Spring Centerpieces for A Charitable Event

What would you do if you volunteered to make 36 table centerpieces 
for a charitable event with virtually no money for decorating?
Call my friend and graphic designer, Susie!  Remember her from this post?
She agreed to do the table decorations 
honoring our public high school's students' mentors.  Budget = zero.  Sound familiar?
She made beautiful paper daffodils in "milk glass" vases.
Her husband, Bob, said they were "multiplying and 
taking over every surface in their home!"
 Here, are the essentials to make your crepe paper daffodils... the top dark yellow square is twisted to form the center stem, the center leaves are cut with a wavy pattern and the external leaves are more pointed. Each layer is glued with the Zip Dry paper glue below. Wrap the flower base and leaf with florist tape and attach to floral wire.
Susie raided her closet and all the local thrift shops for clear inexpensive florist vases 
that she manually swirled with white paint (not a brush) inside to resemble milk glass.  
Then she let them dry over night.
Lovely finished product.  I think they would also be cute decorating gift packages.
AND the winner of the Six Champagne Flutes Give-away 
(via randomnumber.org) is Bette from ideezine.  Check out her educational and fun blog.

Best Wishes,
Mary Ann

Participating in


Matching Your Decor

Look how the birthday present that I brought to my sister in San Diego
unintentionally matches her home's décor.
When my mother and sister moved into a new large home together,
 I had the interesting decorating challenge of combining  
my sister's more contemporary taste with that of my mother's traditional furnishings 
(along with a lot of brutal editing).  I hope to give you a tour of their home soon.
The view from their back garden.

 Last Sunday,
 I accidentally ended up coordinating with our table setting...
I probably should have changed clothes.
Do you find your wardrobe sometimes match your décor?

Best wishes,


Paris Budget Shopping--Is This Title a Downer?

Does Budget and Paris sound good together?   Hmmm...
OK, the exchange rate isn't good, it takes about $1.44 US to buy one euro,
BUT you can still have fun shopping in Paris.
The trendy Merci concept store in the third arrondissement has only been around
for a couple of years but the merchandise has completely changed since the last time I was there.
It's fun to browse everything from clothing
my little mademoiselle, Alie
to home goods...

I love chairs.
And there are affordable things to buy like these cute creamers and
 these cotton dish towel rolls that are perforated like paper towels but washable.
I bought two easy to pack rolls to take home as gifts.

The Porte de Vanves flea market still has some deals to be found.
The flea market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 am to noon.  Try to get there early.
Prices are negotiable.
My friend purchased the antique wooden tray above on the left.

I bought the little pitcher for two euros and the silver soup ladle was twenty euros.

This toile tray was only three euros.
I also bought this vintage Chanel silk scarf.
In France, counterfeiting products is a huge crime (ha! not like in Chinatown in NYC)
and they save forever for the real thing and go for quality over quantity.
My point is, I am pretty sure the scarf is authentic and the quality is beautiful BUT
there are a couple stains that the dry cleaners could not get out (any suggestions?).
C'est la vie.  The pattern is busy enough, they are sort of hidden.

Then, there is the "Target store" of Paris...MONOPRIX...

Some little purchases of mine...
It is not the time for sales like in the summer and the big department stores are not
offering a 10% tourist discount anymore, but
we still had fun shopping at the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet.
These little bird shaped sugars actually perch on the teacup...how fun to serve to guests!

Look what I bought for myself at a newsstand (so much less expensive than in the US).  
These are such great magazines.
A great trip!  Thanks for coming with me,
Best wishes,
Mary Ann

Participating in Blue Monday and Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays and


Guest Feature on "Hooked On Houses"

Interrupting my "Paris" reporting to let you know that Julia from "Hooked On Houses
asked to feature our
"Classic Casual Beach House Kitchen 
Gets a Makeover."
"After" photo
"Hooked On Houses"is like the entertainment 
magazine of home design...  

...with regular features such as:
Befores and Afters (like ours)
Movie Set Houses
and Celebrity Homes

So, check it out HERE.  You'll see our never shown 
"before renovation" photos and some new ones.
Thanks, Julia.

Best Wishes,
Mary Ann

Also featured on Involving Color.  
Thanks, Jena.

Participating in Transformation Thursday and 


Baccarat Room Paris by Starck and Other Favorite Places

"Any man carrying a bouquet of flowers is handsome"...saying in France
Monceau Fleurs is my favorite place in Paris.  
When we lived there, I used to splurge and go once a week.
Their prices are reasonable and it is educational and fragrant to watch as arrangements are made.

 You can trust our 18 year old son, Tommy's food recommendations.  His favorite crepe stand 
is  La Pépiniere on Place St. Augustin,  in the 8th arrondissement.  
He has tried crepes all over the city and claims this to be the best.
The stand, once run by the father, has now has been taken over by his son 
with the same impeccable standards.
Tommy likes Nutella and bananas.

Et Voila!

Tommy's favorite restaurant in Paris is L'Entrecote.  This casual restaurant serves one menu:  salad and steak-frites. Delicious and hot!  There are a few locations in Paris.  We dined most recently at the one on the Left Bank in St. Germain des Prés.

My husband, Howard loves the outdoor grocery markets such as the one on 
Rue Poncelet in the 17th arrondissement.
 "Why do I feel like Ina Garten right now?" ...my sister, Teresa
 Small, tasty, dark orange cantaloupes make me never want to eat an American one again.
 Howard also shops at the outdoor marché on Rue Levis...
near Parc Monceau where we rented a lovely apartment 
 "Those asparagus are the size of fishing poles." ...Howard 
My family agrees that one of the best dinners in Paris
was the one Howard made in the apartment with the well equipped kitchen.
All his fabulously fresh ingredients came from the market on Rue Levis.
 Nicholas is a great wine chain store all over Paris.  
"Any wine over three euros is drinkable"...daughter, Alie aged 23.  
Ha!  Not sure my husband would agree with that statement since he collects wines.
 By the way, I enjoy reading here for Quintessence's wine advice.

 Chez André is a reliable French bistro in the eighth arrondissement.
Here is our French waitress from Chez André...notice the eyeglass similarities with my sister's?

Our dear friend, Lisa came over from England to join my sister and me for a special day:
a tour of the Baccarat museum and lunch in the Cristal Room Paris.

I took these photos in the museum before I was told "Pas de photos, Madame."

 The restroom (cool stainless steel sink) is mirrored and
gives you the illusion of being surrounded by crystal chandeliers.

We had a beautiful lunch in the Cristal Room Baccarat which was the
former dining room of the townhouse.  Philippe Starck preserved the original design,
and added his signature modern touches.
Notice the frescoed ceiling along with chalkboard drawing (sorry about the visiblilty, I was trying to be discrete about the photography although they did not seem to care as much in the restaurant).
The kitchen is under the direction of  the famous Michelin rated chef,
Guy Martin.  The three course meal was elegant but not overly elaborate using peak
Springtime ingredients.  The "French" portions were perfect for us and the service was formal
(three waiters serve and remove plates at the same time).
Complimentary little desserts at the end of the meal.
We enjoyed drinking Champagne out of the super elegant Baccarat flutes.
Speaking of flutes, remember to join the giveaway if you have not already here.
Since we spent all our money on an unforgettable lunch,
in my next post, I will show you how to

Best wishes,
Mary Ann

Participating in Table Top Tuesday and Wow Us Wednesday.