Monday, March 31, 2008

Robin's Egg Blue

Isn't this a pretty sign of Spring? This nest was part of the Macy's flower show in Chicago and I think it captures the essence of the season. In honor of April and the first signs of Spring, I just put out a dish of pale blue robin's egg-shaped soaps in our first floor powder room. They are scented with chamomile and I just love them. Follow my lead and get out the pretty soaps this week...and use them! Happy Spring.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mochi Ice Cream

I first had green tea ice cream at the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens' outdoor cafe. I ordered mochi ice cream and received 2 balls of ice cream (one green tea & one red bean paste) wrapped in a raw sugar-dusted dough. Strange and fun, I ate every drop of the ice cream. You can make your own green tea ice cream with a recipe from the Food Network or better yet, you can now get it from Haagen-Dazs! Want to go all out? Make your favorite teriyaki salmon, sticky rice and steamed broccoli then serve 2 scoops of green tea ice cream on a pretty dish for dessert. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Shell Seekers

Earlier this month, I wrote about making a shadow box to display your shell collection and I titled it "Shell Seekers."

So many friends said, "Oh...The Shell Seekers!" knowing that it is one of my favorite books by Rosamunde Pilcher.

Have you read it? It is set in Cornwall, England and spans a family over 3 generations. It is filled with love, family lore and friends stopping by for tea. 

I always tend to reread it in March when I am longing for the garden and picnics on enamelware plates. In one of the opening scenes, Penelope Keeling straightens the kitchen after breakfast and then heads out into the garden to check on her roses. It is my kind of fiction! 
I'm including a photo from my shell seeking. Can you see the white shell near the bottom that is filled with bubbles from the last ocean wave? So pretty.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Swiss Miss

In 1897, Mark Twain wrote of Weggis, Switzerland..."this is the most charming place we have ever lived in for repose and restfulness." I couldn't agree more. Set in the Swiss Alps on Lake Lucerne, Weggis is a lovely place to stay during a European vacation.
Travel from town to town via paddle steamer from April to October and end a day of hiking with a gourmet meal at the Beau Rivage Hotel. The entire area looks like a children's train set - lush green hills, lakes, mountains and picturesque villages. Oh, I must return to Switzerland...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Dishtowels

Want to brighten up the kitchen? Pull out some of your most coveted dishtowels and enjoy them! Hang one on the oven handle. Drape one on the sink. The kitchen can be too practical sometimes...make it special instead. Some of my favorite dishtowels are by Xochi and April Cornell. I have been collection dishtowels for years - shown here is just a sampling. See the pink one in the middle? That is a Xochi with pastel cherries on it and in the spirit of "using what we love" I am going to listen to my own advice and use it tomorrow. Palmolive anyone?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chocolate Eggs

Okay, so these are not the typical "chocolate eggs" you find at Easter, but aren't they magnificent? I was lucky enough to spend Easter in Paris one year and the chocolatiers pulled out all the stops. The large egg is at least 18" tall and is embedded with whole almonds, pistachios and pine nuts - yum! I'm sure a lucky French family had it as a centerpiece for their Easter brunch. Make sure you indulge in a chocolate egg or two yourself tomorrow. I hope you have a lovely holiday filled with family & friends.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bunny Buns

I have been making these darling "bunny buns" for years. I first saw them featured in an ad for a frozen roll company, but I make them with a tube of Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits from the refrigerator section.

One biscuit is the face, use a glass to cut another biscuit into 2 ears, and take a small piece of leftover dough for the nose. Pop two raisins in for eyes, bake for 8 minutes at 450* and you've got bunny buns!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Candy

I like when things are simple and these coconut nests. With Easter being so early this year, I feel like we are all a little behind in our preparations. Today & tomorrow, I will share some easy touches that will make your Easter even cuter.

Coconut Nests: (3 ingredients and 10 min to make!)
Melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl by microwaving a 1/2 bag of semisweet chocolate chips for 30 seconds - stir. Microwave for 30 more seconds - stir. The chocolate should be melted and smooth, if not, microwave for 10 more seconds.
Stir in 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes.
Make each nest by arrange a heaping tablespoon of chocolate mixture on a Silpat sheet or waxed paper lined cookie sheet.
Nestle 3 jelly beans inside each nest.
Place in freezer for 10 minutes to set.
Thank you Easter Bunny!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Country Living Women Entrepreneurs: Make Mine Pink

The ladies of Make Mine Pink show what connection & collaboration are all about. I have seen their pretty pink ads in my favorite magazines for years. I have even browsed the MMP website platform that features links to the over 130 online businesses. But it wasn't until I met a bunch of these women at the Country Living Women Entrepreneur event (their founder, Joyce Lucas was being honored) that I understood that they are a community. Owning your own business is a lot of work - there are inventory, internet and advertising decisions to be made every day, often with no one to consult. With advice, support and a friendly word, the entrepreneurs of Make Mine Pink strive to succeed and encourage each other in their business endeavors. Now that is the entrepreneurial spirit.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Country Living Women Entrepreneurs Part 2

While I was in Chicago, my friend Maggie took me to the Macy's (State St.) Floranova Flower Show that is open now through March 30th. The entire first floor of the store is transformed with vibrant botanical garden displays inspired by Latin America. This hydrangea and maidenhair fern grouping was my favorite. What I didn't anticipate was the heavenly scent - orchids and lilies were everywhere and it really made it feel like Easter.

Country Living Women Entrepreneurs Part 2:
The "Make the Web Work For Your Business" panel discussion was led by Susan Mernit (Blogger & Yahoo Product Developer) and featured designer & blogger
Heather Bailey, Beth Ferreira from Etsy (online marketplace for handmade items), and the team of Ann Fox & Donna King from a favorite catalog/website of mine, Room Service Home. The takeaway points were these: Make sure that your website tells your story and differentiates you from your competition. Use great photographs to represent your brand online and consider having your media kit available as a downloadable pdf. They all felt that a blog was a great way to humanize an online store and that blog activity helps with page relevancy and link rank. It was a great discussion and I left with a page full of notes and a brand new "to do" list.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Country Living Women Entrepreneurs Part 1

What a day! 600 women from 40 states attended the 3rd Annual Country Living Women Entrepreneurs event at the Renaissance Hotel in Chicago. The day began with Country Living Editor-in-Chief, Nancy Soriano interviewing the delightful Anna Griffin, of Anna Griffin Inc. What originated as a stationary brand, Anna Griffin Inc. now licenses over 1,000 products from wedding invitations and paper goods to fabric and formal china. As a successful entrepreneur with a strong brand identity, Anna was the perfect choice for the "Lunch with a Leader" session. She came with a strong marketing message for the attendees and emphasized that a brand is "a promise to your customer." She stressed the importance of marketing our businesses with a consistent message. Her advice was to make a PR schedule (media call cycle, press releases, e-newsletters) and stick to it, including photographs whenever possible to reinforce the brand. During the coffee break, I was able to meet Anna and let her know about my company. I was able to tell her that I had sent an Anna Griffin product (a darling peony-print paper mailbox) as a Subscribe To Delight gift back in 2006...after all, she knows delight!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Why do I have a blog? I started this blog almost a year ago to show you delight. My gift subscription company, Subscribe To Delight, mails gift-wrapped surprises to women all over the country. Little things that are pretty, fragrant, delicious or fun. I send things that are worth talking about...things you would want to show your friends.
My job is a little like being the tooth fairy. Women are usually planning the surprises...I think it is high time they get surprised with a bit of whimsy themselves.

That is delight.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Little Birdie...

Every once in a while, I like to combine interesting elements into a box top collage. This little birdie needed only a glitter snowflake and chartreuse-stripe ribbon to make her quest for chocolate milk seem almost normal. I keep her on a small glass table in my living room where she seems content to wait for Spring. I have been trying to decide what to keep in the box under the is almost like a secret compartment, so it has got to be good.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cherry Pound Cake Frosting

Yum! It turned out just as I had imagined. The pale pink cream cheese frosting is perfect for this light cherry pound cake cake...enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 oz each) pkgs cream cheese, softened 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened 2 c. powdered sugar 2 t. vanilla extract 3 drops of red food coloring
Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and red food coloring and mix well.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cherry Pound Cake

I have a delicious new recipe for you. Maraschino Cherry Pound Cake (a.k.a Shirley Temple Pound Cake). I made it tonight in an large egg-shaped pan and the pale pink batter makes it perfect for Eastertime. I am trying out a homemade cream cheese frosting tomorrow and will post a photo. Note: This cake is delicious as don't actually need to frost it. Bake it in a pretty pan and then dust it with powdered sugar for a light touch.

Cherry Pound Cake
1 c. butter
1/2 c. Crisco
3 c. white sugar
6 eggs
1 (10 oz) jar maraschino cherries
2 t. of cherry syrup (reserve from jar)
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
3 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. skim milk

Beat butter & Crisco with electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Drain (reserve 2 T. cherry syrup) and chop cherries. Add cherries, reserved syrup and the extracts to the batter and mix. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt together. Turn mixer on low and alternately add some of the flour mixture to the batter, then some milk. Repeat until all flour and milk is mixed into the batter. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan (or Wilton's 3-D Egg pan) and bake at 300* for 1 hour & 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mother Bunny

I treasure this Mother Bunny in her crisp apron and gingham dress. I bring her out every Easter to give her the attention she deserves. I found her at a confectionery in Switzerland years ago - she came sitting atop a bag of chocolates. I remember a shelf of hand-carved characters and I chose her. I only wish now that I had bought the entire series when I had the chance. I have her sitting in a nest of pink paper grass and Brach's robins egg malted milk balls - my favorite candy to have on display at Easter. So pretty.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Big Idea

Next Friday, I fly to Chicago for Country Living magazine's Women Entrepreneur "Celebration of Creativity" conference. I have had many women contact me for advice on how to "Pitch Your Product" and I hope to make a short YouTube video with tips and encouragement. I believe that an important part of being a woman entrepreneur is sharing thoughts and ideas to encourage others in their business dreams. It is why I enjoy this conference so much - the ideas are flying! I will post a summary with pictures when I return, okay? Speaking of pitching...have you been watching "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch?" This show features one-on-one interviews with entrepreneurs that have achieved the American Dream. The highs and lows of being a start up. The first big sale. Branding. And now they have a segment called "The Elevator Pitch," where you watch an actual pitch on closed circuit television - it is genius. It is also a must-see if you want to start your own business. Come on, you know you want to.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Inspiration Board

Inspiration boards are a fun way to capture what is beautiful to you. Interior Decorators & Designers couldn't work without a place to capture the mood and colors of the project. I'd like to suggest that you capture the mood and colors of your life. It is as easy as getting a magnetic board (like this one at IKEA) and some cute magnets. Hang it where you can see it every day and tweak it often. A postcard from friend in California, a recipe card written by your Grandmother, a pretty seed packet, a page from your favorite magazine - the sky's the limit. Think of it as modern scrapbooking.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Edible Flowers

March is "garden planning" month and I'd like to suggest that you shake things up a bit this Spring. Plant some edible flowers and plan on one beautiful salad after another. Yes, you can add nasturtiums to a green salad. The petals are a beautiful orange color and have a peppery watercress-like flavor. Or plant some pansies and make an appetizer (Alouette cheese on celery with a halved grape tomato, a sprig of parsley & a pansy) that your book club will be talking about for years. Baking this Easter? How about your favorite lemon cake scattered with crystallized pansies & violas from Sur La Table. Would you like to read more about edible flowers? This site tells you everything you need to know. Spring is coming...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Shell Seekers

Have you ever brought back a pocketful of treasures from the beach but weren't sure what to do with them? How about making a shadow box? This sage fabric-covered shadow box is available at Michael's in the Martha Stewart Craft section (or online here). I lined the bottom with adhesive cork (to look like sand) and then held the shells in place with 3-D adhesive Zots. I didn't find all of these treasures on a beach walk, but I definitely got them "in Florida." Surf's up!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Blue Room

I call my decorating style "Swedish Beach House." I love plate racks, painted furniture and oval back chairs. I also love the soothing colors of the sea...shades of blue, sea glass & sand. I referred to my display of Spode "Blue Room" china yesterday and I wanted to show you how it turned out. The blue wall is actually wallpapered to look like paint - it shows a grain as if it was painted with a stiff brush and I love it. I have been collecting these dishes for years, but what "makes" this display is a series of Dutch houses made of paper and filled with candy. They do not have any markings on them, but I distinctly remember the packaging boasting that they had won an award in design. My own little paper neighborhood...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lion or Lamb?

You know how March comes "in like a lion & out like a lamb" or "in like a lamb, out like a lion." Well, this year it was the latter. We had a "lamb" of a beautiful day yesterday - clear & cold. I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and did some spring cleaning in my china cabinet. I changed the dishes on our Swedish plate rack from a collection of antique cream & pinks plates to my collection of "The Blue Room" by Spode. On my shopping list for the week? A few potted primulas to brighten up the room.