Friday, August 31, 2007

Secret Shadows

Today it is 77 degrees with bright blue skies. A day when no matter what your schedule is, you must eat at least one meal outside. 

I just went out to the patio to check on the roses and needless to say, they are happy. 

Look at the interesting shadows you can see through the rose petals. This variety is called "Secret."

Read Books for Free!

Okay, seriously, have you been to the library lately? Sure, libraries have "book club" books, but have you seen the selection of "coffee table" books? I can always find beautiful titles on roses, photography, travel, design - plus way more cookbooks than I can possibly own myself. And don't forget about my favorite medium: magazines! I just checked out a stack of back issues if the tech magazine Wired. Most big libraries allow online accounts for searching & reserving titles. The system will initiate a transfer of the book to you from another branch, then notify you by email when it arrives. No small feat and so convenient. Check it out...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

Isn't this beautiful!? A visit to Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, FL is not complete without a meal at the Cornell Cafe (showcased as one of the best museum restaurants in America by the Food Network). 

Lunch is in an open-air cafe on the terrace overlooking the gardens. I simply loved every minute of my visit.

 What did I buy at the museum shop? A clear acrylic flower "frog" to support stems in a vase - a modern design for an old-fashioned item. 

On your next "spring break," try to visit Morikami...

Blueberry Chutney

I'm the last one to want to rush into Fall, but today was a bit
rainy and pork chops sounded really good. How to meld summer fruits with a fall mood? Chutney! I've made this homemade sauce a few times and it is delicious. So, if you have a carton or 2 of blueberries in your fridge, get to it!

Blueberry Chutney
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. white sugar
1 c. chopped red onion
few shakes of garlic powder
few shakes of hot pepper flakes
light sprinkle of cinnamon
1 t. chopped ginger (from jar is fast & easy)
light sprinkle of ground coriander
2-3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup golden raisins

Bring above to a boil and then simmer for 20 min. Add 2-3 cups of fresh blueberries and 1/2 c. of golden raisins. Simmer for 15 min. Enjoy! Can be stored tightly covered in refrigerator for 1 week.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Little Bear Baked Goods

"Little Bear Baked Goods" - now would that name cause you to do a u-turn, or what?

I saw a sign at the narrows in Glen Arbor and turned around to investigate. It sounded so cute, I knew that I wanted whatever they were baking.

And I was right - huge chewy peanut butter pecan cookies. I am going to experiment with recipes and share one soon, I promise. 

This photo is taken south of Glen Arbor at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Can you see the 3 tiny white barns in a row? This picture would make a great puzzle! 

Beeswax Votives

I was out & about on Saturday adding details to my "Leelanau Tour #4" and I was lucky to arrive at my favorite beeswax place, Beedazzled, while they were making candles. 

The sweet aroma of these votives is one of my favorite scents - they truly smell like honey. Plus the garden out front is lovely. When you walk on the path, your footsteps crush the herbal ground cover and your walk becomes scented. This is delight.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Magazines By Month

I want to share a tip with you for your magazine collection. We all save the magazines we love, right? They are a mini-resource for life - recipes, decorating projects, holiday parties. I store my magazines by month (shown here is my collection of Country Living magazines for November). 

That way, when I am looking for seasonal inspiration, I can pull out a whole section for a season or holiday. The recipes, garden themes, absolutely everything applies. It works so well for me that I had to share. Enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Do ewe knit?

Want to meet new people? My advice is to learn to knit. 

Every time I bring knitting along to the airport, people talk to me. Some nod their approval, some stare with facination and others simply give in and ask me something. 

I taught a woman to knit in a hospital waiting room...she then proceeded to call her sister in California to proclaim that she finally "got it."  And gave her a little grief by saying, "How come you couldn't teach me this!?"

If you are looking for a neat twist on knitting, check out these Denise Knitting Needles. They are interchangeable plastic needles of varying sizes that twist onto the end of different length circular cords. It has every combination of needle size/cord length you might need all in one travel-friendly set. 

Ewe should check it out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

McCartney Rose

The McCartney Rose , named for Paul McCartney in honor of his 50th birthday, is new to my garden this year and has been just amazing. 

With vibrant pink buds and a heady fragrance, this is the rose that makes people say "Ohhhh..." 

It is shown to advantage alone, so I like to put a single stem in a vase made from a Voss water bottle. 

Now, I wonder if I can get a rose named after me?

Oilcloth Knitting Case

Do we really neeed patterns? 

Yes, of course, but sometimes you can come up with the neatest projects all on your own. I wanted to make my niece a Knitting Needle case with this really cute oil cloth fabric. 

Let's should be a trifold with velcro closure - check. It should have a slot for really long needles and a crochet hook - check. It should have a velcro tab to hang circular needles from - check. It should have a pocket for a tapestry needle and tiny scissors - check. 

Oh, joy! I love this and I made the entire thing by instinct. Hmmm...I should have made 2!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse was built in 1858 and is situated at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula near Northport (Holding your left hand palm down, the lighthouse would be at the tip of your pinkie finger).

This was a beautiful and extremely quiet day in late July. When I arrived, all I could think of was painting. 

Where was my travel paint set when I needed it? The only sound I could hear was the water washing over the rocks. Who needs wireless when you have soundless? Ahhh...peace and quiet.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sweet Peach Pound Cake

I thought that it sounded good, sure, but who knew how delicious Sweet Peach Pound Cake would be?

I love baking and have an entire section of pound cake recipes collected in my baking notebook. 

Well, everyone ate 2 pieces of this beauty last night, quite a triumph in today's "Oh no, none for me" world.

I am very happy with this recipe and I hope that you give it a try with some fresh August peaches - yum! The recipe is here at

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Woodward Dream Cruise

1.7 Million people are expected to "cruise" Woodward Avenue today in the suburbs of Detroit. So far the weather has been beautiful and I've enjoyed being a part of it all. Lots of cold pop, live music and classic cars. What did I notice? Everyone was happy...talking, taking pictures and reminiscing. How wonderful.

Morning, Glory!

By now you know how I feel about flowers...right? Well, I am wondering about you. Have you ever grown Morning Glories

This variety is called "Heavenly Blue" and is, by far, my favorite. In the Spring you have to can start from seed and have teeny green sprouts winding their way up bamboo skewers in your kitchen or you can go find healthy established plants at the garden center and plant them outside right away.

I plant mine in a pot and string clear fishing line between the skewers and a row of clear push pins attached to the trim of the house. They quickly grow up the line and are a pretty way to add height & color to a patio area. 

My grandfather used to cover the sunny side of the house with chicken wire and plant morning glories all along the base. Weeks later he had a solid wall of green vines and triumphant blue flowers and my mom remembers the day that the newspaper came to photograph his grand display.  Now that is sharing delight!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Candy Cakes

My sugar “cake” has captured the imagination of the 10-year-old girls in my neighborhood. 

Every so often the doorbell rings and 3 smiling faces ask if they can see the “candy cake.”  They think it is sheer genius that I built a cake made of candy to display in my kitchen. 

It is the kind of art they can understand. It is the kind of art they want. 

They never tire of looking at it and they check back often to make sure that it is “real.” Lots of things I create garner attention, but nothing is quite like what I see in the eyes of these girls.

Healthy Living

Being "healthy" and being "organized" go hand-in-hand in my book. We all need a place to record medical info - your current eyeglass prescription, when your last tetanus shot was, the dosage of your allergy medicine...but where do you keep these records? I was so happy to discover a Medical Records template in the Healthy Living section of Practical and complete...just what I was looking for. Thanks, Martha.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Red & White Packaging

I have always thought that grocery shopping was fun. I love to cook and bake and try. But I also like how everything looks. 

Remember when I bought those salts at Eastern Market just because the packaging was shell pink & soft blue. 

I photographed my own little collage of red & white packaging at my friend's grocery store...isn't it cool?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Glory of Collecting

Do you have a collection? Usborne Book of Collecting Things (How to Make) is a bright and fun salute to searching, displaying and enjoying small object collections (stamps, coins, shells, buttons). 

Geared toward kids, I recommend this book because of the vivid photographs - full of color, graphics and playful displays. Leave this book on the coffee table and just wait for the conversations to bubble up. I simply love it.

Monday, August 13, 2007


My birthday is August 20th, but I actually received my birthday present from my parents back in May. We went to the nursery together and picked out roses for my new rose bed. It was a fun field trip and a wonderful birthday gift. This rose is called "Secret" and it has been saying Happy Birthday to me all summer long.

Blueberry Gateau

Blueberry Gateau...I have been making this recipe for years courtesy of Country Living magazine and a feature they did on Blueberry Hill Inn in Vermont. The recipe is published on their website here - you should really try it. It is a thin chewy cake with pockets of fresh blueberries. I make it several times a Summer and people love it. Great in the morning, perfect with tea, wonderful after dinner on the deck. Enough reasons? Plus, it is fun to say gateau.

gâ·teau Function: noun Etymology: French, from Old French gastel, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Old English wist sustenance, food
1 : food baked or served in the form of a cake 2 : a rich or fancy cake

Pewabic Pottery Event

Yesterday was the Pewabic Pottery Annual Antique & Contemporary Art Tile Fair in Detroit. The event was held on the grounds of the Tudor Revival style building that has been home to Pewabic Tile for the last 100 years! The building is a National Historic Landmark and is Michigan's only historic pottery. It was interesting to see the glazes, motifs and themes in the artists' work at the contemporary tile event (lots of dragonflies, birds & branches). What surprised me the most wasn't made of tile. Well, not really. It was a scale model of the building Lego. It even has a bird's eye view of the craftman making little vessels. Amazing. If you are ever drawn to this historic landmark, buy a few tiles, soak up some history and then go upstairs in the museum to check out an entirely different kind of art.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Can Cats Be Creative?

There has been many a time that I have wanted to lay down in the middle of all of my buttons and ribbons and thread, oh my! 

I love it all so much. But who knew that cats could feel the same way? This little darling, aptly named "Sequin", is right at home in her artist owner's studio. 

When I was visiting one day, this is what I found. I just had to show you. And doesn't it make you want to display your thread in glass jars? Love it!

Needle Arts Mentor

Attention those who love to Knit, Crochet, Cross-Stitch, Needlepoint...

I wrote this piece for the Needle Arts Mentoring Program to help generate interest in their national program that encourages adults to volunteer to teach children the needle arts. Interested?

When I learned of the Needle Arts Mentoring Program (N.A.M.P.) and realized that my niece, Heather’s Brownie Troop was a perfect fit for the program, I jumped at the chance to enroll as a mentor. I’d embroidered quilt squares at 7, tried latch hook at 8 and taught myself needlepoint at 12. As part of a gifted & talented program, I received high school credit for completing 140 hours of cross-stitch during my junior year. I know and love the needle arts and it was time to start sharing my knowledge.

After lemonade & brownies, nine seven-year-old girls sat in a circle and looked at me. For most, “knitting” meant nothing more to them than something their Grandma did. Samantha, however, was a knitter. She knew the agenda for this Brownie meeting and was prepared. As she clicked the latch on her knitting case, she explained that she had received it for her birthday and that it held her “supplies.” She pulled out 2 plastic needles that held 3 inches of garter stitch in neon pink. Hallelujah, I thought, this will help the girls to see that knitting is within their reach.

I started with the basics. I gave each girl a ball of yarn, 2 super cute wooden needles, 2 rubber point protectors and a “How to Knit” instruction book all generously supplied by the N.A.M.P. I began by teaching them a rhyme that will sound familiar:

In through the window,
Run around back,
Up from the basement,
And off jumps Jack.

Around that time, my Mom arrived with my eleven-year-old niece, Emily, to help with the class. I had taught Emily to knit the year before and she loves it. I knew that both of them would be a big help answering questions and offering guidance to the girls. What I did not realize was that Emily’s testimonial about knitting would win the girls over. She rattled off the things she had made and the things that she was working on and in a few short minutes became a celebrity in the eyes of these girls. My Mom, Emily & I were helping the girls one-on-one and sure enough, they started to knit. Dropped stitches, crazy holes, super tight sections, but they were knitting. And the girls started to ask “Can I have Emily next?” My guest knitter was in demand and her encouragement was what these girls wanted. It was wonderful.

If you know how to knit, crochet or needlepoint, I urge you to enroll in the Needle Arts Mentoring program and help give children the lifelong gift of being able to entertain themselves. Teach them a skill that gives them beautiful, tangible results that they can be proud of and watch them explore the endless possibilities within the needle arts.

Contact for more information

Friday, August 10, 2007

Farmers Market

I love to shop farmer's markets for fresh fruits & vegetables, local honey, and of course, to take pictures. This photo was taken in Manhattan at the Union Square Greenmarket.
Want to find a listing of all the farmer's markets near you? Click this link to find a list by zip code at Local
What was the neatest thing I bought this day? A beeswax Christmas tree ornament in the shape of an angel.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lawn Tickets

I love when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs their summer concert series outdoors. I pack a picnic dinner and spend the evening listening to Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and Glinka. It is a lovely way to spend an evening outdoors. A favorite recipe for picnics is a layered salad in individual wide mouth jam jars - so pretty and easy to transport. I saw the recipe in Southern Living magazine - see link above.

Tea Towels as Art

I have always loved April Cornell tea towels. They have great color combinations, are a thick waffle weave and wash like a dream. 

But do I use dishtowels for dishes? No, not always.  Sometimes I use them as art. I fold them in stacks and display them in the china cupboard, or arrange them in a wire basket near the kitchen sink, or stretch them on a frame. 

The lovely peach & salmon tea towel shown in this photo usually hangs from a hook on the rack in the distance and adds a lovely touch of fabric and color to a quiet corner.

My Italian grapefruit soda bottle and "Abraham Darby" english roses match perfectly!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Birthday Month

My birthday is this month and since I like to celebrate all 31 days in August, I thought I'd show you a lovely birthday dessert. Cold ice cream, edible flowers and a dusting of powdered sugar. Shouldn't everything be dusted with powdered sugar? I have been baking a lot this week...Cherry Clafoutis (again!), Pineapple Upside-down cake, Nama's Icebox Coffeecake, and I still have plans for a Sweet Peach Poundcake! Yum.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sleeping Bear

The legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes follows the story of a mother bear and her two cubs crossing Lake Michigan in the winter when the lake is frozen solid. The story is that the mother bear made it to shore and fell asleep (Sleeping Bear) waiting for her two cubs to arrive. They never made it, but found their resting place just offshore, as the North & South Manitou Islands. This photo was taken at sunset from the Sleeping Bear National Park with South Manitou island in the distance.