market of 2017 is this Saturday and Sunday, December 16 and 17 from 10 to 5 each day.  Do come for the festivities and see what you can find for last minute gifts and for yourself while enjoying yummy treats and delicious drink.  And, by the way, there will be Christmas Trees in the parking lot (parking is free!!!!!!).

imageA beautiful German glass bird (I had these when I was a little girl) perched in her red tree.  imageSome of her treasured Snow Babies, charm personified!

imageYou knew I would find a book on the subject…….here you go.

imageNot one of Virginia’s but a charmer I found on Pinterest no photo credit available.

Yes, a real “snow baby” started a collecting trend. Find out more about the tot born at the North Pole and how it led to snowbabies figurines. Read More:
image“The green church is homemade from early 20th century, the base and fence were purchased separately and all the tinsel and brush trees were accumulated over the years.”
image“This church is home-made probably in the 1940’s it was made for a real tree but I use it with a fake tree that I cover with my blown glass birds.”
Let’s go on to the Santas…..”I also collect Harold Gale Santa’s and make a Santa tree in an old wire Victorian plant stand.  I also collect minature German and Japanaese animal bands!”
And now some of the vignettes…..
imageimageimageimageimageimageThese pieces are clock cases that Virginia has discarded the nonfunctioning clocks and made them into display cases, they stay out all year and their contents often change.
imageThis is my favorite, I might need a bigger bag when I visit, if you get my meaning!!!!
imageLet’s pull up a chair by the fire and enjoy some of the treats Virginia has put out for us.
A true wonder of a multitude of collections each special in its own right but all work together, in my opinion, perfectly and reflect the wonderful aesthetic of their owner.  Bravo Virginia….keep on collecting, I know it is in your DNA!!  Thank you so much for sharing it with us.