Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blueberry Gateau

I'm known for my Blueberry Gateau. It's a recipe I found in Country Living magazine years ago (from an article spotlighting recipes from Vermont's Blueberry Hill Inn) and I make it many many (many!) times each Summer.

I am proud of the fact that my teenage nephews ask if I've many any "gateau."

I'm tickled that Google associates me with blueberry gateau. Try it. Google "blueberry gateau" and see if I come up in the first ten results.

It is blueberry season, I am headed to the cottage and you can bet that the tablesetting will look like this before long.

Why don't you make a blueberry gateau? And be sure to tell me if you do!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup-cakes

How are you celebrating World Cup fever? With sugar, I hope!

I noticed the modern bake shop, Lola's Cupcakes in London one evening because of its clean Ipod-like decor. The interior of this glass-walled shop is white and aqua - so pretty. I made a mental note to return when it was open to, you know, investigate. When I came back a few days later, I saw their super cute way to show team spirit.

I'll be writing more about Lola's and their delicious cupcakes in July, but I had to show you this photo while everyone has World Cup fever.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Garden of Delight

I am home after 10 days in England (glorious!) and I am happy to say that my garden is fine. I left a senior member of the Roseglen Garden Club in charge (she's 13) and I returned to find the patio in full bloom.

In fact, we got home as a storm was about to hit, so I cut all of these to keep them from getting batted around in the wind. I placed them in the nearest container of water and I think I will keep the arrangement as is - what could be prettier than this?

I want you to know that I will be starting my "Private Tour of England" blog series in early July. I just need to get my bearings, organize my photos, collect my thoughts and write! I can't wait to show you. It seemed that every moment was a delight.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Inner Harbor

You may have heard of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, but have you seen it? The last time I was in Baltimore, I was lucky enough to have this view from my room at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. I couldn't show it off any better than this!

Seafood restaurants rim the harbor on the right side of the photo (crab cakes!) and directly in front is the complex boasting ice cream, a Swatch watch store (want one!) and a huge waterfront Cheesecake Factory - what more could a girl need?
If you find yourself in Baltimore for business or pleasure, be sure to stroll the Inner Harbor after dinner. You'll see tall ships, street performers and a "rampart" just like in the Star Spangled Banner.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fresh Raspberries

Do I really need to say any more? This picture is worth a thousand words and should have you checking your calendar to see if you can sneak over to the farmer's market tomorrow morning. Fresh produce locally grown. Come on, you know you want to.

(Raspberries might not be ready near you yet, but aren't these gorgeous? And won't you be happy when they are available like this? It's Summer!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Schoolhouse Rock

Yes, there really were one room schoolhouses! I photographed this historic building on a country road in northern Michigan.

I'd love to rent it out for a garden party. Can't you see guests and music spilling out onto the lawn. I'd have farm tables loaded with baskets of flowers, glass infusion jars full of spiked lemonade, platters of country sandwiches and honey butter in the shape of a beehive. I think I'd put up tent poles around the perimeter and frame the party with small white lights hung high.

I think with a little music, we could make this school house rock. Join me?

Peony Gardens

All I had to hear was "Peony Festival" and I was "in!" I knew there would only be a few days when my schedule and Mother Nature's would overlap, so I watched the calendar carefully and drove to Ann Arbor on a sunny afternoon to see the peonies.

As I researched the garden and my route, I learned that the Nichols Arboretum has one of the largest collections of historic peonies in North America - and it is only an hour from my house!
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum is part of the University of Michigan and the arboretum is adjacent to U of M's central campus in Ann Arbor.
If you are interested, I encourage you to download the "Self-guided Peony Tour" from the first link above. It is the tool that I used to find my way to the oldest and rarest peony specimens. Have you ever seen a peony from 1850?
Isn't it lovely to think of all of the people that have enjoyed its blooms for the past 160 years? More than a century of productivity is an accomplishment in any field, I love that, in this case, the "field" is actually dirt!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Needle in a Haystack

I volunteered to work a 2-hour shift as a cashier at my church's rummage sale a few weeks ago. It was the last day of the sale and the building was still brimming with rummage and not quite enough happy shoppers.

We always work in teams, and since it was so quiet, the woman that I was assigned to work with gave me a reprieve from my duties so that I could go shop the sale. Great! I could walk the corridors talking to people and nosing about for treasures.

I honestly didn't see much that I wanted, but when I walked into the area called "Jewelry" I noticed this pin. I have always loved monograms and I was sure that I could see an "R" (Reeves) and a "D" (Dan, my husband). For me, a married monogram (like you would put on sheets or pillowcases) would be ARD.

I asked the ladies in the department for a consultation. "Could this be an A?" "Don't you see an A?" We laughed that I was wiggling the pin a little to skew the results. "Sure, it's an A," they finally conceded. Wonderful! I bought the pin for a whopping 50 cents, pinned it on my sweater and headed back to my station to work.

When I approached my teammate, Barb, she actually gasped. "That's my pin! You bought my pin!" In an entire building full of room after room of mismatched, well worn rummage, I had found "the needle in a haystack" and bought something my partner had donated! It had belonged to her Mother-in-Law (a woman that had lived to be 101 years old!) and it was a gift that she had monogrammed for her. Her name was Agnes (It is an A!) and Barb donated it to the church not really knowing if anyone would want a monogrammed item.

Can you believe it? The whole experience felt magical, like I was meant to have this pin; as if her Mother-in-Law meant for me to find it. Love it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Edible Flowers

I dug right in, I really did. How could you not eat something this beautiful? Plus a little salad dressing mellows out any sharp botanical flavors you might not be expecting.

It was a perfect Summer night at the cottage. For some reason I had the whole place to myself and I ate like a vegetarian. This flowerful salad, 2 ears of corn and some cherry clafoutis in the oven for dessert - heaven.

I found this big selection of edible flowers at a place called "The Ugly Tomato." They call themselves ugly because that they are a farm that grows and sells heirloom tomatoes that are warped and unusual looking. Have you seen heirloom tomatoes before? They really do boarder on ugly, but oh what flavor! Whenever the refrigerated section of this farm stand offers bagged edible flowers - I'm in!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bathed in Candlelight

When I see this arrangement, all I can think of is "candlelight."

When I pass by the living room, the word leaps out at me and I don't know why. Is it because the colors have the softness and quality of candlelight? I am not sure, but I love it.

The roses ("Eden Climber" and "Whisper") are crowded in a jam jar that I brought back from Laduree in Paris. I have put contact paper over the label to make it last forever.

You know what my plans are? Come nightfall, I am going to bathe this arrangement in candlelight. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oilcloth Cases

If you had a stack of this oilcloth, you wouldn't be able to resist either! I was thinking about the Summer jaunts I have planned and a girl's gotta protect her electronics, right? I absolutely LOVE these cases that I made this week.

I had actually made a small number of felt-lined cases similar to these for a "one-hour gift show" I participated in last month and they sold out in a snap! My plan is to make more and bring them to an Artist Market where I'll be a vendor in July.

When people ask me what I'll be selling at this event (I haven't done a real show in years and I am excited to talk to my customers again!), I tell them that I'll be signing my book, Moments of Delight, and that I'll have my magazine bags (DELIGHT totes), ANA cigar box purses, tin wallets, 2-of-a-kind necklaces, paper art matchbox sets, oilcloth cases, DELIGHT jam jar vases...

My goal is to get them to say, "Ohhh...when is it?" I love what I do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beekman Boys

Here I am with my fabulous Beekman Boy! Who knew?

You see, this is my dear friend Josh. He is part of a table of friendship that started back in college - Josh, Tracy, Kerry, Me.

We met as English majors at Michigan State University and spent every day together for years. We are all still good friends and see each other (mostly in pairs) whenever we can. Here we are the last time I was in New York City.

Josh and his partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, are now living and filming a reality show on Discovery Channel's Plant Green called "The Fabulous Beekman Boys." It revolves around how two Manhattanites leave the big city to work and live on a beautiful piece of property in a quiet New York town called Sharon Springs. The house, land and its history takes on a life of its own and eventually turns them into "accidental farmers" with a goat milk soap and cheese business named Beekman 1802. (I love their soap, still need to try the cheese!)

A little crazy? Yes. A bit like "Green Acres?" You bet. But it is also light, charming, and a really fun blend of modern life with age old farming rules. Tweeting & pigs? Josh. Worried about having a clean farm? Brent. It is full of love and nature and goats. Check it out Wednesday nights at 9 o'clock.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little Bit of Lovely

It is unusual to have something "lovely" in the kitchen. Kitchens are for cooking, socializing, planning. Work gets done in the kitchen.

But when I placed one open rose in a small glass compote by the sink, the whole room looked prettier. Take a moment (of delight) and look at how each individual petal is unfurled- gorgeous!

The rose is "McCartney Rose," named for Sir Paul McCartney and the vase is a thin glass pedestal dish (that I found for a song!) that is similar to the gorgeous work of William Yeoward.

Sometimes a little bit of lovely can make all the difference.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Travel Jewelry Pouches

Do I have to make everything myself? Apparently yes.
I have been looking for inexpensive travel pouches to protect my necklaces when I pack, and there aren't any to be found.

Like so many people, I move around a lot in the Summertime. I go to the cottage. I go to family reunions. Sometimes I go on a big adventure that I will blog about here (yea!).

And when I travel hither and yon, I need to look super cute, right? Which means lots of jewelry options. I've figured out how we both can make travel jewelry pouches in under 5 minutes.

You'll need a roll of bubble wrap and a roll of patterned duct tape, often displayed near the check out counter of craft stores.

Cut the bubble wrap into a rectangle (6" x 14" or whatever size you need), fold it in half and tape two of the sides together using the duct tape (I find that the easiest way to cut duct tape is with a rotary cutter on a self-healing mat). This will leave one side as the opening. You're done.

Make as many as you need and travel with them in a hard-sided box. I like the white lidded cardboard boxes at Michael's craft store or you could get my favorite container by Snapware. You can see more of my jewelry management tips here.

This should help to keep your necklaces safe and your Summer outfits fabulous.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Duck, Duck, Goose

When I invited a friend of mine to come along to the Mt. Bruce Station Spring Fiber Day, I described it as a "fun way to spend an hour or two wandering a farm, shopping for fiber-related goodies and perhaps seeing a sheep get shorn." What's not to like, right?

When we got there, what made me really happy was seeing these geese! I wanted her to feel like this adventure was an escape from the city and these honking beauties added to our farm experience for sure.

We had about an hour drive to the farm, so I made us some "Coffee Cake Bars" and brought along individual orange juice cartons for a snack. They were gone in a flash.

Coffee Cake Bars
Using 1 box of Pillsbury Cinnamon Swirl quick bread mix follow the directions on the box to make the batter. Since we want coffee cake bars, butter a 9 x 11 (or similar) pan.

Pour some batter into the pan and spread. Then shake on half of the streusel filling, then sprinkle on 3/4 cup of dried cherries, then add the rest of the batter. Sprinkle the remaining streusel on top and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 - 40 minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of the batter. Check for doneness with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, the batter is cooked. Allow to cool. Make a glaze by mixing 1/2 cup of powered sugar with a few tablespoons of hot water. Start with just a little water and add a bit at a time until it is the consistency you can "drizzle" over cake. Allow this icing drizzle to set by placing the cake pan in the refrigerator. Once it is set, you can cut the coffee cake into bars and slip each one into its own plastic baggie. This makes it perfect to eat on a trip - it comes with its own "crumb catcher" and clean up bag. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


This combination took my breath away. I think the painting is gorgeous, but the color on the walls and the placement of the orchid in front makes it so much more.

Can you see what I mean? Imagine a tray of violets on the table instead of the orchid-it wouldn't look right, would it?

Or imagine that the walls were painted pale gray like the marble table top - bland right?

Sometimes you have to see something in place before you know if it is right. The design term for this process is "auditioning." You are "auditioning" pieces in a setting to see if they should be given the part. Neat, eh?

I thought you might like to throw this into your next home makeover conversation..."I need to audition some new pillows for the family room." Ha!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Generosity - The Gift of Flowers in Painted Jam Jars

I think most people want to be generous - they just don't always recognize what it is that they have to "give."

Right now, what I really have to give is flowers. The more I talk to people, the more I realize they rarely make themselves casual flower arrangements. But what a difference flowers can make on your mood! A subtle "power of suggestion" item that says life is good.

So I am making and giving small bouquets every chance I get. I think the secret to the success of these flower arrangements are my vases. Flowers need a vase and I've devised a way to make affordable vases that my friends want to keep and reuse.

I save jam jars all year and then in an afternoon, paint them all with polka dots. I use glass paint, my brush is a cotton swab for the perfect dot and once the paint is dry I follow the directions on the bottle and bake the vases in the oven to make the dots permanent. Super easy and so cute!

Tonight I am invited to a small dinner party and in addition to salad, I am also bringing flowers! I'll be cutting a fresh bouquet this afternoon of yellow roses. All it takes is a few roses, a painted jar and an orchid clip.

What can you be generous with? Your time? Your tomatoes? A simple gesture of generosity can mean the world to someone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lipstick Mirrors

I am a Revlon girl - Chinaglaze Red, Snowsilver Rose. I even got to know a church member better by asking her if she was wearing Persian Melon - I kid you not!

A long time ago, I bought a 2-pack of adhesive lipstick mirrors for the end of your lipstick case at a tiny drug store in northern Michigan. Pure genius! I have been waiting to see them distributed nationally

1) so that I could buy more and
2) so that I could tell you about them.

But I have given up. It has been at least eight years and they are no where to be found so I am making my own!

Find some 2 cm mirror discs at the craft store (usually in a bag of 10), get a packet of Glue Dots and pull out all of your lipsticks! It works best if you place an adhesive dot on the back of the mirror and on the lipstick case. The glue dots adhere to each other and voila! You'll be gorgeous, darling.

Note: Do not do what I did the first time. I bought the 2-pack of mirrors, met my friends for lunch, pulled my "find" out of the bag and proceeded to stick the mirror on the base (over the label) of the lipstick tube. You guessed it, it was the wrong end and I couldn't see myself in the mirror and apply lipstick at the same time! Duh! The mirror goes on the CAP, which you hold and look at while you put on your lipstick.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bananas Foster Crepe

It was an accident, but I outdid myself! I was experimenting with crepe batter (the perfected recipe will appear here soon) and was making some delicious crepes with homemade strawberry jam filling.

On a lark (and because I had so much batter left), I decided to try a different flavor. I sauteed the only fresh banana I had in butter, brown sugar and a splash of rum. I gave everyone a bite and they wanted more! Here is how to make a quick Bananas Foster filling that they will never forget.

Bananas Foster Crepe Filling

1 fresh banana, sliced

2 Tablespoons of salted butter
3 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
a splash of white or dark rum

Saute the first 3 ingredients until hot and bubbly. Add rum, spoon into a crepe and top with a banana slice and whipped cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Books and Boggle

I love a good book club. I think the combination of interesting women, a topic to discuss and snacks is genius.

I have been in one book club for close to twelve years now. I've seen the members have babies, buy houses, explore toddler hood, join the Girl Scouts and now they are talking about dance recitals! Even I can say, "Where does the time go?" I love this group for our history.

Then I was invited to join another book club and it is a completely different experience. I am the only one "new" to the group and finding my way through their topics, interests and perspective has been fascinating. I really look forward to getting to know this group even more.

And then, yes, because I love people (and to read!) I have started joining yet another group of women that read. Much less structure (we meet at a tea house or restaurant), but we are held together with the common thread of our volunteer work.

I've decided that book club discussions are a lot like the game, Boggle. When you "shake up" the book topic and participants, you never know where the conversation will go!

Here is a link to a Reading Group Guide to help your book club to have fruitful discussions. Enjoy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rose Chart

When you have one spectacular rose bush, you memorize its name and give praise heartily ("Oh, Graham, you look gorgeous!")

Once you start to have several different varieties of roses, your guests will naturally ask, "Which one is this?" That's when having your very own rose chart can come in handy.

Whenever I buy a new rose bush, I remove the colorful tag that comes attached (leave the metal tag on the bush itself for identification) and tape it onto my rose chart, which is essentially a foam core board.

Since it is made of foam core, it is sturdy so I am able to store it leaning against the garage wall.

I am not precious with it (it is dusty and a little banged up), but it works like a charm. I have the plant info right at my fingertips and I've been known to take it with me to the greenhouse! I look a little funny standing among the roses with my chart, but it helps me remember which varieties I already have.

Wouldn't you like a simple rose chart?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Leelanau Peninsula: Fish on the Grill

It was Memorial Weekend, we were at the cottage and we wanted to grill something!

I decided to go to Carlson's, the local fish market, on the edge of Lake Michigan and buy whitefish fillets. Whitefish is a mild, light and flaky fish - absolutely delicious prepared the following way.

Make a tin foil boat for each fillet. Lay each fillet (skin side down) in a boat. Don't spray with any non-stick coating - you want the skin to stick to the foil. Top the fish with 3 pats (Tablespoons) of butter and 3 lemon slices and sprigs of fresh dill. Lay each tin foil boat on the grill over medium heat (close the lid, but check periodically) and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the fish is no longer opaque. Use a fork to pull a small piece up - it should be solid white.

Using a spatula, you should be able to slide it between the skin (which is stuck to the foil like you want it) and the whitefish. Move the cooked whitefish out of the tin foil boat and onto your plate. Serve with fresh lemon wedges and tartar sauce. Ahoy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Peony Bouquet

My dear friend has saved me! I am having a dinner party for eight tonight. In my mind, a major component is "drinks in the rose garden" (Don't I sound like a romance novelist?).

Of course I need a bouquet for the table and the roses are the only flower that's blooming right now. If I cut them for a centerpiece, then the rose garden is just a prickly green hedge.

Enter, Kim, and her magnificent peonies! I was worrying out loud yesterday about my flower situation and this was her solution: an armful of peonies! She brought white ones for the dining room table too. *Sigh* Gardeners are the best!

Do you have flowers to share? You can see firsthand how welcome your bouquet might be.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bee Hive Cake

I will never regret the money spent on a beautiful cake pan. Imagine arriving at my house and seeing this on the table!

You be happy, right? You'd feel special (and maybe even a little lucky) that you'd get to eat a cake that was this pretty. Never underestimate the power of cute.

My bee hive cake pan came from the Martha Stewart Living catalog years ago, but you can get a similar pan here. The sugar bumble bees can be ordered online or found at a cake supply store.

This time my beehive is a lemon pound cake. I drizzled it with a lemon glaze after serving - yum!

Now how about a slice?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This year I am growing 5 pots of nasturtiums! I planted the seeds yesterday (a mix of color and height) and I am looking forward to a bountiful crop.

Remember when my Mom did a "Study in Nasturtiums" last year? Well I've caught nasturtium fever and I can't wait to make some bright bouquets.

I usually grow a few nasturtium seedlings in a pot on the patio and get about 6 blooms at a time. This year I should have scores of blooms - wait till the Garden Club Girls hear.

Long ago, our youngest gardener claimed the "eat-able" flowers as her favorite. I hope she's hungry!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sort of Shortbread

So pretty! Do you have a shortbread pan? I have only used mine a few times because I thought I could only use shortbread dough in it. But a little while ago, I found myself with extra cookie dough and needed something to bake it in. The recipe wasn't shortbread, but it was a sturdy dough and I thought, why not?

I can now attest that a shortbread pan (especially a non-stick one) works great with other doughs, so live a little! Dig your shortbread pan out of the basement and give it a try the next time you have some extra dough. This recipe is Wilton's Cookies-on-a-Stick and it worked like a charm - I love how each square shows an herb or fruit.

When someone walks in the kitchen and says, "Oh, you made shortbread!", just answer, "Sort of."