Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sheep Shop

This last day of March has me thinking of the old adage:

"March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb."

Today is calm and clear, definitely lamb-like.

Do you a knit or crochet? We are heading into "Sheep & Wool Festival" season. The Spring calendar is out and you can look for events near you here. Recruit a friend and plan on spending a Saturday morning together walking a farm, shopping for fancy needles and drinking lemonade. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crowning Glory

You heard it here first...the motif this Spring is crowns. They are gracing items all across the design world right now.

You will see them on totes, pillows, as iron-on designs, and even on paper placemats. You wouldn't want a crown on everything, but choosing this regal icon for just one item in your home would be darling.

Where's my crown? I have a wire one on my living room table. It was hand-wrought by an artist I know and the jewel on top is a tiny brown nest holding 2 faux robin's eggs. I just love it.

Oh, this crown? It is on the gated entrance to an estate in Dijon, France.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Comfort Crunch

A friend called me one day and said, "Anne, I really think you should know about Lambie Stout and her Comfort Crunch."

After phone calls, emails and some happy snacking, I, too, am a fan of Comfort Crunch, a delicious snack mix with an inspirational story.

When I opened "Toffee Talk" (the Original Mix studded with toffee...hello!) I wanted to photograph the whole nuts, dried blueberries, cherries and cranberries to show you how beautiful the product is. However, I almost enjoyed my "healthy snack alternative" right to the bottom of the bag before I remembered to take a picture. It is that delicious. Give some comfort.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finding Delight

A friend told me that after reading my book, Moments of Delight, she had an "Aha!" moment at the grocery store.

She walked into the produce section, saw the tower of lemons and realized that it was beautiful.

She said to herself, "That's delight!" She suddenly "saw" the beauty of lemons and attributed it to my book and philosophy. That is music to my ears.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Roadside Stand

We've all seen trucks selling fresh seafood, produce, even roses by the roadside on occasion, but can you imagine seeing... orchids? We practically drove off the road.

There were at least 75 plants with a big sign that read "Orchids - For Sale."
These plants were bright, healthy and begging to be in a cachepot in every living room in Palm Beach.

Did we pullover and buy a plant? Absolutely.

They had me at "orchids."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Size, Shape, Color

Isn't this exquisite? Think of the hours required to pick out and artfully arrange the perfect size, shape and color shells to make this perfect sailor's valentine.

I found this piece in a shop in Florida and nervously wrapped and layered it within the clothes in my suitcase to bring it home. It made it with nary a shell chipped, thank heaven. 

I have it on display on a black coffee table between two white duck loveseats. It is a show-stopper and it sure to spark conversation. 

I just love it and again, I tell you, art is everywhere.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Virtual Beachwalk

When I am composing a photograph, I look for elements that add value to the image.

What did I see in this picture?
  • the horizon is true, but the shoreline is on a slant, which makes the "lines" interesting
  • the white of the clouds echo the color of the white cap waves
  • there is not a soul around

Now take a minute and go for a virtual beach walk.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fine China

I love fine china and love to drink tea from pretty teacups. My formal china pattern is "Lavinia" by Royal Worcester. The design is white bone china with black raspberries and branches - just looking at it makes me happy. I know that I chose the right pattern.

To celebrate 100 years, Royal Doulton is offering commemorative 5 teacup sets with one teacup/saucer each of their most popular patterns in an era. A darling idea - check out this link to view the different sets.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And for Dessert?

How could we resist this dessert tray? You can always steal "a moment in France" by having lunch at PAUL. With over 360 locations worldwide, PAUL has expanded to the United States by opening 6 cafes in Florida.

My mom, aunt and I drank cappuccinos under a canvas umbrella on the patio and split the sugared almond torte on the bottom right.

Life is good.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vernal equinox

When my dear friend Heidi lived in Japan, she would fly home twice a year with her daybag stuffed with things she knew that I would love.
One such gift was this set of gumdrop-like candy. Of course I can't read the packaging, but it looks to me as if is meant to celebrate the beginning of Spring, or vernal equinox. Snowflakes transitioning into Spring flowers and birds chirping.
Spring is here!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Secret Garden

Isn't this lovely? I found a little garden tucked beside a gift shop called Cottage Cache in Hobe Sound.

I love when a shopkeeper looks at all 360 degrees of their business. A wonderful shopping experience includes the approach to the building (a lovely garden arch with draping blooms), the welcome sounds (music playing) and a beautiful selection of products. This darling spot has it all. I just wish I could remember the name of this gorgeous vine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eating al fresco

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I love to eat outside. Give me a deck, patio, cafe or rooftop and I am "in." When I am exploring the little shops between Hobe Sound and Palm Beach Gardens (Florida), I often stop for lunch at Cafe Copenhagen. It is a quaint Scandinavian cafe with an outdoor patio. On this particular day, my mom, aunt and I shopped in the morning and then made our way here for a girls lunch. Our choice wasn't exactly Danish, but it was the perfect cold salad on a hot afternoon. There was a hibiscus plant blooming on the patio beside our table and it felt like a perfect day. Where do you like to eat al fresco?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tin Foil

I love it when the ocean looks like tin foil, or "silver paper" as my grandmother used to say.

A calm clear morning on the ocean makes the possibilities seem endless. Is today meant for beach combing? Cooking fish on an outdoor grill (remember my pineapple relish)? Getting lost in a few chapters of a book?

If I am lucky, the answer is all of the above.

Monday, March 16, 2009


As you know, my husband and I spent last Saturday at the nature center for a maple sugar tour. At one point, we hung back from the group in order to stand on a little footbridge. The brook was "babbling" and it was so pleasant to stand in the sun and listen to the sound of the stream. When I finally put my camera down, I noticed the best picture of all...us! Our shadow was so clearly reflected in the stream I just had to show you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Maple Sugaring

For years I have wanted to visit the local Nature Center during Maple Syrup Time and today was the day.

I distinctly remember "sponsoring a tree" here about 10 years ago through a mail-in donation. The city posts your name on a tree (see maple leaf name tag at left) and then sends you a bottle of maple syrup and the tree tap at the end of the season. A very sweet program, in both senses of the word.

Today we had a refresher course on photosynthesis, watched a short film on the process of maple sugaring and then headed into the woods. It was about 45 degrees today when we went on our tour, with bright sun and blue sky. The sap was running!

Our guide pulled a bucket off a tree and we tasted the sap; we went in the sugar house and saw the equipment and then ended our hike with a mini-waffle soaked in maple syrup. Happy Spring!

Friday, March 13, 2009

365 Days

365 days = 365 necklaces, right?
I have been on a roll lately. Making one-of-a-kind necklaces to go with everything in my closet. Necklaces made of buttons, shells, pearls, you name it. I love that a simple accessory can "make" an outfit.
This week my niece came over after school and showed me her first attempt at jewelry making. Two beautiful necklaces made of forest green, copper and wine-colored glass beads. As a teenager, she claims that she is "jewelry challenged" but I am telling you, she has an eye.
What fun it is to be an aunt!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pretty Sachets

Company's coming and I am pulling out all the stops...blueberry coffeecake, pretty pillowcases and a stack of magazines by the guest bed. I used to dream of owning a country inn and having guests lets me exercise those ideals a little.

What is the final touch? A pretty little sachet on the nightstand. I photographed this amazing selection in a gift shop a few years ago - which one would you choose?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Optimist Club

Today I was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Birmingham Optimist Club. I was invited by a member who loves my business of "delight" and was sure that the group would enjoy hearing my story.

It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad that I had the chance to meet such a neat group of people.

In high school, I was a member of a Gifted & Talented program. Students that excelled in extracurricular activities (mine was counted cross-stitch) could receive high school credit for their achievements. At the end of the year, the students hosted a "Show & Tell" assembly of their work. The event program listed the participants and in addition to embroidery, I noticed that I was also named as a member of the planning committee. The program read: Anne Held, Positive Mental Attitude Advisor. I was 16 and have considered myself an optimist ever since.

Sunshine & Time

Have you ever grown nasturtiums? Known on my street as the "eat-able" flowers (you remember my Garden Club Girls, right?), nasturtiums are easy to grow from seed and are edible (if you avoid sprays and fertilizer). My Mom & I rely on Renee's Garden Seeds for our garden and have already ordered this year's assortment. With names like "Whirlybird" and "Creamsicle," how can you resist? Simply fill a pot with dirt, push the seeds in and water. After that, all you need is sunshine & time. These bright blooms are beautiful in arrangements and striking on their own.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Women Entrepreneur Event

It was about this time last year that I was headed to icy Chicago for Country Living magazine's Women Entrepreneur event. The view from my room had Lake Michigan in the distance and I could see bands of ice on the lake. Brrrrr....

So it is no surprise that the editors of Country Living magazine have scheduled this year's 2009 Women Entrepreneur event in Chicago in May. Hailing a cab, jogging along the lake shore, shopping the Magnificent Mile - all of it will be much more pleasant with the warmer weather.

Do you have a small business? Do you want to learn more about marketing your company and the business of trade shows? If so, I encourage you to attend this event - it is always packed with interesting women "making things happen."

I was a Country Living Pitch Your Product winner (for my company, Subscribe To Delight) at this event in 2007 and found the entire experience to be amazing.

So consider making your way to Chicago this Spring. You'll walk away with a network of like-minded businesswomen, a ton of valuable advice from the experts and lots of inspiration...plus an adorable tote bag full of goodies!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bella Cucina

I have always been drawn to Bella Cucina products because of their beautiful packaging. I love the shape of their glass jars (with fancy paper lids) and coupled with a cherry wood spoon, they are the perfect hostess gift. You can shop for Bella Cucina online and in boutique shops across America.
I particularly like Bella Cucina's Meyer Lemon spread and Artichoke Lemon pesto.
So imagine my surprise when I was shopping a neighborhood in Atlanta (The Highlands) and saw the Bella Cucina store. I had stumbled upon the only retail location for the company!

It was gorgeous. Completely true to the design aesthetic of the company and I had a hard time tearing myself away. They had beautiful pesto cheese tortes to sample (yum!) and a darling salesgirl that really knew the product. Such a lovely place to shop. What did I buy? Well, among other things, I bought a Bella Cucina espresso cup. I have been drinking a shot of pomegranate juice every day and I thought a pretty Italian cup was the perfect vessel for it. Salute!

Friday, March 6, 2009

She Sells Sea Shells

There is an almost blase feeling about shells in Florida. The sweet shops and juice stands are overflowing with so many gorgeous specimens that they are often heaped in baskets or bins.

But once you get them on their own, they absolutely sing. I took my time last year and selected these 3 perfect shells: a Pencil Starfish, Sand Dollar and a Lavender Sea Urchin. What a display...I can't wait for my peonies!

If you ever want to try crafting with shells (like making a picture frame or sailor's valentine), check out Marian McEvoy's book, Glue Gun Decor. I promise you will be inspired.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Clothes & Sweet Treats

In kindergarten, our class learned the alphabet by interacting with giant inflatable letters. We would walk around the room trying to carry "vowels" or our initials. Seems silly now, but it really made the alphabet fun.

Somehow these wildly "out-of-scale" pastries remind me of my grade school days, when everything seemed too big. I think the message here is that Spring clothes & French pastries have a lot in common:
They are beautiful, sweet and you simply can't resist!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cigar Box Purses

I started my business, ANA Designs Inc., by creating beautiful cigar box purses (a few limited editions are still available online). Gorgeous one-of-a-kind handbags that are signed, numbered and have lovely fabric linings. Truly show-stoppers. It was for them that I came up with my ceramic ANA hang tag and customs stamp ("Passed As Super Cute").

One of my first online customers bought two purses and then called me the moment they arrived. "I don't know what to do!" she exclaimed and my stomach dropped. Was something wrong?

The next thing I knew she was talking about displays, FedEx and a party. Huh? The grand opening of her interior design store in Seattle was the next night and she loved my purses so much she was asking if I could overnight 10 more. She was buying them to display around her store as something both "beautiful and interesting."

It was my first taste of what I call "the enthusiasm of strangers." I have been trying to make people that happy ever since.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Honey Bar

Over the holidays, we had a dinner party and this little writing desk "became" a tea & coffee station. It looked so cute that I have permanently deemed it "The Honey Bar" in honor of the bee skep tea set I found (love it!) and all the honey-related items that have been given to me over the years.

My sweet mother-in-law gave me the crystal honey pot, my friend Angie gave me the Longaberger tea basket (see the station wagon "tie-on" loaded for vacation? She says it is in honor of my weekend trips up north). The honey spoons are like lollipops and make teatime extra special. Ohhh...and see the jar on the shelf? It is filled with heart-shaped candied ginger. Now who wouldn't want a cup of tea from this little station? Oh, honey....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Palm Beach Style

The style of The Palm Beaches is having an effect on me! I saw this lemon-print fabric (when I was on a shopping expedition with my niece) and just had to make myself a purse.

A roomy little number that can hold everything a girl needs for a jaunt about town or a day at the beach. It works as well with white pants and a simple blouse, as it does with a breezy beach cover-up. I also made a matching eyeglass case (for giant sunglasses) and a yellow keyring. I designed it with elastic, so I can wear it like a bracelet - a girl's gotta keep tabs on the key to the ocean gate, right?

Ahhh...when life gives you lemons, make something cute!