Friday, July 31, 2009

Have you lost your marbles?

I realized what it was like to find my marbles when I saw this incredible selection in a museum store. Sold by the bag (you get to choose the size & color), imagine what fun you could have with these. And I can't think of a child who wouldn't want to plunge their hands into this gorgeous bin? And believe me they did - I could hear the glass balls rolling around together from across the store.

Personally, I would like these strung together into a necklace. It would be fabulous with a red t-shirt and jean jacket, don't you think?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Limonata Bouquet

I'd like you to meet my favorite bouquet, Limonata. I have been making and giving this arrangement all Summer and I think it is perfect.

Fill an empty San Pellegrino Limonata can (Tip: Drink the sparkling lemonade while you are cutting the flowers!) with water and add:

  • one yellow rose
  • a few orange nasturtiums
  • a small pink rose
  • a sprig of banana-colored lantana

It is such a "happy" bouquet - one that is sure to bring delight!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coastal Living on Lake Michigan

Every time of day has something special to offer when you are living on the water. Early morning beach walks. A picnic lunch after a long swim.

Six o'clock in the evening is another magic time. The sun is still high, but the relaxed feeling of "a day well done" sets in. 

You still have hours before the beach fire and all you can do is give in to the moment.

My dear friend invited a few of us over for wine & appetizers on the patio. It was perfect.

Surely, this is what they mean by Coastal Living.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day Breaker Rose in Beaker Vase

There is nothing like a small bouquet in an unexpected place to brighten a room.

In this photo, my newest rose, Day Breaker, is in a glass test tube vase from CB2 (a modern store in Chicago that is owned by Crate & Barrel).

The neat part is that it can hang from the lock on the armoire in my family room. I simply threaded some coordinating ribbon through the hole in the glass test tube, added water, roses and hung it from the key.
When they glance around the room, my guests can't believe that the flowers are real!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Picnic Salad in Glass Jars

Want a great picnic idea? Nothing is more fun than sitting on a blanket and enjoying a layered salad in a glass jar. I got this idea years ago from Southern Living magazine and it is my "go to" item for picnic dinners.

Simply fill glass jars with:
  • lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • diced orange bell pepper
  • chick peas
  • black olives
  • cucumber chunks
  • steamed green beans
  • cooked bacon pieces
  • and slivers of Parmesan cheese
Take along a few salad dressings and when the time comes, let your guests add their choice of dressing and shake! It is a delicious dinner every time. I also served marinated grilled chicken breasts and crusty French bread. Clean-up is a breeze...simply snap the lids shut and tuck the jars away in the picnic basket. Voila!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Doll House

National Museum of American History has a 23-room dollhouse on display! Faith Bradford's (1880-1970) childhood love of miniatures grew and developed over a lifetime as she decorated this spectacular dollhouse. She donated her mini-masterpiece (along with the scrapbook where she recorded her plans and methods) to the Smithsonian in 1951.

My favorite part of this kitchen is the loaves of bread rising in the pan on the table. Such a sweet depiction of everyday life in the late 1800's.

And look at this darling little girl. She is completely transfixed.
I think Faith Bradford would be proud.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Herb Pot

I love love love having an herb pot just outside my kitchen window.

It makes it easy to add a sprig of rosemary to roasted potatoes, some basil to an heirloom tomato salad, even a "bit of green" to a bouquet of flowers.

Every year my Dad and I plant strawberry pots with our favorites (pineapple sage, lemon thyme, chocolate mint) and tend them all Summer long.

I even designed a day bag (click "Delight Totes" button on link) called "Herb Appeal" in honor of our tradition. The leading article is:

"Pot + Water + Sunlight = Herb Appeal"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wine Cork Candles

There is nothing quite like candlelight in the living room. I wanted to show you one of my favorite things right now - wine cork candles!

Putting a candle in an empty wine bottle has been a tradition for ages. It memorializes a special bottle (and the associated event) and is a simple and romantic way to add ambiance to a room.
But to have a candle that looks like a cork is a very fun play on the idea. I've started mine in a bottle of 45 North, a winery that references the 45th Parallel.

What luck that the labeling matches the room so perfectly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

90 Days of Summer

Are you enjoying the 90 Days of Summer? I have been bouncing between tending the garden, grilling dinners on the deck, watering the herbs (and working on my next book), all while photographing everything in sight.

As a photographer, every moment has a "time stamp" on it. The magnolia, lilacs and peonies are gone now, but the hydrangeas, delphinium and roses are at their peak. I can no longer make fresh strawberry jam (but believe me the freezer is stocked!), but I am looking forward to peach ice cream.

There are so many wonderful festivals, outdoor concerts and "things to do," it makes my head spin. I hope your 90 days of Summer are filled with things you love.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When Lunch is Edible Art

Do you eat flowers? Have you dusted your plate with powdered sugar?

Each year I make a pilgrimage to the Scandinavian shop Punzel to enjoy a lunch so beautiful, it is worthy of a picture frame.

The elements of this work of art (horse-shaped "Dala" pasta, shrimp, begonias, a crepe) was completely unexpected and absolutely delicious.

What do you consider to be edible art?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Paul McCartney Rose

It is time to get out our calenders and pick a date for the Roseglen Garden Club's Annual Garden Walk.

There is a mental checklist we go through to know when the time is right.
  • Are there many rosebuds about to open?
  • Are the hydrangeas blooming?
  • Is the herb pot thriving?
  • Are the nasturtiums ready?

The answer to those questions is: Yes Yes Yes!

(This beauty is the The McCartney rose!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Japanese Paper Art

This is a tiny pop-up paper scene of a Japanese celebration called Hinamatsuri (or Girl's Day). A 2.75 x 2.75 card opens into this charming scene, where even the star-filled trees expand to the side as the guests settle into place.

I found this at The Morikami Museum and have been looking for the right place to display it for some time now. But today things fell into place. I have it on my cream plate rack next to a glass cup filled with 3 pink roses.

Wishing you good health, great happiness and good fortune.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Swedish Style: Wallpaper Offers The Perfect Touch

My new wallpaper is up! I chose "Chester Stripe" (metallic on aqua) from Thibaut's Serendipity Collection and I just love it. The leave-life detail is actually created with tiny metallic dots.

The tonal stripe really brings the plate rack (with my grandmother's dishes), sideboard and oval back chairs "together."

It is a little bit like a dollhouse...and it is a gorgeous place to entertain.

Cup of tea, anyone?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grocer's Daughter Artisanal Chocolates on the Leelanau Peninsula

You are looking at 6 glorious chocolates from Grocer's Daughter. On this particular Summer day, I had my heart set on one of their "fudgesicles". A perfect, ice cube-size frozen delight on a stick. Yes, I think that sums it up. But, alas, they had sold out by afternoon.

So I made up for it with one each of Lavender, Rosemary, Mint and Basil truffles plus 2 Sea Salt caramels. Did I really need chocolate on any old Monday? Umm...yes!

Grocer's Daughter is a small batch chocolatier that boasts using "local and/or organic dairy products, herbs and edible flowers come straight from our gardens. Honey, maple syrup, berries and loads of other local/organic fruit & nuts are used whenever possible." Doesn't that sound wonderful?  You can taste a little bit of northern Michigan in every bite.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vineyard Vines

The "Spirit of Summer" - that is what I think of when I see the name, Vineyard Vines.

Preppy, happy clothes to wear all Summer long. On the beach, cocktails at the cottage - a brand that is appropriate anywhere you might see a boat. Seriously.

I had seen the clothes for years and heard the story - 2 brothers that founded their business on brightly colored neckties.

So, I was very happy to come across one of their shops while I was in Georgetown. As we walked across the street, I gave a quick brand profile to the girls so that they'd know what we were about to see. A gorgeous shop packed with plaid, seersucker and nautical details. My favorite thing? A whale-print tote with a rope handle.

The bonus? I left with a large pink foam whale - a promotional item that they give away "for fun." I like their spirit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blueberry Gateau

Our micro-crop of blueberries is coming along nicely. We may have upwards of 100 blueberries this year! A real landslide compared to the crop of ten we had last Summer.

These little garden beauties are destined for a few bowls of cereal, nothing more. But even though there are hardly enough to speak of, we grew them ourselves and that will make them the best we've had all season!

Alas, the farmer's market is my actual source for blueberries. I need cartons and cartons to keep up with the Blueberry Gateau requests. It has become my signature dish in July and I just can't make it enough.

Have you ever made Blueberry Gateau? Make it once and they will ask for it for the rest of your life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Casual Floral Arrangements

I love love love to make flower arrangements with the roses in my garden. I try to use interesting containers (hand-painted jam jars), add unexpected greens (mint) or showcase interesting connections between the color of the flowers and an outside element (ribbon/packaging).

And then there are days that I glance over at my "harvest" and remember that, although I am having fun, they really need nothing at all. What's growing in your garden?

***To see more of my casual flower arrangements, click here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lavender Farms

The lavender fields are in bloom!

I know that Summer weekends are busy busy busy, but if you are looking for an afternoon of girl fun, may I suggest a trip to a lavender farm?

July is the month for lavender festivals and events in the Midwest. I took this photo last year at Lavender Hill Farm in northern Michigan. What a day! I came home with some lovely culinary lavender to use in my shortbread. Yum.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Berry Season

Are you reeling from the choice of berries? You simply have to take advantage of this incredible season. I made jars and jars of strawberry jam this week, using my tried & true method. If you have the chance, give it a whirl. All you need is a packet of Ball's No-Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 4 cups of crushed fruit - see my description here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lake Michigan Beach Fires

I was lucky enough to sit by two beach fires this week. We watched the sun go down and the flames start up. What a delight.

I roasted marshmallows on a stick and indulged in one too many S'mores. Sitting out in the quiet was just so peaceful. And it was all topped off with a sighting of the "Big Dipper." I wish you many starry nights.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kayaks, Tubes & Canoes

Imagine the luxury of drifting down this river in an inner tube. Feet dangling in the water, drinking a cold pop with nothing but time on your hands.

I saw this picture perfect scene on the Platte River when I was driving across the county a few days ago. I had to turn my car around and take a photograph. The life jackets hung by the river, canoes lined up on shore. Everything was perfect for a day on the river.

The last time I drifted in a tube down a river, I was in the Texas Hill Country. Have you ever spent the day on a river in a inner tube?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oh, boys!

I can't make this stuff up. Three "teenage" foxes out in broad daylight at the cottage. I pulled in the driveway and there they were. I watched them play and romp for a while and then when they all climbed to the top of the woodpile, I rolled down my car window and said "Oh, boys...I want to take your picture" and they all looked my way. Priceless.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dairy Dreams

When you stumble upon an artisanal ice cream shop (this one called Sylvan Beach in Baltimore, Maryland), life is good.

I devoured these fantastic flavors.
"Chocolate Zinfandel"
"Banana Walnut Chip"
"Honey Graham"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

My goal was to get The Blue Angels and the American flag in the same picture. I lined up my shot and patiently waited for the planes to fly by. They are F/A 18 Hornets - so fast it is hard to compose a shot at all.

In my wildest dreams, I never thought that the wind would blow the flag "just so" and that the planes and jet stream would line up with the stars and stripes! This is one of my favorite photos.

Wishing you a delightful 4th of July.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mount Vernon

I made it to Mount Vernon! It was beautiful the day we toured George Washington's historic home and grounds. The paintings on the wall, the tapestries on the bed, even the dishes gave a real peek into the life of our first president. My favorite part was sitting on the grand porch overlooking the Potomac River. The breeze was wonderful and I know that "retiring to the porch" is exactly what George Washington did with his guests. Loved it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dean and Deluca spices in Georgetown

"Anne, do you want to go in Dean an..."

It is no big secret that I love to cook. When I saw a Dean & Deluca shop in Georgetown, it instantly moved to the top of my "must visit" list. We had a relaxing day shopping the area and finished with a culinary whirl inside this beautiful store. Long glass cases were filled with the finest meats, salads, cheeses and pastries. Everything was a picture. But what did I choose to represent my trip? A display of their signature spice tins. I have always wanted to have a ridiculously large selection of spices in tins from Dean & Deluca and here they all were before me.

How did the afternoon end? At Dean & Deluca's outdoor gelato bar. I indulged in two beautiful shades of green: pistachio and mint chocolate chip.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Julia Child's kitchen

This is Julia Child's actual kitchen...right down to the utensils! It was donated (by Julia) in its entirety to the Smithsonian and is displayed at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. It was wonderful to be able to see it in person. I was happy to hear that Julia (at age 90) was able to visit this exhibit after it was complete - imagine how that must have felt to her...the world would soon be lining up to see where she mastered the art of French cooking. I can think of no finer tribute.

What was my favorite part? Seeing her library of cookbooks on the shelf. She had written "KITCHEN" down the spine of the books she had written, to use as her own reference point at home. Can you imagine having written a series of cookbooks and then keeping a "kitchen" copy for yourself? How cool.

Bon Appetit!