Merry Christmas from Avonlea

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! First of all, let me apologize for not finishing my posts from Paris. Some of you said you enjoyed our photos and sketches have asked when the rest of the trip would be posted. My computer would not let me post from Paris after the first time, so I had good intentions of finishing when I got home. Then Life intervened. I had health issues and have just last month gotten back up to speed.

That being said, the Cafe Sketchers are back. We had 3 meet-ups in December, but it’s such a busy time, nobody finished their sketches! However, our last meet-up, last week, was at Avonlea Antique Mall which was all decorated for Christmas. Susie, the owner, wanted me to send our sketches to her for her FB page which I did. She was thrilled and wants us to demonstrate next time! What fun. I’m sharing some of the finished sketches.



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Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and blessed New Year. Thank you for following.   Mary Ann

Sweet Street Sketchers in Paris

Bonjour! We’re not the Sippers this time for those of you who follow this, but we three – Carolyn, Sandi and Mary Ann – are the Sweet Street Sketchers in Paris. Our flat is just off the Rue du Bac which is called “Sweet Street” because of the vast number of patisseries and chocolate shops on it. And we intend to try them all!


Sketching before we took off from Jacksonville to JFK…


On the plane – did we really go over Africa to get to Paris? I think not…


When we arrived, we got up to our 4th floor flat in our tiny elevator!


Still early in the day (Paris time), so we made a grocery list and found the fruit market,  cheese shop, bakery, florist and Franprix (supermarket). The best thing was the fresh squeezed orange juice machine, a small bottle for just one euro.



While Carolyn went to the American Church, Sandi and I found the first pastry shop and had an eclair and coffee.






We came home, sketched and, too tired to cook, had a wonderful supper at the Italian restaurant next door. In bed by 9:30. (Sketches finished later…)

Sunday. After Carolyn and Sandi figured out how to get there on the bus, we attended a  church service at Notre Dame, then went in search of La Charlotte de l’Isle, a tea room also famous for their hot chocolate.



On the way we found the famous Berthillon ice cream with the line down the street. Of course we had to try it.


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While at Charlotte drinking our chocolate we met 3 lovely ladies from Seattle, Jeannette, Terry and Mary, and had a nice conversation in English.

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And yes, it was so thick it had to be eaten with a spoon – which BTW, kept us wired most of the night!




Home and Finished Sketches

It is June, but I have finally finished the sketchbook from the Great Southwest Road Trip. Just in time for my next adventure… Instead of writing much, I will let my sketchbook pages speak for themselves, beginning with the first and leaving out the ones I have previously posted. I hope you enjoy them.

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Here is where we were when I left off last, in Beaver, Utah. From there we traveled to the beautiful Salt Lake City where we heard the magnificent Morman Tabernacle Choir broadcast their 4,624th program of “Music and the Spoken Word.” They have been broadcasting every week since 1929! Amazing. We heard them several years ago on our trip to Yellowstone so we planned this trip to be there on a Sunday. Well worth it (and free). There were so many flowers blooming around Temple Square I could only take pictures to paint later.




Then we drove out to the Great Salt Lake, and, yes, that is a bison on the beach… and someone had built a labyrinth.




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And home sweet home. It was so good to see green trees, green grass, the ocean. I didn’t realize how much I missed it all until there wasn’t any. It was a great trip, but we should have done it 20 years ago. Traveling is hard. That being said, stay tuned for the Sweet Street Sketchers coming to you from Paris in September…

What Day Is It and Where Are We?

It is Day 11, and we are in the tiny town of Beaver, Utah. Since I last wrote we have visited 4 National Parks as well as one on the Navaho Reservation. I have sketched, but not painted so I will post them when I do. Remember…Georgia didn’t paint until she got home. Today is an easy day, though, so I have good intentions…. I’ll post a few photos, though, because I know you are waiting with baited breath – and so I don’t lose track….

We began the week, Sunday, at the Grand Canyon. Finally used our Sr. Passes for National Parks. We have saved $120 in entrance fees now ($30 at each park) – pretty good return on a $20 investment. If you don’t have one, now’s the time to get it. The Canyon was magnificent – even though we had seen it some years ago from a helicopter. In the movie at the Visitor’s Center we saw the/an “artist-in-residence” at the park doing a plain air painting. What a job to have…IMG_5411.jpgIMG_5413.jpgIMG_5433.jpgIMG_5418.jpg

The colors were gorgeous, but as we went further up we began to have trouble breathing. I was so glad to see they had a defibrillator at one of the stops!IMG_5423.jpgIMG_5419.jpg


Monday, we left Grand Canyon Village and traveled to Page, AZ, where we toured the unbelievably beautiful Antelope Canyon on the Navaho Reservation. It is a slot canyon, very small to walk inside, but words or pictures cannot describe it adequately. If I were an abstract painter, I would begin a series here.


We almost didn’t get here. Because it is on Navaho land, visitors are not permitted without a guide.  I had called several tour companies the day before, all saying they were completely booked up. Gary went on line and found a spot with “Chief Tsosie.” When we got there he told us someone had left “cremains” in the canyon the night before so no tour companies were going in until it had been cleansed. He felt like people had already walked past to find it, so he elected to take his group (us) in. We were the only ones there, and afterwards he played the pipes for us. As we headed back to the bus, someone was coming in with firewood to get ready for the medicine man’s cleansing that night.IMG_5471.jpgIMG_5477.jpgIMG_5482.jpgIMG_5499.jpgIMG_5505.jpgIMG_5528.jpgIMG_5549.jpgIMG_5547.jpg

We spent the night in Cortez, CO, to go to 4 Corners – where all 4 states meet, but it was closed by the time we got there. We returned the next morning, Tuesday, before heading on out to Moab, CO, where we spent our 53rd anniversary and toured Mesa Verde National Park.


I asked the ranger, “Are we going all the way up there?’ He said yes. It was a hairy ride. This was probably my least favorite park. “Verde” means “green,” but everything was brown. The earth is parched and dry, and there is still lots of burned land from fires in 2002. We saw the pit homes of the early people and then the cliff dwellings as they developedIMG_5584.jpgIMG_5580.jpg

As we are not hikers, we did not get up close to the cliff dwellings. This was a description of one of the tours and following is our view of it from as close as possible for us.IMG_5807.jpgIMG_5598.jpgIMG_5593.jpg

Wednesday, we got into Utah and visited Arches National Park. I loved it! The rocks were so big and the natural formations so amazing. I kept thinking of Georgia’s paintings looking through a hole in a bone.IMG_5762.jpgIMG_5778.jpgIMG_5740.jpg

We did not go into the “Fiery Furnace.”



And, I am up to today, Thursday, after seeing the most gorgeous one of all (after Antelope Canyon), Bryce Canyon. I’ve never seen rocks that glowed! The pictures will speak for themselves.


And there are always some tourists who seem to value a picture more than life…IMG_5820.jpgIMG_5819.jpg

We’ve had wonderful, cool, sunny weather. For those of you who’ve asked me where we are, this was for you. For all the rest who are bored with other people’s travel pictures, I apologize. I will try to post some sketches some time soon, but if not, later. Thanks for following anyway.

Road Trip – Day 5: Santa Fe NM

Today is a rest day and a good time to catch up – with my sketchbook, laundry and rest.  We left home in Jacksonville, FL, on Monday and drove 10 hours to Jackson Mississippi. Florida is so green, I didn’t realize until yesterday how much I appreciate it. We stopped in Tallahassee and drove by my childhood home – I think they were finally tearing out the bomb shelter that had been built next door in the 50s. We traveled through Alabama and into Mississippi, and I just sketched in the car. Tomorrow I’ll add paint.

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Tuesday we crossed Louisiana and into the huge state of Texas. The wildflowers along the sides of the road were beautiful, and we fell in love with What-a-Burger – $6 for 2 hamburgers and 2 drinks! We’re all about being economical on this trip! The best deal of the trip so far was tonight when we spotted a local donut shop and went up to the window to buy 2. Two. She was closing so she gave us a big bag of assorted chocolate filled cremes for just $1.50!! I didn’t eat them all. Just sayin’.


Wednesday. Still in Texas nearly all day. We started with Texas shaped waffles at our Best Western and saw nothing all day but oil wells, cactus and windmills. And, sadly, flags at half-staff for Barbara Bush. Plans were to go to Carlsbad Caverns tomorrow morning, but we found out from some people at supper that the elevators were out of order, and there was no way to get down except for walking down 750′. And of course, back up. Think of a 75-story building with no elevator. So…on to Santa Fe where we are now.


The drive was bleak, desolate, flat and brown. Abandoned buildings and junk yards. But we passed through Roswell, the UFO Capital of the World – does anyone remember them? and many businesses had little green aliens out front.


Today we had planned to go to Taos, but high winds and rain were predicted. Went to Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – got in on a great tour. I learned that she never painted when she traveled but always when she got home. Hummm……  I also learned most of her paintings were never signed as she said “it would be like writing on my face.” The museum had the only one she signed, a very early one.


I enjoyed seeing some of sketches too – not that much different from the ones I tried to do in my pocket at Abiquiu…. and that’s another story.


Wandered around downtown around the Plaza and stopped for a prickly pear (cactus) lemonade. Delicious, very sweet. Visited the Loretto Chapel and saw the miraculous staircase. I’ve been exhausted today just walking around. I didn’t understand until I realized we were at 7,200′ elevation.

OK, it really is Day 6. I didn’t get this finished yesterday. We left Santa Fe this morning and drove to and through the Petrified Forest. My favorite part of the 28-mile drive through was the Painted Desert, just stunning, and Gary loved all the huge petrified wood logs just lying around.



Bye for now. We’re having a wonderful time – and glad we made this trip before we got any older!

Eat, Drink, Sketch and Be Mary!

Cafe Sketchers gathered at Hamburger Mary’s last week and had a grand time.  Walter, the manager, opened an hour early  just for us, and C.J. was our very cheerful and dishy waiter who attended to our every need.  The light was low, but there was oh so much fun to draw.


The light was low, but there was oh so much fun to draw.






The menu was extensive, but most of us wanted one of the hamburger choices. The  Mary Burger and “Ta-tas” (Tater Tots) was huge and delicious, big enough to split.IMG_5126.jpgmam.jpeg


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We’ll be back for another burger – you should try it! This was our last regular Meetup for awhile. We all need a break sometimes, and I’m leaving on a road trip to the Southwest.  A few of us will be at The Spot Cafe in St. Augustine next Wednesday, but we will have visitors from Tallahassee, so we may just visit….  See you in a few months. And keep sketching.



Sketching at European Street

Nine regular cafe sketchers and one junior sketcher met at European Street at Jax Beach and had a wonderful morning. Jackie’s granddaughter, Molly Rose, joined us. all.jpg

From the hydrangeas in the window to the delicious food, there were delightful things to draw and paint. Just take a look:

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Bye, see you next week.

The Mini Bar – Donut miss it!

Sketchers discovered a wonderful place has opened in Jax Beach: The Mini Bar serving hot donuts only. 3 tiny donuts make up about 1 regular donut, and the flavors are incredible.




Everywhere you looked there was something fun to draw – and to eat. Sketchers did well in both departments.







You really should! I’ll be back for sure.


Barnes and Noble Hosts Sketchers

Last week Sketchers met up at Barnes and Noble at Town Center. Some chose to work in the restaurant and have coffee while sketching, others were drawn to the delightful children’s section.











Then for lunch, spinach and artichoke quiche or a tomato Caprese on ciabatta. And shopping for books. Next week we’ll be at another new place at the beach – The Mini Bar (donuts only!).






Sketching Florida Cracker Kitchen

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A new restaurant in Jacksonville, and it was slammed! (I took this picture when it was closed.) I thought the portions last week were huge, but the plates here were enormous – and just as good as they were big!


Enormous burritos, shrimp and grits, shrimp salad, cinnamon rolls and even….mimosas!

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P.S. Thanks to Carolyn, our resident “Swedish” artist, for her commentary at IKEA. Our group is having a “fika.”

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Next week: Barnes and Noble.