Monday, November 28, 2011

Swedish Christmas Fair

This gorgeous open face sandwich was my lunch last year at our local Swedish Christmas Fair.  The ladies took a piece of homemade bread and topped it with cold beet relish, Swedish meatballs, fresh parsley and cucumber.  Yum-yum-yum.

Am I Swedish? Nope.  Have I ever had this kind of sandwich before?  No, I haven't, but I loved it.  This post is dedicated to encouraging you to explore your neighborhood and participate in the fun holiday events that are open to the community.  A tree lighting?  Gift show?  Historic Holiday Tea?  You never know who you will meet or what kind of interesting experiences you can have.  Make this holiday season special by attending a new event in your area.

Check your local paper and look online for holiday events.   

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sugarland

Holiday baking season is here and you will be amazed at the selection of sprinkles, sugars and jimmies at your local cake and candy supply store.  I was taken to this marvelous "sugarland" called Heinrich's Decorating Nook by my friend Allison.  She makes a run here every November to get the chocolate and peppermint crunch she needs for her holiday candy making.  When she mentioned her pilgrimage to me, I jumped at the chance to go with her and see this sugar supply store for myself.  Now I am a part of her annual trip and last week was my 5th year going with her.  We wander up and down every aisle and have a wonderful time imagining all the varieties of candy we could make.  In the end we always settle on our now-famous toffee.  December 18th is the big day this year and I am really looking forward to having her over for a fun day of toffee making.

Want to find your own sugarland?  Google: "(Your Town), cake decorating" and you will see a list of options in your area.  You won't be disappointed - the selection is greater and the prices are better than any grocery (or craft) store where you might be tempted to shop for cake and candy decorations.  Have some fun!   

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Sweets

If only I could buy my holiday sweets here!  I was out today shopping for mints and candies to set around in dishes around the house this season, and my mind kept going back to Fortnum Mason. They have the prettiest windows in London and this delightful display of sweets and treats had me swooning on the sidewalk.

What do I really want for Christmas?  Fortnum Mason has music box cookie tin that plays "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and is filled with 3 kinds of cookies.  Doesn't that sound darling?

I've always loved music boxes and for a while now I have wanted to take a cigar box and turn it into a music box.  Since I'm not going to London anytime soon, maybe this should be my first project in 2012.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Be sure to take lots of pictures today - friends and family, the big meal, the centerpiece.  Even if the photos never leave your computer (or phone), years from now you will look back on them with love.

*this photograph is of a kooky gourd display at the Country Living Fair.  The class was about using nature to inspire your table displays.  I love the pale shades.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cookie Walk

I'm in charge of recruiting members of our congregation to bake cookies for our church's annual Cookie Walk.  Do you like my super cute sign up sheet?  I used photographs from my holiday magazines to make a mouth-watering display.

Have you ever been to a Cookie Walk?  I think they are really fun.  A Cookie Walk is a fundraiser that sells homemade cookies during the holidays.  The cookies are displayed on trays and people stroll along “the walk” shopping for cookies.  A gloved committee member places the cookies as they are selected into the shopper’s box.  At the end of the walk, cookies are weighed and sold by the poundIt's genius! 

The congregation comes together to bake their personal favorites (I love when someone tells me about their signature cookie); Shoppers get delicious homemade cookies during the holidays and the church makes a little money.  Win-win-win. 

This is a photo of the cookies I made for last year's cookie walk (10 dozen, with the help of my niece and parents!).  They sold out quick!  This year I am making my famous gingerbread men.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shining Silver

Are you doing a little late-night silver polishing in anticipation of the holidays?  Years ago a friend talked me into using Nevr-Dull (a treated cotton wadding found in auto supply stores and Walmart) to polish my silver.  She swore by it and I fell under the spell of easy polishing. 

It worked so well (and so fast!) that I put all fears of damaging my silver aside in lieu of getting the job done.  Since then, I have been relieved to hear many silver care experts touting the wonders of Nevr-Dull.  You can hear it for yourself from the restoration experts at Center Art Studio.

If your silver is looking gold, do yourself a favor and get a tin of Nevr-Dull. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sharing Recipes

I want to direct you to some favorite recipes of mine...along the right side of the blog margin called "Anne Reeves' Favorite Recipes.

The Chocolate Acorns, Pumpkin Cups, Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry Glogg (plus breakfast ideas: Baked Pecan French Toast and Baked Tomato Cups) are all perfect for entertaining this time of year. 

My kitchen is your kitchen and I hope these recipes can enhance your holidays. xo Anne

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chips and Ships


The Pilgrims liked cheese dip, right?  In our version of American history they did.  Every year at Thanksgiving, I can't resist making a "Mayflower" for the appetizer table to hold our chips.

I bought this boat basket by Longaberger back in 2002, and although it was expensive, I love it.  I use it in the Summer for parties at the cottage and every November it quickly converts to the great ship that carried the Pilgrims to our shores.  The link above is to an eBay page where I found this basket still for sale, if you are interested.

As for constructing the Mayflower, I place an apple in the boat (there is a plastic basket liner that keeps things clean) and spear it with a wooden skewer.  I cut 2 paper sails (one smaller than the other) and make a flag for the top.  I also make a small paper "Mayflower" banner that I tie with string across the back - so cute!

I think I saw the idea for making a Mayflower in a Martha Stewart issue of old, and I have been doing it ever since.  Just about any oblong shape tray or bowl could replicate a boat.  Come on, you know you want to. 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Vintage Postcard Pillow


I'm working on a project that I can use to liven up the living room this Winter, once the holiday decorations are all put away.  January can be so quiet and gray - I thought that this scene would add an air of mystery and elegance.  And when finished it should be about 6 x 9 inches - the perfect size to put on my lap and rest my book on when I'm reading. 

I found this lovely vintage postcard at an antique store and I am going to print it on a special fabric sheet (8.5 x 11) by June Tailor and sew it into a small accent pillow for a chair.

If I turns out as well as I think it will, I'll add it to my Etsy store in late January.  What do you think?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Royal Wedding Mug

My cousin Jennifer in Germany saved the day!  She remembers all too well my love of Princess Diana and when she realized that her husband was taking a trip to London just weeks before the Royal Wedding, she offered that he could pick up a souvenir for me. 

The one thing I was desperate to have from William's wedding was something porcelain with the couple's photo and the wedding date.  I have mugs and plates from Diana's engagement, wedding and the birth of William, so I needed another piece of china to continue to my collection.

I absolutely love it!  Her husband picked out the perfect mug and Jennifer carefully carried it back to the US on her latest trip!  I am so grateful for their thoughtfulness and care.  And included with the mug was a collection of newspaper clipping (in German) for me to keep, as well.  So nice!

Jennifer and Michael - thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Belgian Lace Roll Basket


Say that five times fast: Belgian Lace Roll Basket (ha!).  But I can't think of any other way to describe it.

This beautiful addition to any holiday table was a gift from my husband when he was on assignment in Europe.  He went on a day trip to Bruges, Belgium and described it as "Chocolate shop, Lace shop, Hot Waffles - repeat."  He loved it, actually and climbed the 366 steps to view the city from the Belfry Tower.  

Somewhere between the tower and a waffle, he wandered into a lace shop looking for a gift for me and saw the grandmother/shopkeeper who makes these collapsible roll baskets.  She was working on one when he entered the shop and bought one on the spot.  When not in use, the lace lays flat like a doily.  But tie the opposite ribbons together and a 3-dimensional structure appears before your eyes - each compartment perfect for a dinner roll.  Does he know me or what?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Delight 2012 Calendar

By popular demand, I have made a "Moments of Delight" calendar for 2012.  You can order it from Zazzle: 2012 Moments of Delight calendar and have it in time for holiday gift giving.  At $21, I hope it is the perfect price point for meaningful gift giving to teachers, friends and neighbors.  Please note that there is a discount for ordering multiple copies.

These are some of the images in the calendar.  I've chosen these to put the spotlight on the delight in everyday life.







I will feature my Paris calendar tomorrow.  You can find info in the blog sidebar, as well.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pastries in Paris

I've written a gorgeous 120-page book on Paris with a photo and story on every page.  Because of my book, people always ask me: "What's your favorite thing about Paris?"  Since the list of what I love about Paris is long, I usually tell them favorites from a couple different categories: 
  • Favorite Pastry
  • Favorite Time of Day
  • Favorite Spot in a Museum
  • Favorite Garden
  • Favorite Gift to bring friends
This approach gives them something to think about, has them look at Paris in different way and often ends in a sale of my book because they realize that there is simply too much to remember - which is why I needed to put it all in a book in the first place! A very fun cycle, don't you think?

All of this has me thinking about Paris even more, so today I am spotlighting my favorite pastries in Paris - where and how to eat them.

  • Favorite Formal Pastry - the pink Ispahan (far left) at Laduree.  Dine indoors on a pale green paper-covered table on the Champs-Elysee.  The ispahan is pink, you get to eat a real rose petal, the meringue is crunchy sweet and the cream center and fresh raspberries are divine.

  •  Favorite Macaroon - a 6-piece assortment from Pierre Herme.  Eat them on a nearby bench at Place St Sulpice.

  • Favorite Millefeuille - at a table with friends at Angelina's on Rue de Rivoli

  • Favorite Treat to eat out of a bag while you walk: Financier from Laduree - a small rectangular or almond shaped (2 bite) cake that holds it's shape, as a resiliant sponge texture and a delicate almond flavor

  • Favorite Cookie: a box of Punitions from Poilane bakery is full of tiny fluted butter cookies that are perfect with tea in the courtyard of your hotel.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Joy of Making

I had the most wonderful time making this little village with my tween niece.  I picked her up after school, gave her a snack and offered her the option of "working on a project" with me since she didn't have much homework.

I had built two of the buildings that morning, so she could see where we were headed and as I started to fold and bend and glue the paper kit, she munched on her snack.  It wasn't long before she was completely entranced and ready to help me expand the town.  We cooed over the pastel barn; we congratulated ourselves when we figured out how to make the bell hang (from sewing thread) in the church bell tower.  It was so much fun. 

I would say our best moment was when, after fumbling with tree construction, we gave in and read the directions and realized that the tree branches were supposed to be held aloft and apart on cinnamon stick trunks.  Thank heaven I have a well-stocked pantry!  I pulled out a jar of cinnamon sticks and the trees went together quickly.  What I liked about this moment was that it showed her that whoever planned this darling paper village was creative and willing to do something ridiculous in the name of making it cute.  A cinnamon stick is the perfect trunk.  It looks like wood, is the right scale and it smells wonderful. 
I can imagine that the person who designed this village had to stand behind this idea in a corporate office somewhere.  "But cinnamon sticks aren't a household item," they would tell her.  "It's too much to ask of the crafter to buy additional items." etc.  But the designer persevered and they were right. 
If it's cute, it is always worth the effort.

Do you want to make a darling village like this?  It is a Swell Noel Village Kit that you can order online.  Make a little magic after school.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beach Glass

My dear friend, Corinne, is loving her new life in Hawaii.  The "vacation" weather every day has spurred a new hobby for her.  A daily walk on the beach combing for beach glass.  Doesn't that sound wonderfully relaxing?

A package arrived in the mail the other day - a bubble wrapped bag of beach glass!  She knows that I am a crafter and has challenged me to "make something cute." 

Also tucked in the envelope was a delicate bracelet made of green Swarovski crystals surrounding a beautiful piece of green sea glass!  Now that she has a Dremel (drill attachment) that can drill a hole in glass, her foray into jewelry making has begun!  What a wonderful thing.    
I am going to visit her in Honolulu this Winter (yea!) and I can't wait to see what she creates between now and then.  Thank you, Corinne, for your beautiful gift from the sea and I'll see you soon!  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old Fashioned Rolling Pins

I saw this box of antique rolling pins for sale at the Country Living Fair and I had to take a picture.  I can't help but feel a little sentimental for all the grandmothers that relied on these tools to make their house a home.  Look at how worn the handles are - that is proof of love, if I ever saw it.

I treasure my grandmother's rolling pin - it has been missing one handle since before I was born, but we still used it every December to make sugar cookies for the family.  You can see it and get Nama's cookie recipe here.

I was given a fancy-schmancy rolling pin a few years ago and it works like a dream.  But I always get out Nama's rolling pin too.  It's been part of my holiday baking and it wouldn't be the same in the kitchen without it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Imagining an Escape

Last year we were able to sneak up north for a few days in November.  I absolutely love a cold Fall day on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Look at the colors I captured!  I love the steep drop off and how the sand dune is even with the horizon on the right.  The sand at Sleeping Bear Dunes was the color of wheat and the stormy sky told us to enjoy it quick because rain was coming. 

We went home and built a wood fire in the fireplace, I did some knitting and made a batch of soup.  In the Summertime, the area is jam packed with visitors and this sand dune would be covered with enthusiastic climbers.  But when the cold days of November come, the peninsula feels deserted and the color palette changes completely.

The calendar won't allow a trip up north this month, so I am imagining "being there" with this beautiful photo, just like you are.  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted Good Morning America's Most Beautiful Places this year and now you can see why - it's just as pretty when there is no one for miles.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Decorating with Plastic and Wood

This might not be what you think of when designers refer to mixing plastic and wood pieces in your home - but why not?  This post is to show you that "lighthearted" decorating touches don't have to look kitschy.

The new stars of the dining room are three plastic deer that I found at an antique show this weekend.  They have poise, grace and look amazing with the natural tones of my cherry dining room set.

The theme is not woodland.  I don't have a deer embroidered on every napkin.  I just happened to see this family and knew I would never find them again if I didn't buy them on the spot.  When I got home, it was clear that they could take center stage in the dining room. 

Something plastic and inexpensive can look nothing short of beautiful when displayed in the right spot.

The fun part?  I picked up the mother deer and her fawn ($5 for the pair) and as she was wrapping them, the dealer told me that she had broken the antlers on the buck that morning.  Oh no! I would have loved to have the father too, I told her.  To which she proceeded to rummage under her table until she pulled him out and said, "You can have him."

To her, he lost all of his value because of a few broken points.  But to me, keeping the family together is priceless.       

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christmas Tree in Macy's Walnut Room

Christmas has come to Chicago!  I wish I could have been there to see the 104th tree lighting ceremony that kicks off the holiday season on State Street in Chicago.  I was there in 2007 (see above) when Martha Stewart flipped the switch on this magnificent tree.  It is a Christmas memory that I cherish.

Today, Bill and Giuliani Rancic and a child invited by the "Make A Wish" foundation lit the 45-foot tree in Macy's famous Walnut Room.  I wish that I could have been there.  A beautiful tree, some gingerbread cake and a whole lot of Christmas spirit. 

I will do my best to salute Thanksgiving and all the glorious food and family that goes along with it, but the lights and baubles of Christmas have certainly turned my head.

If you are in Chicago, try to visit Macy's on State Street - the decorations and window displays are worth the trip!  And if you can arrange to have a meal in The Walnut Room, you can dine next to the prettiest tree in town.

Want to see something fun?  I found this time-lapsed video (only 1 minute long) of this year's massive tree being constructed.  Love it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Art of Dining at the Detroit Institute of Arts

I love to bring the world a "Moment of Delight."  You never quite know what topic I will blog about - food, art, travel, crafts.  Hopefully by now you can count on me to show you something that is beautiful and interesting.

Today I am putting the spotlight on an interactive exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts called "The Art of Dining."  It has been over a year since I visited, but I am sure that it is a permanent part of the collection and I look forward to seeing it again when I visit the museum this Winter.

In the gallery of eighteenth-century decorative arts, there is a table and four chairs.  Museum visitors are encourage to take a seat and "participate" in a formal dinner that is projected on the table (that serves as a video projection screen).  Some of the French porcelain serving pieces and silver on display in the cases in the galley, were used to make this formal dinner footage.  Isn't that neat? 

The video is on a loop and begins with empty plates and clean silverware.  As the meal progresses, you see the "arm" of the dinner guest (dressed in period costume) reaching for food and interacting with the table. 
Words appear on the screen periodically to define the type of food served at this formal dinner - you can see (above) "Steamed Stuffed Artichokes in Red Pepper Sauce."  All the while, observers at the table hear the clinking of silver on dishes and the light banter of dinner conversation in French.  I absolutely loved it.
Can you see that now the stuffed artichoke is on the plate?  He was reaching for it in the photo above.

At the end, I slid over to another chair.  I wanted you to see what it looked like to be a woman with a puffy sleeve reaching for miniature cakes.  So pretty!

I found this article online from when "The Art of Dining" interactive installation opened and amazingly, you can click a short video on the link and see this table in action.  I do encourage you to see it.  What you can see clearly in the video is that the silver showpiece in the center, is on display behind glass right next to the table.

French Porcelain is art indeed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Paper Touches

Scrapbookers...is your paper stash living up to it's potential?  I want to show you a few simple things I have done with paper to make my power room look finished.

I started by building a look around a Bella "Capri Olive and Lemonwood" candle (from Target) that comes in a paper-covered tin - it looks great and smells fresh and wonderful.  You could ceratinly rim your own tin with 2-coordinating papers and it would look darling! Go a step further and make a simple candle for it with a kit from the craft store.  

Long ago, I decoupaged two images from a set of Cavallini Decorative Labels- Paris onto an empty jam jar.  One side features the Eiffel Tower and on the other side I chose this interesting crest.  By facing the crest side out and filling the vase with fresh variegated sage leaves and green envy zinnias, I am echoing the tan and green tones in the candle.  Cute, eh?

My final touch was to glue scrapbook paper in the same tones (a bit like this) to an empty matchbox with craft glue.  For a perfect fit, trim the excess paper off with an Xacto knife.  I placed a "gem" sticker on top to finish the look.  Now the candle has some matches and the whole look makes sense.

I hope this inspires you to glue/decoupage paper to vases and matchbooks to make a few quick and easy design elements for your home.   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

My oh my, you must try this peanut butter pie.  But it is so rich, I recommend a slice half this size.  In fact, you may want to rework this recipe and make it as individual servings in a mini-muffin pan - that amount would satisfy any sweet tooth.

I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and although I avoided buying and gorging on them for Halloween, I caved and made this pie instead.  Nice.

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tablespoons milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pre-made Oreo cookie crust
3 oz bittersweet chocolate bar (I used IKEA)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Gently fold back the metal rim of the pre-made Oreo crust.  Place your open hand onto the plastic liner for support and flip the crust over so that the bottom of the metal tin is on top.  Keeping it upside-down in your hand, remove the tin pan.  You will have the crust resting upside-down on the plastic lid.  Place a small glass pie plate on top of the crust, then flip back so that the crust is in the glass pie plate.  Good job.  (Or crumble the crust and press into the bottom of individual mini-muffin tins - as suggested for portion control)

In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and milk.  In a separate bowl (using the whipping attachment), whip cream until medium peaks.  Fold into peanut butter mixture. 

Fill the crust with the peanut butter mixture and smooth.  Place uncovered in freezer for 3 hours.  

Before you remove the pie after freezing, make a ganache coating.  Break up the chocolate bar into a small empty metal saucepan.  Heat the 1/2 cup heavy cream in another saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Pour the hot cream over the broken chocolate bar and whisk until smooth and melted.  Remove the pie from the freezer and immediately pour the chocolate ganache over the pie, completely covering the surface.  Return pie to the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the ganache to set.

Remove from freezer, cut (small slivers!) and serve to an adoring crowd. 

Then eat fruit for dessert the rest of the week.  Love, Anne

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Terra Cotta Pots

I kid you not, I was drawn to this display of pots like it was a bouquet of flowers or plate of cookies.  I was at a country fair and these matching Terra cotta pots were for sale in rows in an open basket.  I didn't buy any, not for lack of ideas of what to do with them, but mostly because the weight of these pots was not conducive to a day of shopping.

That didn't stop me from day dreaming about them, though.  I imagined them in a kitchen window, with a different herb in every pot.  I thought they would look darling at Christmastime, 3 tiny boxwood "Christmas" trees displayed on the mantle of a fireplace.  I'd tie a red and white check ribbon around each rim. 

Enjoying the beauty of every day things doesn't mean you always have to buy everything you love.  Sometimes giving yourself permission to imagine the possibilities is enough.  What would you put in these beautiful pots?