Five Paperies I love

I am a sucker for all things paper.  I mean, after all, my blog was named after the art of writing a letter.  I love girly, monogrammed, simple and elaborate.  Gold foil, floral, striped or polka dots.  You name it, I probably bought it and probably have way too much of it.  So, I am here to share with you five paperies I LOVE.  It’s always a good reminder for us all to send a hand-written note, delivered USPS with a stamp and all.  To say thank you, say I love you or just to say hello. Snail mail is my fave and written on these cards would just be the icing on the cake!  Enjoy!

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Haute Papierann-ueno-kate-spade

Kate Spadeann-ueno-lindsay-letters

Lindsay Lettersann-ueno-rifle-paper-co

Rifle Paper Co

ann-ueno-sugar-paperSugar Paper

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Three Years Ago…

San Francisco 019…Labor Day weekend, on a bench at Buckingham Fountain in Chicago, Rick asked me to marry him.  No ring.  Not on bended knee.  No flowers.  Just a simple, “sooo, do you want to get married?”

After our several year discovery process (to use work terminology), it was time.  Time to move forward.  Time to commit our lives to each other before God. Time to close our current chapter and open a new one, together.  He asks me the question.  I say yes.  After much back and forth, we decided to elope.  Elope with five people: our pastor (a dear friend) and his wife; two singers (our friends, husband and wife); and Rick’s son, Zach.

Eloped we did, after our 7 week engagement.  An engagement that was not focused on the flowers or the guest list or the venue or losing weight or the perfect dress.  An engagement that was focused on each other, preparing our hearts for a commitment that in the world, fails 50% of the time.  But with God, can succeed 100% of the time.  This is what we hang on to.  We spent hours writing our vows for each other.  And just minutes on where we would have dinner and what hotel would we stay at.  We decided on a chef’s table at Quartino and a weekend together at The Peninsula.

Three years ago I said yes, with confidence and faith that God has a perfect plan and it just so happened that the plan was one Rick and I were a part of.  I said yes to the marriage.  Yes to spending my life, in good times and in bad, with Rick.  For that moment, the unromantic, yet oddly perfect proposal, I am forever grateful.

P.S.  I took this picture in San Francisco this past weekend, to no coincidence.  I love Rick more than all the stars 🙂

Word of the Week: Francophile + Assorted French Cards from Rifle Paper Co.

francophile-greeting-cardsBonjour!

Over the weekend and into late last night, Paris was on my mind.  When isn’t Paris on my mind?

For one, yesterday was Bastille Day (French National Day, a celebratory day, similar to 4th of July in the states, it is a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic during the French Revolution – thanks Wikipedia).

Second, my best friend just got back from Paris and over golf and dinner on Saturday, she shared some of her stories that brought me back to that beautiful city in that beautiful country.  Oh and she may have taken an all-day cooking class in Nice.  Yeah, talk about Julia Child on the brain.

And last, late last night I was checking out the blog of one of my new blog followers, Bravogue.  First off, how clever is that name?  Second, in his “about me” section of his blog, he deemed himself a Francophile.  And immediately my head went to of course I have a crazy Francophile following my blog, not knowing what the heck a Francophile was.  But in reading about him, he didn’t seem crazy and frankly, I admired his passion for going after what he wants (he wants to be a stylist slash work for Vogue Paris one day).  So a Francophile can’t be that bad/weird/crazy, right?

Admittedly, I had to Google what the heck a Francophile was.  And as I was reading, I was screaming in my head (Rick was sleeping next to me otherwise it would have been a verbal, very loud squeal) I AM A FRANCOPHILE, TOO, MR. BRAVOGUE!

So, I am going to err on the side that Francophile is a robust word, one that only smart people use and that it’s very uncommon (ahem, um, that’s why I had to look it up…) and share with you what a Francophile is from Wikipedia:

Francophile: Francophile (or Gallophile) is an individual who has a strong positive predisposition or interest toward the government, culture,history, or people of France. This could include France itself or its history, the French language, French cuisine, literature, etc.

Yep, that’s me.  

The best part is in a few hours I am jet-setting to Montreal which is one of my favorite cities because it reminds me of Paris!  Have a great week and please don’t make fun of me in person or in the comments for my complete ignorance to a word I should have known years ago!  🙂

{Photo Credit is from none other than Rifle Paper Co, one of my favorite Paperies. And how cute is this collection of assorted French Cards?

From Italy With Love

ann-ueno-italyAs an avid traveler, it’s hard to state a favorite place I have been. Different cities and experiences each hold special places in my heart.  Whether it’s the culture, the food, the people I am with (or without), each destination shapes me, makes me laugh, challenges me and sometimes makes me cry.  All this said, as I sit at the outdoor bar (an American bar, not an Italian bar…I learned very quickly there is a big difference) of the Grand Hotel Villa Cora sipping on a bright orange and very bitter Aperol spritzer, I know that now when someone asks me my favorite place I have traveled, in the sentences that follow, the word Italy will be present.

Yes, I am only a few days into the trip but Italy is just one of those places that grabs  your heart and fills it with love.  It fills your stomach with simple, delicious spaghetti with just a touch of tomato sauce and fresh basil.  It touches your lips with the taste of a young, ruby red Chianti.  With a crisp, white table wine.  With fresh baked, crusty bread.

Italy is filled with energy and emphasis and emotion.  Everywhere you turn, there is beauty, bright colors, rich smells, chic men and women.  There is a hustle and bustle and chaos.  And moments later there is peace and silence and a moon that engulfs the country with its white rays.

And most importantly, Italy fills you with love.  The kind of love you dream of.  The kind of love that is passionate and spicy and flavorful.  Love that comes from a simple arugula salad.  And a deep kiss you only see in the movies.  Love that comes from the clinking of four glasses of a bubbly Prosecco where strangers become friends.  Love that comes from the language, the words that roll off the tongue in a way that make your ears smile.

I am in love with Italy.  And I’m excited to share more of our adventures soon.  Until then, ciao ciao!ann-ueno-italy

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I love a hand-written note.  Well, to be honest, I actually love any kind of note whether it be an email, a card or a text message to say hello, thank you or I love you.  Hence “Ann Written Notes” as the name of this bloggy blog.  Anyways, this past week, Rick and I received a few great thank you notes that I wanted to share.

Being in the hotel business, Rick and I want to make sure that our friends and family have great hotel stays and overall, a memorable and inviting experience while in Chicago.  And it’s a perfect tag team:  Rick knows how to take are of people at his hotel (I guess being in the business for 30 years has taught him a few things).  And I know how to take care of people in our home (ahem, we have an extra bedroom and I love having dinner parties and serving Moscow mules…come on over!).   Getting notes like the below is exactly why we love doing what we do.  God didn’t make a mistake when he brought us together…we LOVE the hospitality business!  And we love making people happy 🙂

And to that, I wanted to offer you a little challenge for this weekend:  Write someone you love a card.  Write a note to your boss to say thank you.  Write a note to an old friend just to say hi.  I promise they will love it and you will bring a smile to their face 🙂

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Friday Round Up: Presence and Presents

ann-written-notesIt’s funny that these words come up and resonate with me so much this week.  Presence and Presents. In one case at work, we literally talked about social media engagement vs. social media presents.  Not presence.  Presents.  I made sure to clarify to the lovely listeners on the phone that I didn’t have a typo and it was, in fact, presents.  Would the event want engagement or presents (ahem, gifts)?  Engagement.

And it comes as no coincidence that last night I experienced both for my final birthdaymonth dinner celebration.  As we all know, schedules are tough and everyone is busy so for my birthday, I always try to get a date on the calendar for a girls dinner at some point within a week or two of my birthday.  And last night was the night.  Presence with friends.  Friends that matter most.

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We celebrated at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Chicago, Shaw’s, and at the oyster bar nonetheless, at 6pm, I looked up to see five of my most favorite and closest friends around me.  They all hold different and special places in my heart.

  1. Liz is my oldest friend from home (18-19 years…oh my gosh!).  She gets the O-town (Ottawa, IL) jokes.  She makes me laugh.  She’s genuine and kind and has stuck by my side.  We have come in and out of each other’s lives, but always end up together again as if NO time has passed.  She still cracks me up.  I still love her.
  2. Sarah is my second oldest friend from college and we have both been through hell and back together.  We are both strong, energetic, travel and experience lovers and yes, at times, our personalities want to punch each other in the face.  But, that’s what keeps us together.  Our passion.  That common ground combined with what we have been through will always keep us together.  She’s sweet and loving and caring.  And honest.ann-written-notes
  3. Eileen comes next and she and I have grown deep into the real best friend kind of love the last 3-5 years.  Marriages, divorces, deaths, honesty, confessions, tears, laughter, farts, traveling and a lot of incredible conversations along the way, she is the real-deal kind of friend.  She’s not fake.  She will tell you the truth.  She stands her ground, she’s tough to argue with (because she’s smart and is an attorney), but I can hang with her and we both can love each other unconditionally which is why she remains such a dear friend to me.
  4. Rose.  Oh Rose.  The sunshine to all of us, the laughter, the kindness, the energy we all wish we had more of.  I met Rose through Eileen and I am SO grateful for that (love how God connects us Kevin Bacon style).  Rose is special in that she has more passion than most people and she radiates it and it just makes you love her even more.  You can talk love, spirituality, sex, finances, whatever with her and will NEVER feel judged and always walk away saying, “gosh, I love Rose.”  I can hear her laugh as I type this 🙂
  5. Vaneesha.  V.  My accountability partner, sister in Christ, dear, sweet friend.  I only recently met Vaneesha about 3 years ago through our church and the minute she walked in with her ear-to-ear smile, incredible fashion sense and passion for God, I knew this would be a friendship I would end up cherishing.  From our nights over food and wine, to our mornings of devotionals, to confessions and tears and sharing our fears and vulnerabilities, V has been an instrumental part of my walk with God and has grown to be one of my closest friends.

The presence of close girlfriends make up memories that go down deep into your heart and soul.  Last night, as I admired the beautiful women that surrounded me, was a memory that is now deep in my heart and soul.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Each of them were not only kind enough to take me out for champagne, oysters and sushi, but they each brought me a physical gift.  A present.  As we sipped our drinks and told stories, I opened each gift one-by-one and what kept coming to me was “I am known.”  Yes, presents are just material goods that perish, but for some reason, last night, they were far more than that.  As I opened each card that was unique with scribbles of inspiring words and love from each of them, the present that followed was just as special.

Paris in Color note cards from Sarah (she knows Paris in Color is one of my all-time favorite books) combined with Lush lavender bath balls (she knows I need to, ahem, slow down and relax).

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Chanel Chance perfume from Eileen (she knows that every girl needs a classic perfume AND I was in the market for a new perfume), followed by the greatest travel perfume holder (because she knew I wanted it).

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A glitzy gold iPhone case from Liz that she searched high and low, west coast to east coast to find for me, literally (she knows I love all things gold).

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A perfect animal-print Citrine by the Stone bracelet from Vaneesha’s favorite shop back home.  Proceeds go to a great cause (she knows I love gold jewelry, she knows my taste and she knows I love giving back).

ann-written-notes-animal-print-braceletA vintage pitcher with four matching glasses from Rose, featuring chalkboard labels (she knows I love to host and I love ANYTHING chalkboard and therefore, anything customizable).

ann-written-notes-chalkboard-glassesI truly know how blessed I am to have these women in my life.  Ladies, I love you and more importantly, thank you for loving me, thank you for knowing me and thank you for your presence and the presents.

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All You Need is Love.

ann-written-notes2Lennon coined the phrase and he was spot on.  The reality is, all we really do need is love. I believe that with my WHOLE heart.  I believe that humans are created to love and be loved.  I believe that God designed us to love, to long for love.  I believe love can fill us up and bring us joy.  It’s a super emotion, a reality, a gift, and when you have it, you know it.  It starts with our parents.  And then with friends.  Perhaps a pet. A hobby.  A boyfriend. Grandparents. Siblings. A spouse.  Food.  Art. Travel.  When we experience love, whether it be human love or the love of something, I believe we are at our best.  The way we were designed to be.

And today, albeit a Hallmark holiday, I wish nothing more than each of you to experience love. Whether it’s savoring your favorite food. Sharing an evening in with your closest girlfriends, champagne and strawberries (and perhaps a chick flick). Going on a first date.  Or a tenth one. Giving love to someone else by means of your words or actions or a traditional love letter (come on, you know you would love to get one of these). Surprising your kids with a Valentine’s Day game night at home where you get to eat cupcakes for dinner. Calling someone you haven’t spoken to lately just to say “I Love You.”  Stopping, even just for a moment, to remind yourself of all the love you are surrounded with each and every day.

However you spend today and tonight, I encourage you to love and be loved!  And in the meantime, here are some beautiful quotes I curated to get you in the mood.  Oh come on, not that kind of mood!  Gross.

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ann-written-notes4 ann-written-notes5 ann-written-notes7ann-written-notes9All sources can be found on my Pinterest Board.

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