Fall’s Beautiful Bounty


The sun is rising later and setting earlier.  The mornings are chilly, if not just plain cold.  While summer never seems to last long enough, fall brings with it a sense of slowing down, enjoying the fruits of our growing season. The satisfaction of putting my hands in the dirt for one last time as I clean out my gardens brings with it a sense of gratitude, reflection and excitement as we enter into a new season of festivities.  The smell of a wood fire follows me on my walk with my dog and transports me to the valleys, castles and medieval villages of Abruzzo, Italy, home of my mother’s family.  For others, though, fall is a bustling time of bringing in the harvest.  Whether it is wheat, apples, olives, grapes or the multitude of crops that are brought in to nourish us through the year, the bounty is beautiful.

I am so grateful for the wonderful farmers market that delivers local produce, meat, eggs, and flowers.  It is truly wonderful to walk and talk with the growers, meet friends, and share in the celebration of the season.  Game birds and venison will be on the table, along with gorgeous vegetables.  My senses are inspired by the colors and textures. I try not to get ahead of myself during this glorious time and just take in moments before we are blanketed in white.

One  of my favorite pottery artisans, Ireland’s Nicholas Mosse,  continues to delight me with old favorites and new patterns that will be on my table and in my kitchen this fall and winter.   Traditional designs like Reindeer and Winter Robin and the new Lawn Pattern  bring color, celebration, and function that create the perfect invitation to sitting down for a lovely evening with family and friends.


Ann Marie

With the chill in the air I crave the smells, colors, and flavors of roasted vegetables.  This butternut squash gratin is the perfect fall dish.  Serve it with your favorite game; roast duck or venison.  But it is equally good enjoyed as a main course with a beautiful salad and some chewy bread spread with this yummy Mushroom Spread with Truffle.

Butternut Squash Gratin

I like to cut the squash in 3 inch sections and roast it first.  I am not a big fan of wrestling with peeling uncooked squash so I have found roasting the squash in sections simplifies using any winter squash in a recipe.

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 (2 pound) butternut squash
  • fine sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Casina Rossa Truffle and Salt (use as a finishing salt) *optional
  • 1/2 cup grated Fontina or Gruyere cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Alba White Truffle Oil *optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Slice the squash in 3 inch chunks, remove seeds, and place on a rimmed cookie sheet  that has been drizzled with olive oil.  Drizzle squash with a bit more oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes.

Remove squash from oven.  Butter a 9-inch baking or gratin dish with  1 tablespoon butter.  Using an oven mitt or hot pad, peel the skin off the squash.  Slice the squash into 1/4 inch slices and layer into the baking dish, sprinkling some salt and pepper between each layer.  When the dish is half full sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese and rosemary over the squash.  Continue layering the squash with salt and pepper.  Pour the cream over the top, add remaining cheese and rosemary.  Cover the dish with foil and bake an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, remove the foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  Drizzle lightly with Truffle Oil and sprinkle lightly with Truffle Salt.

Serve warm.




Fall Harvest and Festivals In Switzerland.


It is always a struggle for me to decide whether to travel to Europe in the fall-it is the most fantastic time to go, when the tourists have abated and the festivals of wine, harvests and the “hunt” for game and mushrooms are beginning.   But, it is always hard for me to leave my beloved northern Wisconsin which has amazing color and weather this time of year.  So I usually wait for the last moment and go in October to catch the best of both.    Some of my best memories of fall in Europe are the visits with my husband Stephan to his home town of Schaffhausen, a beautiful city in northern Switzerland.   We stay at  the Park Villa Hotel.   I cannot compare this place to anywhere else I have ever stayed.   The proprietor Max is a true gentleman, the ultimate host, and let me add, quirky and entertaining.   The entire hotel, including the guest rooms, are stuffed with amazing antiques…not your usual antiques, but truly amazing one-of-a-kind.    His kitchen is wonderful.   During the fall, the truffles and other mushrooms are on the menu along with incredible game dishes that Max has worked his magic on.   Swiss wine is always a treat.  You rarely see it here in the states because they do not export very much, so that light, wonderful, local wine of Schaffhausen made from Pinot Noir grapes  is something I always look forward to.   All around Shaffhausen in the country villages there are the festivals for the fall, usually centered around the wine harvest.   And we always find room for a  lovely sausage and beer.  Also, one cannot miss a trip to the Rhinefalls- the biggest waterfall in Europe.

One of the things I love most is that life changes season to season and always there is something to look forward to.   I think when I am home I get caught up in the day to day activities, but over there, the seasons and harvest bring out such different tones.   I think it is the traditional vs our modern world.  They retain the traditions and keep them alive for future generations.   My kind of world.

For the season at our Ann Marie shop I have brought in some special dinnerware -Forest Walk, new from Juliska of Portugal.  Also, our vintage pewter pieces from Arte Italica are a handsome addition to any celebration and add a luxury element to your Forest Feast.  It is a time to start thinking  feasts and platters and wine and celebrations and creating a lovely table for the upcoming celebrations.

For food and drink I am stocking my pantry with Ann Marie fall gourmet foods like Chestnut Egg Tagliatelle, Truffle Salt, Truffle Oil, Truffle and Olive Pate, Polenta, and Risotto.   For a delicious warm up try our  Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon Cranberry, and our special Harvest Fall Blend Coffee.   More inspirations include Cherry Bitters for a hot toddy and Hazelnut Cranberry Crisps to serve with goat cheese.

Happy Fall Celebrations,

Ann Marie



Inspired by fall in Shaffhausen, enjoy this pasta with mushrooms along with your favorite Pinot Noir and a simple salad of bitter greens with a classic vinaigrette.  The town of Shaffhausen owns a vineyard around the Munot Castle that sits in the center of town overlooking the River Rhein.  The wine they produce is named Munoetler.

View on Rhine river and famous Munot fortifiction. Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

View on Rhine river and famous Munot fortifiction. Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Pasta with Fall Mushrooms

Serves 4-6

2 packages 8.8 oz. Chestnut Egg Tagliatelle 

1/2 pound assorted wild mushrooms (golden chanterelle, shiitake, cremini, oyster, porcini, etc.), trimmed and sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream


freshly ground pepper

Truffle oil

Grated Pecorino Cheese to taste

Handful of chopped Italian parsley

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for just until it becomes aromatic and careful not to burn.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to brown and release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and let reduce about 5 minutes. Add the cream and reduce about 5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and quickly toss with mushroom sauce.  Finish with a drizzle of truffle oil, a sprinkle (or more) of delicious sheep’s milk Pecorino cheese and parsley.





Inspired By the English Countryside

My Trip to Highclere Castle

Since my very first trip to England back in the 80’s , I have been smitten with the English countryside.   The gardens of England are always in my dreams, and are the inspiration for my garden at our Ann Marie shop.   I have been to England several times since on business but imagine my delight when I won a trip to Highclere Castle, home of the filming of one of my favorite English shows, Downton Abbey.   The trip was sponsored by Heritage Lace, a maker a beautiful Downton Abbey inspired curtains and tablecloths.

Being able to make the trip with my good friend Jan, also an avid Downton Abbey fan, made it all the more special.   We started our tour with an all too brief stop at Oxford. A quick walk around, a great English Hand Pie from the market and we were off to Bampton Village in Oxfordshire where some of the Downton Abbey village scenes were shot.   The village is so quaint with lovely brick houses and window boxes filled with flowers still in bloom.  After a quick visit to the St Mary’s church where 2 weddings, a fair and a funeral had taken place on the series we were off to our last stop; the greatly anticipated main event of Highclere Castle.   As we approached the castle I was in awe of the intricate nature of the façade on the castle. Wandering through the castle I recalled the many scenes from the series and was again inspired by the country life of England.   Elegant but rustic, it brought visions of the history of the castle as I had read about. A real feeling of a home, though in grand style, of course.   I paid special attention to the lace window treatments and tablecloths as we wandered through.   I was excited to go home to market our lovely Downton Abbey Lace Curtains and tabletop wares to our avid customers who also love England.   The grand finale was our lovely High Tea in the carriage house on the grounds. Scones with jam and clotted cream, a lovely piece of raspberry filled sponge and as usual, the best English Tea. A perfect end to a lovely day.

On my arrival home I could not wait to share the experience with my husband and enjoy the pleasures of another English afternoon tea served in our new Coronation Meadow pottery from Burleigh of England.   The pottery is Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales’s Coronation Meadows project, which aims to establish wildflower meadows across the UK. The “Coronation Meadows” pattern is a celebration of the British countryside. A perfect ending to a perfectly fine English experience.


Coronation Meadows by Burleigh, England


Enjoy these favorite tea-time recipes that have just the right hint of lavender to transport you to the Gardens of Highclere.

Lemon-Lavender Shortbread



  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the chopped lavender and grated lemon zest. Beat in the butter at moderate speed. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Form the dough into a 4-inch log and chill for at least 45 minutes longer.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the shortbread dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on ungreased baking sheets. Freeze the rounds for 10 minutes.
  • Bake the shortbread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer the baked shortbread to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make Ahead

The cookie-dough log can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. The baked shortbread can be stored in an airtight container.

Lavender infused sugar

I love this infused sugar to sprinkle over fresh baked sugar cookies, in my morning tea, or incorporated into my favorite pound cake recipe. It keeps beautifully in an airtight container, and every time I open the lid, I get a waft of lavender essence.

2 teaspoons fresh, chopped lavender leaves and flowers to 1 cup sugar. Stir the lavender into the sugar and store in an airtight container.


Ann Marie



Who is Ann Marie?

Little Ann Marie RD2

Taking a cue from that classic film “You’ve Got Mail”, I would like to start this letter as if we are in the middle of a conversation. As though we were sitting at a corner table together, sipping foam from the top of perfectly poured lattes, and talking about the intricacies of our lives.

The thing is, I’d like to tell you a bit more about the Ann Marie who is behind Ann Marie’s. That is, me. The girl whose vivacious Italian family and love for beautiful shapes and colors grew into a three decade romance with all things European and a little shop in the deep woods of Wisconsin.

My adoration for shapes and colors and textures began when I was a young girl playing with rows of canning jars in my grandmother’s pantry. Canning was a serious business in our family, and the light shining through green and blue hued glass always brought me into a sort of reverie. I used to imagine that pantry was my own little shop with shelf after shelf attracting the attention of lovely ladies from far away places. This sort of day dreaming only seemed to last as long as it took for my older brother to discover my haven, pull my hair, and tease me for dawdling. The vision never truly faded.  My first European experience then set the tone for the rest of my life.

edinburgh castle rd

I can only describe those few weeks in Scotland as the first time I have ever truly connected with the warm feelings from my childhood.  Kathryn, a friend from college, and I would wake each morning and walk across cobblestone streets and bridges, experiencing all the incredible spaces Edinburgh had to offer. Our trips to the many tea rooms with our Scottish friend Christine were an absolute dream.  We spent our days exploring every inch of the city we could afford to get to, drinking loose leaf tea out of porcelain teacups and scones off of beautiful cake trays. There’s nothing in the world better than a perfectly steeped tea poured from a fine teapot, except perhaps the smooth feel of fine china on your lips. We would sit and watch the Edinburgh castle light up every night, take the train up to the highlands and the Isle of Skye, and find the absolute best sweaters and water color paintings and, of course, more tea, and pottery.

My first visit to Europe left a lasting impression on my senses. I knew it wouldn’t be my last.

It wasn’t long after being back amongst the long green shadows, the fragrance of pine, and the ghostly white of birch trees of Wisconsin that my mind was transported back to my Scottish days, and the wonderful conversations over tea. I decided then to recreate the warmth of that European adventure in the woods of Wisconsin. I decided then to create, “Ann Marie’s”.

The stores Ann Marie’s began in the late 1980’s as a tiny coffee and tea house in a garden in Minocqua, Wisconsin, run by that same lively, curly-headed italian, now a young woman, with a lot of determination. Ann Marie’s takes me back to the cobblestone streets of Europe in search of new items to bring back to my shop – French linens, Irish pottery, Dutch toys, or Scottish capes, among other things. I have had ridiculous adventures, found the loveliest little places, made the very best of friends, and had a lot of luck. Today, Ann Marie’s has grown to two beautiful locations. Our original Garden Shop with lush outside spaces filled with flowers and aromatic herbs, a bounty of fresh organic vegetables in the kitchen, tables laden with hand-painted European pottery from such exquist, and huge vases of fragrant blooms throughout. And our new Chalet Shop – built in the traditional style of a Swiss Chalet – filled with amazing natural light and the very best of the things I’ve found during my travels. Our loyal customers come back each year updating us of their own personal adventures in Europe and about, sharing their amazing finds, and enjoying all the things we’ve added into our Ann Marie’s collection. Throughout the years we’ve cultivated a keen eye for exceptional European pottery, developed the very best European style coffee, imported beautifully blended teas, and curated extensive collections from the finest brands including Emma Bridgewater Pottery, Nicholas Mosse and Burleigh. In the last decade, we have taken the uniquely intimate experience of Ann Marie’s stores nationwide through our website making our products available to our customers worldwide via our online shop. So there you have it. A glimpse into the tenacious and wonderful beginning of my dear little shop in Northern Wisconsin. Through these letters, I hope we can continue to share our uniquely adventurous lives together. Continuing on the journey.

Your Friend,

AM Blog Sig01

Ann Marie


Coffee, Inspiration for Ann Marie

Coffee – one of the greatest sensual indulgences of humanity. The spark of inspiration and the toast to muses. How much, without coffee, would not be accomplished! Ambitious dreams would be dulled, novels, poems and songs would probably not be written. Paradigm shifts would not take place! David Letterman jests “If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” We associate coffee with so many pursuits and endeavors. Even former coach Mike Ditka overstates with sports hyperbole “Coffee, It’s the life blood that fuels the dreams of champions!” There has always been an aesthetics of coffee since it so intimately related to taste: flavor, richness, and other descriptors. Of course, the coffee aficionada knows that the secrets of an aesthetics of coffee are most certainly bound to geography, to soil, to climate, to heritage, culture and other variables. Many of us rely so much on coffee to compose, create and for early morning inspiration or burning the midnight oil.

As a ritual to the muses, many of us prefer a select and particular brand or blend for consumption in our creative environs. Ann Marie’s has a variety of coffees from simple Colombians to Organics, Fair Trade and Premium coffees such as Kona Fancy. In our small but quaint shop the roasting is done on a bi-weekly basis, keeping every pound we sell fresh and special. We flavor our own favorites such as Hazelnut, Butter Toffee, Maple Walnut, Southern Pecan and Sinful Nut. Browse and shop our exquisite collection, we are sure we have the blend perfect for your moments of innovation. Don’t forget Ann Marie’s own special blends, Northern Mornings, Wilderness Blend, Campfire Blend, San Francisco Blend, New Orleans Blend and Three Continent Blends If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and one of our excellent customer service personnel will assist you with your purchase.





Distinctive R Wood Ceramics, Handmade in America


R. Wood Ceramics are absolutely and exquisitely simple and reflect much love and care that goes into making every piece. They are whimsical and playful, somewhat reminiscent of the ceramic ashtrays that children of a bygone era would make at summer camp for their parents. They are entirely distinctive and create an atmosphere of fun and satisfaction. They are suited to be mixed and matched, and look best when combined in a colorful combination.

In an old produce warehouse located in Athens, Georgia, Rebecca Wood started R.Wood studio. Since 1991, it has grown into one of the largest pottery studios in America, where each piece is still entirely made and painted by hand. Renowned for their luscious colors, simple shapes, and inspired by their southern surroundings, they also produce one-of-a kind pieces that are sought after by collectors. The artists at R.wood studio take great pleasure in making dishes they know will bring beauty and enjoyment to their customers for many years to come.

Uniquely Made
All R.Wood dishes continue to be made in Athens, Georgia from NC red clay (AKA terra cotta,) and hand-painted with up to as many as five coats of glazes. Each of their distinctive pieces is slab built by one of their expert artists’ hands, making each piece unique. The glaze is applied by hand, giving the pieces their rich and layered color.

Hearty and Practical
These creations are extremely durable and food-safe, being free of lead and cadmium. They are oven safe, but not microwave safe, as the red clay has iron in it, and the microwave will heat up the iron as it cooks. While dishwasher-cleaning is OK, it’s best to use a natural dish detergent. Hand washing is the recommended method of cleaning.

Selecting Your Dishes
Pick a color or shape that you particularly like, and the rest will simply fall into place. There’s no such thing as a mistake, with these lovely handmade heirlooms. The dinner plates, cereal bowls, latte cups and large bowls are among the most popular R.Wood creations. Often, people will mix and match their R.Wood ceramics. All of the colors are formulated to work well with one another, so again, you can’t go wrong.

The Romance of Lace

Beautiful lace is an amazing creation. What other decorative art form so perfectly captures the essence of both luxury and romance?  Traveling in Europe, I became fascinated with the history, styles and delicacy of lace — its beauty fills a space no other art form has conquered in over 7 centuries. It has survived because its beauty and style have continued to evolve with every generation. And now lace is beginning yet another renaissance. Somehow it balances tradition and an air of quaintness while appearing forever young and delicate (Think brides)!

Its impossible to say exactly where lace-making began, but records show that lace was brought from the trading center of Venice to  Zurich in 1536.  Lace was considered an outrageous concept at the time — cutting holes in expensive fabric? — unheard of!  Oh, those decadent Venetians! But lace caught on like wildfire, and spread across Europe as the latest fashion trend of the time.

By the 1600’s, intricate, high-quality lace was produced across Europe and many amazing styles of lace emerged — each style associated with different lace-making centers in Belgium, France, Switzerland, England, etc. With each succeeding century, lace styles changed to satisfy the needs of fashion for a beautiful, airy embellishment to clothing, linens and drapery.

The industrial revolution and the two world wars delivered huge impacts to lace-making. World War II literally halted lace production in Europe. However, a few lace-making centers were able to return, thanks to nuns who continued their lace-making traditions inside their convents while the war raged on.

While a great deal of inexpensive lace is now mass-produced in China, the traditional art form still survives in a few centers in Europe as well as here in the US.  For example, the lace-makers of St. Gallen, Switzerland are kept busy satisfying the needs of top European designers, such as Chanel, Armani, Dior and Givenchy. And hundreds of craftswomen still maintain local tradition by producing beautiful lace in the primary lace-making centers of Belgium, Bruges and Brussels.

Here in the US, we are so very fortunate to have Heritage Lace. Headquartered in Pella, Iowa, Heritage Lace designs and produces a wonderful array of lace products here in the US. Its important to me to support the efforts of US artisans.

Heritage Lace will launch its new Downton Abbey Collection this spring.   When I saw how the gorgeous Downton Abbey Collection captures the luxury and romance of that wonderful period in English history, I had to bring it home to Ann Marie’s.  Stay tuned to purchase the Heritage Lace Downton Abbey Collection at http://www.annmarie.com/#

Boxing Day Fun

Europe has so many wonderful Holiday traditions. I love choose a few of my favorites and include them in my own festivities. One of my favorites is Boxing Day, a British holiday dedicated to relaxation and fun, on December 26.

On Boxing Day, friends who were busy with their own families on Christmas gather together for an informal buffet of Christmas dinner leftovers and then head out to enjoy their favorite sports. In Britain, the guys might head out to a football match or the race course to catch a few horse races. The gals might head to the park for a leisurely walk or to town to shop for after-Christmas bargains.

The easy informality of Boxing Day makes it fun for all. Why not invite a few friends over for a Boxing Day party?  Plan to offer a simple buffet of Christmas dinner leftovers so everyone can serve themselves. Include sliced bread on the buffet so sandwiches are an option. Consider preparing just one easy British dish — such as Yorkshire pudding or a quick English trifle — to lend that bit of British flair. Then head outside to stretch your legs, breathe some crisp winter air, and enjoy a bit of fun with your pals.

Cheers to you on Boxing Day!


A Magical Irish Afternoon – Love of Nature and Pottery


After spending a magical morning enjoying Kilfane Glen, we continued our tour with an afternoon visit to the old mill which houses the Nicholas Mosse Pottery factory. I noted that the same thoughtfulness and love of nature Nicholas and Susan Mosse expressed through their gardens at Kilfane Glen are also in evidence at the pottery works. Peaceful themes of flowers and natural beauty are woven into both ventures and influence every aspect of their work.

Nick is passionate about working with clay and has developed his own special clay recipe which he uses to make every piece Nicholas Mosse pottery. Susan’s talents show in her lovely designs, which are hand cut into sponges used to decorate the pottery. Together, Nick and Susan have created a unique line of pottery that reflects the beauty of Irish county life and is sought out by pottery collectors around the world.

Each piece of Nicholas Mosse pottery is lovingly made by hand, requiring over 20 steps from start to finish before it can be shipped to us at Ann Marie’s. Throughout the process, Nick and Susan make every effort to use local resources  to stay in harmony with nature. For example, the river which flows behind the pottery works provides the electricity needed to fire the kilns. Their work is truly a reflection of their passions, values and lives. No wonder each piece of Nicholas Mosse pottery is treasured by our customers.

A Magical Irish Morning – Kilfane Glen


When I first saw on a piece of Nicholas Mosse Pottery over 20 years ago, I was completely smitten by its quaint beauty. Discovering this special pottery was the beginning of a wonderful story that would unfold over the years, taking me to beautiful Ireland to meet two amazingly talented and charming Irish potters. I’ve just returned from my second visit to Kilkenny, a place that fills me with child-like wonder. There are many beautiful places in the world, but none I think can compare with the pure “inner” beauty of Ireland.

When my husband Stephan and I arrived at the home of Nicholas and Susan Mosse, we were immediately greeted with warm hospitality by everyone – Nick, Susan, Sophie the poodle and their adorable kitty. On this lovely autumn day, even the apple trees and garden flowers seemed to welcome us. What a happy, inspirational place to live and work. Nick and Susan generously took us on a walk through their property, the magical Kilfane Glen and Waterfall, which is listed as an Irish Heritage Garden. (Yes, its is open to the public at certain times of the year.)

This amazing garden was created the 1790’s, but remained untouched for 200 years before Nick and Susan began its restoration. We fell in love with its green, untamed nature.  Sitting among the streams and rocky paths is a beautifully restored stone cottage, filled with Nick and Susan’s collection of pottery. Some pieces of the collection were made by the Mosses while others are personal favorites they have collected over the years.  To our delight, we were treated to a cup of Irish tea as Nick and Susan shared history of the garden with us.

As we strolled past the waterfall and up the winding path back to the house, I reflected on how fortunate I am to have enjoyed this special place with such lovely hosts. Such a perfect morning!

I invite you to read more about Kilfane Glen and Waterfall at  www.kilfane.com/story.html.