Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dyed Rovings

I bought two big beautiful puffs of hand-dyed rovings like these...a few years ago.  And they still sit, untouched in in my studio.  I was wooed by the colors and knew a smidge about felting, but it hadn't occurred to me that the next "official" stage for this type of wool is really spinning it into yarn.  

I don't spin yarn, and it seems like too big of a skill to learn in my spare time.  So...what to do; what to do.  I wonder if the local knit shops know of people who would spin it for me?  Or I suppose I could try to do a felted would be gorgeous if I took my time and did it right.  Something with fields and streams and mountains.  Hmm...I promise to show you the result!    

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Salad Bar "To Go"

Tah-dah!  This is my salad bar "to go."  I was going to my book club last night and wanted to make sure I would be able eat something healthy.  Everyone always pitches in and brings different appetizers (this serves as dinner for most of us), but gooey cheese dips and hummus really can't replace dinner in my book.

So I decided to bring something beautiful, healthy and delicious.  The best part is that it is a snap to assemble.  Leave the components in piles and everyone can compose a custom salad on their plate.

Salad Bar "To Go"   
Fresh mixed greens (in center)
Tiny grape tomatoes
Canned garbanzo beans, drained
Fresh cauliflower
Edible Flowers - so pretty to have a touch of orange!
Flat leaf parsley (looked great, but unnecessary)
Raw walnut halves
French Breakfast radishes
Fresh broccoli
A bottle of Kraft Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette Dressing

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lost in Thought

I was lost in thought for the past hour or so.  And this is the result!  I have a Swedish-style plate rack in my family room and I decided that today was the day to take down these sweet plates that were my grandmother's and put up my collection of Spode's Blue Room.

Whenever I move a large number of dishes, I end up rearranging everything in my big glass-front cupboard.  With so many different patterns, cups, and touches, it can take forever and as evidenced today, it is a wonderful way to get lost in thought.

I remembered when and where I got each piece; considered some Easter tablescape possibilities and imagined a conversation with Rachel Ashwell because I think she would like some of my dishes.  All in all, it was a good 45 minutes well spent and the cupboard looks beautiful again.

When do you get lost in thought?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tiny Rooms

I am using this photo (from my visit to the National Museum of Modern History) to represent the idea of tiny rooms.

I have always loved dollhouses and making things, so when I get the chance to work on something small and sweet, I jump at the chance. 

Last night, one of the Garden Club Girls called and asked to borrow some fabric for a school project.  "Project?" - I said with my ears perked up.  She was working on the fifth-grade assignment called "Dream Room," which represents their ideal bedroom built from everyday objects inside of a shoe box.  Needless to say, it took all of my will power not to build a room myself!

We had so much fun sorting through the fabrics choices to find just the right sheets and pillow for her tiny bed.  And I found a strip of "cotton jewelry box cushion" that she could use to give the pillow she was making some puff.  

*sigh*  I love this stuff and it is so much fun to work with a serious decorator.  This little girl weighed her decisions carefully and was a dream to work with.  Ha! 

Thank you for letting me share my supplies with you, Garden Club Girl.  My fabric is your fabric. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pizza al fresco

Now this is the way I like to have pizza!  I knew that I was in the right place the moment I walked into this beautiful courtyard, which is part of the historic Via Mitzner area of Worth Avenue designed by Addison Mitzner in the early 1920's.

Eating outdoors on a patio shaded by palm trees, I found a moment of delight at Pizza al Fresco.  Our Margherita (Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil) pizza, cooked in a wood-fired brick oven, was the best pizza I have had in a long long time.  Bravo!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Deep Blue Sea

Now this is the deep blue sea!  Isn't this starfish beautiful?  This living creature was just hanging out inside a special tank at the Loggerhead Turtle marine center.  I turned off my flash and held my camera steady near the glass - perfection!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

City Place

Ohhh...I had such a nice evening at City Place in West Palm Beach.  An open air shopping plaza with restaurants, shops and a movie theater. 

I wandered through Anthropologie, admired a cake in the window of Sugar Chef (the cake looked like a cat perched on a ball of yarn!) and sat on a bench admiring the music-timed fountains.

We had a lovely dinner outdoors on the upstairs patio of City Celler (grilled orange glazed shrimp with risotto - yum!).  The restaurant is under the awning behind the fronds of the palm tree on the right.  We would have sat there indefinitely, if we hadn't realized that we had time to catch a movie.  What a night!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


When I was a child, shuffleboard was my favorite Florida sport.  For a few days each year, it was my go-to activity and had a wonderful time challenging my Dad or brothers to a game. 

When I saw this empty shuffleboard court, with the "biscuits" left just so, I had a take a picture.  It was morning and I was alone on the court, or I know I could have talked someone into playing with me. 

This blog post is just for fun - a reminder of all the games I used to play here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

White Chocolate Shells

Has the shore ever looked so sweet?  I have fallen for these white chocolate shells that I saw in the bakery of the Publix Greenwise Market.  Aren't they charming?

I was just at Sugar Craft (a cake & candy supply store in Cincinnati) admiring their wall of beautiful chocolate molds and now I am sending you to them with a link!  I bought several outstanding molds that day (stay tuned - Spring is going to be great!) and now I can recommend shell molds at Sugar Craft too.  I think the finishing touch is dusting the chocolates with pearl dust.  I can't wait to get these molds and make these edible shells for myself! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meet Ryker

I never thought that I would get to see a turtle this close, but look!  Here's "Ryker", the Loggerhead sea turtle swimming by the window to pose for a picture.

While I was visiting my parents in Florida, my Dad took me over to see the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.  Ryker was one of 4 injured sea turtles getting individualized care in outdoor swimming tanks.  The sign near his tank says that Ryker was found beached and unwell and that the turtle doctors have been giving him "antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and nutritional therapy."  Isn't that wonderful? 

This guy sure didn't expect a human to come to his rescue, but I can tell that he is grateful.  The marine center has a great display inside the building showing turtle facts, illustrations and life cycle information.  Apparently, the beaches of South Florida (particularly Juno Beach and Jupiter) are some of the most actively nested areas in the world!  Who knew? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Private Conversation

Now this is a private conversation!  This couple on a beach walk are the only people as far as the eye can see.  If ever there was a chance to really talk, it is here.  

Lately, conversations have taken a backseat to multi-tasking.  Talk on the cell phone while you: grocery shop, return library books, drive.  I find these conversations to be stilted and unfulfilling.  When we sit down to talk, we should be giving each other our undivided attention, don't you think?

I wish you a glorious week full of great conversations.  You deserve to feel like this couple - the only two people in the world.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Orchid Paradise

Isn't this orchid stunning?   I had a field day when I visited the American Orchid Society's national headquarters in Delray Beach, Florida.  Their greenhouse is an orchid lover's paradise - I loved it!

I always stick to the easy-to-care-for Phalaenopsis orchid when I'm decorating, but maybe I should replant my silver terrarium and use an exotic orchid like this as a focal point.  Hmm...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Angela Moore

Do you know Angela Moore?  I have loved her whimsical painted-ball bracelets for years.  They are a bright and happy way to make any outfit special.  Her company was founded on elastic ball bracelets painted in themes. The multi-color balls would showcase all monkeys or pineapples or flip flops.  Really cute!  I'll never forget buying an Angela Moore bracelet sporting pink & green whales! So preppy and so much fun.

Every year I visit her shop on in Palm Beach and check out her latest designs.  This year she has moved her shop onto Worth Avenue and expanded her line to include some great resort wear.  If you haven't seen a display of Angela Moore's bracelets, you should.  The colors are intoxicating and you will simply WANT one.  Go ahead, order a catalog and try to decide the perfect theme for you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Life Guard

Can you see the silhouette of the lifeguard holding up binoculars in the lifeguard station?  It's a Bay Watch moment.  I didn't realize that these little buildings existed, but what a great idea.  The lifeguards can stay out of the sun and focused on work - protecting their flock.

I took this photo along the shoreline in Palm Beach, Florida - what a gorgeous day!  The sunbathers were happy and most seem to be heeding the life guard's yellow flag, meaning moderate risk for large waves and rip tides. on the shore. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lunch By The Pool

One thing that I like to do on vacation is head to a resort to enjoy "lunch by the pool."  If you are staying with friends or renting a place for a few weeks, it is a nice to take a break and invite your hosts to head over to a fancy resort for lunch.  Make sure to leave time to shop in the gift shop (cute bathing suit cover ups and fun travel items), wander around the pool and then sit down to enjoy a delicious lunch in a tropical setting.

This is my cajun-grilled chicken sandwich and a fresh green salad - yum.  I think everything tastes better outside, and when you add some palm trees and a giant waterfall, lunch becomes a meal to remember.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rachel Ashwell

I am so happy that I had the chance to meet Rachel Ashwell at a Country Home magazine "Be Creative" event in New York City way back when.  I love her Shabby Chic/faded rose/soft color world and am so happy that her brand continues to thrive.  Did you see her contribution to the Feburary 2011 Country Living magazine?  I'm with Rachel, off-white canvas sofas are timeless!

You can see her at the event in the distance, signing books for a few ladies near a table she had decorated with layers of lace, ribbon, roses and feather plumes. 

After I took this photo, I walked over to her with one of her books (Shabby Chic) and she was as relaxed as can be while we talked about the event and she signed my book.  No lines, no security, no restrictions.  A bunch of women at a beautiful event, enjoying the sun and sharing notes about living a creative life. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jungle Jim's

I love groceries, but this place is designed to feel a little crazy!  I went to the largest specialty food store (and self-proclaimed world market) I have ever seen...Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio.  I had heard about it several times and took my chance to finally visit on the way back from Cincinnati.

The store covers 1 1/2 acres of floor space! 50,000 international food products, schools of live fish in tanks, the claim of every jarred pickle on the market.  I went for the spectacle (see the giant swinging Campbell's Soup can above), but ended up falling for the place.

You know how much I love packaging, right?  Well how I didn't realize ahead of time that this kind of store would be filled with beautiful boxes and cans, I don't know.  But when I wandered into the Japanese aisle, it all became clear.  Ohhh...Japanese candy - I've got to see that!  (Remember my Japanese candy collage?)

A water aisle? they have Voss?

A section for England?  Do they have Fortnum & Mason tea? (Sadly, no)  Biscuits? Lemon Curd? (yes!) 

I think I had the most fun in what I call the "International Soda" section.  I carefully chose some unique and beautiful soda pop cans that I will be using as vases very soon.

In addition to being a grocery enthusiast, there is one larger reason why I like this store so much.  Every international aisle was full of shoppers from that part of the world, speaking their native tongue and happily putting family favorites "from home" into the cart.  Unusual Indian spices, canned lychee juice, dark sauces, dried kelp sheets. 

Jungle Jim's is like the "It's A Small World" pavilion for groceries and I couldn't help but feel like this was what America was supposed to be like. Everyone feeling special and catered to, all in one place.  I loved it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jam Jars

Would you ever believe that a jam jar could work so beautifully as a vase? 

All I did was glue a length of vintage ribbon around a classic Smucker's jam jar and...Voila! 

You see, I was at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market and I happened to find a booth that was all vintage millinery items (gorgeous!).  The dealer sold her collection of ribbons and seam tape by the yard.  I bought a yard of the print that you see above, a spool of mauve thread and a card of buttons.  It was so much fun.

I am telling you this because now is the time to be rinsing out and saving your glass jam and salsa jars.  Spring will be here before you know it and you will need them to make some super cute vases.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tea: A drink with jam and friends

Jam and friends is what we all need right about now.  March in Michigan is what I call "seven shades of gray" and I think some scones and tea (and some conversation, of course!) would do us all a world of good.

I happened by a stenciling demonstration at the 2010 Country Living Fair and this darling cloth caught my eye.  It had been printed with the variation to Maria Von Trapp's "Tea, a drink with jam and bread" lyric.  So great!

So this cloth is my inspiration.  I am heading into the kitchen now, to whip up a batch of Sticky Fingers scone mix.  I'll be humming all the while...

Tea, anyone?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Goodfellows Dolls

Remember when my Mom and I bought clothes and dressed dolls for the Good Fellows organization?  I promised to let you know when the announcement went out looking for volunteers this year. 

I received an email looking for a commitment to dress dolls.  Over 12,000 dolls will be given to girls age 4-9 in Detroit at Christmastime this year.  If you are interested in helping, please read the details of the program below and contact Sari Klok-Schneider about the Goodfellows Doll Program.  You can click the "Doll" link on the Goodfellows web page and download the doll request form there, if you are able to participate.  Thanks!

Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit

PO Box 44444
Detroit, Michigan 48244-0444

Dear Doll Coordinator:

We will schedule the Doll Coordinator’s Recognition Luncheon for mid-May and will advise you of the date soon. In the meantime, please return the enclosed form as soon as possible so we can get you signed up for the 2011 program (dolls do go fast). We are hopeful that dolls will be available for pickup around the time of the May luncheon.  Thanks as always for your tremendous gift of time and talent. We greatly appreciate all of your efforts and look forward to your participation again this year.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cocos Chocolate Cafe

When I was talking to Beth about my visit, I told her that I would love to buy some bourbon chocolates while I was in Kentucky. 

I love bourbon and have been missing my favorite bourbon chocolates (made in Nevada) that was discontinued/changed when the brand was purchased by another company a few years ago.  I told her that I had a recipe for bourbon chocolates (that I had never tried) but other than that, I had nothing.  If I was going to be in bourbon country, I needed some bourbon chocolates.

She delivered!  Beth and her husband found Coco's Chocolate Cafe on Bardstown Road and I was able to meet Owner and Chocolatier, Fred Moore.  Seeing is believing and when he stepped behind the counter of gorgeous chocolates (see above) in a white chef's jacket and tall paper hat, I knew he meant business. 

I sampled one of his bourbon chocolates (sold!) and bought a box of nine...all bourbon.  He told me that he uses only Four Roses Small Batch bourbon in his bourbon chocolates - yum!

Because of the variety, Beth's box is more beautiful so I am showcasing it here (Bourbon Chocolate is on the bottom right).  But I can promise you, no one has ever been happier with a box of chocolates than I was.  Viva la Bourbon!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hot Brown

I love when I find out that a city has a signature dish.  I had driven in the rain from Cincinnati (I was on a weekend trip)  to Louisville to spend the day with my dear friend, Beth.  She moved to Kentucky a million years ago and I was so happy that I was finally going to be able to meet her children and spend some time with her.  I had barely arrived when, after kicking around some lunch ideas, she realized that I had never had a "Hot Brown."

It was settled - we were on our way to Lynn's Paradise Cafe,  a quirky, vibrant restaurant with its own "World of Swirl" novelty gift shop.  When my Hot Brown arrived, I could see what all the fuss was about.  A homemade Mornay sauce (which is Bechamel sauce with grated cheese) flooded an open-face turkey sandwich topped with bacon, tomato and cheese.  It was rich, creamy and memorable, for sure.

But hands down, my favorite part of Louisville was being able to sit in a booth across from my dear friend.  Nothing compares to eye contact and after ten years of Christmas cards and emails, we had a lot of story-telling to catch up on.  I loved every minute of my visit and I can assure you, I will be returning to Louisville just as soon as I can.  Beth, I miss you already.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vintage Cheese Labels

You know what I love about modern life right now?  Scanning.  And then Printing.  And then Crafting. 

I love that I can take vintage items, scan them and then print them a million different ways without hurting the original.  This process preserves the value and charm of the antique, but allows me to use the image over and over again.

At Christmastime, I was trying to think of a unique way to package some of my handmade necklaces as gifts.  I decided that if I decorated a small round black tin, it could serve as both the "gift wrap" and "jewelry box" for the necklace later. 

I scanned this antique French cheese label that I bought in Paris at the flea market and then printed the image onto clear sticker project sheets.  All I had to do was cut out the round cheese label "sticker" and adhere it to the top of the tin.  (I did add a touch of copper glitter to the dirt road to add some depth, but it was a piece of cake.)

I decorated three tins this way and they turned out beautifully - the tin was a gift in itself!  And I still have the original cheese label and the cheese label image stored on my computer.  It is a win-win scenario, over and over again.

Have you ever scanned something precious and then felt free to experiment with the printed copies?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shades of Green

I long to look outside and see shades of green.  For those of us that live in a cold climate, we see an awful lot of gray.  But now that the first of March is here, Mother Nature promises that the worst is over and that Spring is "the next big thing."  Hallelujah!   

I've been scouring the garden catalogs (Burpee, Gardener's Supply Company and White Flower Farm) to soothe my green thumb.  I am making a list and at the top is some Bombast Rose Poppy seeds.  Remember when I discovered this plant in England?  I can only hope they will thrive in my zone.  Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, let's get lost in the million shades of greens in my photo above.  I took this picture a few years ago on a farm and can almost picture Kermit swinging on that swing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Beekman Seeds at Williams Sonoma

What could be more fun than telling people that you are taking part in the world's largest "community" garden?  I love this kind of thing and I am completely on board.

What makes it even better?  My dear friends are "The Beekman Boys" - the brains behind this fun promotion to revive heirloom vegetable gardening.  They star in a show on Planet Green called, The Fabulous Beekman Boys.  You can see a picture of us here

You can buy their seeds at Williams Sonoma and then log into the Beekman Boys website to register for growing tips (customized to your zone) and participate in a forum for great recipes, garden help and to see photos of other gardeners progress with the same seeds.  So smart!

But what makes this even more personal for me?  My grandmother always, always talked about "French Breakfast" radishes and I remember telling her that one day I would try growing them.  When I opened the package of Beekman seeds, out slid a packet of "French Breakfast" radishes.  You can't make this stuff up.  Gardening here I come!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet for a Cupcake

"We should meet for cupcakes."  It sounds so much better than "meet for coffee," don't you think?

My dear friend Barb has made it a tradition that when she comes back into town for a visit, our friends all meet for cupcakes.  She is a genious.  Sometimes 5 of us make it, sometimes it is just Barb and me, but it is really fun.  

We have coffee too, of course, but nothing tastes more like friendship to me than a homemade cupcake.  This beauty is called "Boston Cream" and I swear I could have eaten two!

With the surge of cupcake stores opening up around the country (world?), it is likely that you too can find a sweet spot to meet a good friend.  Plan a "moment of delight" where all you need to do it catch up over some frosting.  You'll be so glad you did.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

French Pastries

Do you love it?  I have placed some "Sweet Treats" decals by Graphique de France in my kitchen and it looks like I have spent the day putting my pastry skills to work!

I happen to have a 2-tier hot pink glass cake plate (doesn't everyone?) that I loaded with apples, lemons and clementines to extend the look into reality.  Neat, eh?  It really makes you stop and look when you walk into the kitchen.

Love it!  And since the red-wine poached pears looks so tempting, I want to direct you to a quick and easy poached pear recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food - they are delicous.