Saturday, March 31, 2012


Would you believe that my dogwood is blooming in March?  And I'm out of town, of course, so I'm missing it.  It shouldn't bloom until the first two weeks of May (four to six weeks from now!) but the petals were forming when I left for the airport and I know that by now it is in it's full glory, wafting in the breeze.

Since Mother Nature is rushing things, I am posting a dramatic photo from my dogwood tree last year.  We can all take a moment and pretend that we've seen it in person and that we haven't missed a thing, can't we?

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Ocean as Art

Sometimes I have to pinch myself.  This is the guestroom I get to stay in while visiting family in Florida.  The ocean is literally outside of this high rise condo!

And I am in complete agreement with the decorator.  When you have a floor to ceiling view of the Atlantic, it is the only art the room needs.  A bed with pretty shabby chic linens, a lamp and a view. 

Occasionally I keep the "room darkening" shade open so that I'll wake up when light comes in.  That way I can push aside the curtains and watch the sun rise in my pajamas.  That is a moment of delight.  

MSU Alumni Newsletter

I'm so thrilled that the Michigan State Alum newsletter named me as a "Spartan on the Move" and gave a wonderful review of my book, "Paris: Delight in the City of Light."

"Anne Reeves, ’91, has written and photographed a tantalizing book on Paris. In Paris: Delight in the City of Light (ANA Designs, 2011), she covers all the highlights a visitor might want to experience, from markets, flower stalls, pastry shops and boulangeries to restaurants and must-see places in everyone's favorite city. A photographer and blogger, Reeves has put together a photographic “how to” book full of useful tips for visitors. Patricia Wells, culinary author, calls it “A delight, page by page, bite by bite!" The book is a soft-cover coffee table book available from or directly from her website,"
The only sticky wicket is that I am out of town for Easter vacation! All book orders will be inscribed and shipped on April 12th. Thanks for understanding.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I think most people would rush to Photoshop and edit the wires out of this picture.  But they are exactly what I like about it.  A representation of how we all need to be connected to the rest of the world.

My guess is that these wires are bringing electricity to this little house - bringing light to a simple cottage when night falls.  This building is on Little Cranberry Island off the shore of Bar Harbor, Maine.  A quiet and secluded part of the world...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Refresh Your Terrarium

It feels so good to have a bit of green in the house. I think that March is the perfect time to plant (or in my case refresh) a terrarium.

My niece was coming over after school last Wednesday and I knew that she would like this type of garden project.

I got ready by stopping by the garden supply store to buy stones (to promote drainage), charcoal (to keep the greenhouse "sweet" - it somehow keeps the air/soil smelling fresh) and Soil Moist (to return moisture to the soil in between waterings). I also bought 4 small plants with a variety of leaves.

We reached into my dry and desperate terrarium that had long since given up the ghost and removed the elements that we could still use: a birch twig that I found outside the cottage last Summer, 3 stone-shaped candles, a paper butterfly- and we dumped the rest into the trash.

The rectangular base has a plastic liner that I line with a plastic bag. Then in goes a layer of small rocks, then charcoal, then a few inches of top soil with Soil Moist mixed in. The plants, decorative elements and pieces of moss make all the difference in an interesting terrarium. I still want to find a dollhouse-size bench...wouldn't that be the cutest?

We made our own little secret garden and situated it in the living room. A little sign of life as we wait for Spring.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Painting Plates

Once you figure out your style, you can build and layer on the look for your entire life.  Would you believe that I painted this dinner plate (and 3 other plates, 4 bowls and 4 dessert plates) more than 10 years ago?

Long before the blog; long before I was inspired to share "delight" with the world; I was still me, and this is proof.  Ha!

I bought a set of inexpensive glass plates (at Kmart?) and set out to paint a set of dishes.  Don't you love the design?  Lavender roses, tiny green leaves and hot pink dots. 

Always paint on the underside of the dishes, then there is no risk of paint chipping off into your food.  By painting on the back, the part of the plate you eat off of remains pristine.

The glass paint is dishwasher safe when you fire it in the oven, although I hand wash this set, just to be safe.   

So the dishes I collect in 2012 (Chelsea) compliment the plates I painted in 1998?  Think about what you love, and when you are shopping, think about how your choices will be able to mix and match with what you already have.  You'll be living a "life of layers."    

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wallpaper Placemats

It was a moment of clarity.  After really thinking about using my "Chelsea/Grandmother's China" collection in a tablescape, it came to me.  I had an unopened roll of Laura Ashley toile wallpaper in lavender.  It would be the perfect backdrop for antique dishes with lavender markings, right?

I carefully cut 4 large pieces from the roll and covered them (on both sides) with clear contact paper.  Then I sewed a simple lavender ribbon trim down both sides to give it strength (and incentive) not to curl.  It probably would curl a bit on a plain wood table, but placed on my while matelasse tablecloth, it clings perfectly.

So pretty! And I feel like a design genius for coming up with this idea.  It is interior design, recycling and DIY all rolled into one.  Magnifique!

Tomorrow, I'll show you how I painted the coordinating plates.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Little Lemon Tarts

My electric citrus juicer is in the running for my "Most Used Appliance" this Spring.  My go-to flavor has been lemon lately and I just can't get enough of it. 

I want to pin down the best Lemon Curd and having been experimenting with a variety of recipes.  This batch was made with Ina Garten's Lemon Curd, sans the lemon zest.  I wanted an absolutely smooth curd for these tarts.

The best part?  I used store-bought shortbread shells.  Trust me, with homemade curd as delicious as this, the shell is merely a vehicle to get the lemon curd into your mouth.  And on a weeknight, any tart shell is a welcome tart shell in my house.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sensory Overload

I can hardly think.  In a surge of organization, I have brought all of my fabrics out of the chest of drawers upstairs and into my office!  These are the fabrics I use to line my cigar box purses ( and they are too pretty to be hidden away any longer.

The question is whether I will get any work done now that I have sensory overload in my office.  I keep coming up with ideas.  I could make a crazy quilt!  I could make pillows, napkins, dishtowels...

If you need me, I'll be in my "office." 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pop Up Village

Wouldn't you like to shop in this little village?  This is my favorite pop up book, James Herriot's Yorkshire Village.  The description on the book jacket says that the illustrations by Jane Reynolds and paper engineering by Paul Wilgress were inspired by the series, "All Creatures Great and Small," which was a tv series based on the books by James Herriot.  Do you know it?  I don't, not at all!

My mom has always loved paper buildings and she gave me this book a few years ago.  I've recently started displaying it on a table in my family room as art.  I love to look at this 3-dimensional scene from different angles and let my mind wander a bit.  There is a church yard, a cottage with a garden and two village scenes with shops etc.  It comes with townspeople too, that you can stand up with a paper support and have them move about the village.  I mean, who wouldn't want that?   
Can you see the shadow of the cat in the doorway?  And you should know that the windowsills open and close, exposing detailed rooms behind.  So cool!  It is like a collapsible paper dollhouse. 
This is the kind of item that has me reiterating my motto, "Never Underestimate the Power of Cute."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dreamy Lace Curtains

Gorgeous! I took this dreamy photo of a guest bedroom at a friend's cottage in Maine.  I wanted to show it to you today to remind you to notice the changing light of Spring. 

The days are a little longer.  The shadows are different.  The area of the house that is "a bit dark" can change this time of year and you might want to light a lamp in a different part of the room. 

Take time to notice which window has light streaming in.  Grab the Windex and make sure that window is sparkling.  It is time for a Happy Spring.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas, Payard Patisserie

You ask if I just wandered Las Vegas tracking down all of the French masters?  Pretty much, but would you expect anything less?

On this particular day, I was focused on Francois Payard.  A friend in my book club gave me an autographed copy of his book, Simply Sensational Desserts and I have been swooning over the recipes for months.

This heavenly display was at the Payard Patisserie and Bistro within Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.  I arrived at lunchtime and ordered a Crepe Supreme (Chicken and Mushrooms in a Mornay Sauce).  It was made in front of my eyes (see below) at the cafe counter and it exceeded my expectations.  It was divine, truly. 
I walked around inside Caesar's Palace, the pool area and down into the large gallery of shops - it was fun to browse inside a Judith Leiber handbag shop - I saw all of these $5,000 purses in person - my pick? The Beehive. 

After an hour, I wandered back to Payard and tried 2 of his homemade ice creams - pistachio and tres leches.  I was hot and cool ice cream sounded wonderful.  I enjoyed them, but looking back at my photographs, I can see now that I should have tried the pear millefeuille (shown in the center).  Next time!  

Monday, March 19, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas, Bellagio Botanical Gardens

The theme this year was Springtime in Holland, and the Bellagio Hotel's Botanical garden did a nice job bringing giant Dutch shoes, a windmill and swaths of real blooming tulips together into an indoor garden oasis.
My favorite part was the live poppy garden at the entrance.  Poppies are delicate and to coax them to bloom and thrive indoors is a feat, in my opinion.  These tissue-paper thin blooms captured my heart and I have vowed to buy a few plants at the garden center this Spring so that I can enjoy this kind of whimsy at my house.
 If you visit, be sure to look up!  Giant paper mache bees and poppy-print umbrellas punctuate the air above the garden - lovely!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas: Olives by Todd English

When I knew that I was heading to Las Vegas, Olives by Todd English was my first reservation.  I love his little place Figs in Palm Beach Gardens and it was just the kind of dinner I was looking for.  Warm, earthy flavors in a modern setting - I haven't been in the mood for formal dining in a while and Todd English's style was exactly what I was looking for in a night out.

I loved the two types of silky tapande that was offered to spread on their sweet olive-studded rolls.  The crunchy cheese-baked crackers were delicious and the fresh green salad with a honey mandarin viniagrette was so light and refreshing.
I enjoyed my grilled sirloin with ("buffalo mozzarella whipped potatoes, sautéed broccolini, roasted cipollinis, sweet & sour morel mushrooms") and the entire experience was lovely.  The perfect place to enjoy an fine meal and it is quiet enough to have a nice conversation.  Bravo, Todd, you've done it again.

Friday, March 16, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas, A Little Paris

Sweet, no?  I had to stop by the hotel, Paris Las Vegas, while I was in town.  You can't drive by the Eiffel Tower all week and not go in, at least for a croissant, right?  The shopping area is cobbled streets, false storefronts and as you can see, the ceiling is painted like the sky.  It really is neat and a fun place to stroll after dinner.  I found the casino, which is directly behind me in this photo, to be not too loud or smokey, so this stroll was very pleasant.  The shops here used to sell authentic French merchandise (dishes, tea towels, mustards and such) but I didn't see anything in the shops worth visiting.  If you come, make sure it is for a sweet treat and casual stroll, then you will not be disappointed. 
When we were in the cab heading back from the Stratosphere, the cab driver knew where I wanted to go, but was urging me to stop and see the new Cosmopolitan Hotel instead.  I appreciated his enthusiam, but I told him, "You can never talk a girl out of Paris."  Ha!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas: Stratosphere, Level 107

Now THIS is a room with a view!  I took this photograph while standing in the Level 107 Lounge at the Stratosphere Hotel (looking over into the "Top of the World" restaurant) and all I could think was, they aren't kidding.  This is the top of the world.
We met up with some old friends at Level 107 and enjoyed drinks and appetizers while the sun went down and the lights of Las Vegas came on.  As you can see, my shrimp cocktail was gorgeous - "three large Mexican prawns with cocktail sauce, fresh horseradish and Yucatan-style shrimp ceviche."

*sigh*  I loved it.  I also talked Dan into giving me one of his mini Kobe burgers and after two bites, I didn't want it to end.

While we were reminiscing, Executive Chef Rick Giffen stopped by our table and let us in on some fun.  He'll be cooking in an upcoming episode of Food Network's hit show "Chopped" - airing sometime in September.  He said to look for Episode 13 of Season 12.  Fingers crossed that 13 is his lucky number! 

At 1,149 feet, the Stratosphere is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.  If you come to Las Vegas, you simply must see the city from up here.  We went out onto the open air observation deck to take pictures and soak up the view.  While we stood outside in the night air and shared a quiet moment, people were arriving with something else on their mind. 

You see, The Stratosphere is also a magnet for adrenaline junkies.  There are four spectacular things to do that will have you telling the story for years.

You can do a "controlled free fall" in a harness from the 108th floor (Oh yes, I'm serious, I saw a blur shoot past the window and overheard, "There goes one!").  You can be strapped in a seat and held by a mechanical arm 64 feet away from the building (and 900 feet in the air) while it spins - yikes.  Or you can sit in a roller coaster car as it teeter-totters back and forth (off the side of the building and 866 feet off the ground) until it feels like it will go right off the track.  It stops at the last second, but I'll tell you, I had a hard time watching it from the terra firma of the observation deck.  But what a great photo!

Viva Las Vegas, indeed.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas, Jean Philippe Patisserie

Ooh la la!  This display case is a pastry-lover's dream come true.  I was lucky enough to visit the Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. 

My sweet treat was a raspberry rose macaroon.  I inhaled a rich cream pouf of pastry cream surrounded by fresh raspberries and sandwiched between two pink "crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside" rose-flavored macaroon discs.

It was very girl-y and very delicious.  I look happy, don't I?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

City Series: Las Vegas, Dale Chihuly

I am living a little "viva Las Vegas" this week. My husband is attending a work conference and I decided to tag along and check out a few places that I have been wanting to see since my last visit.

One thing on my list was returning to the Bellagio to see the Dale Chihuly installation in the main lobby. The last time I was here my camera did not capture the color and patterns in the low light. Tah-dah! I got it.

The piece is mammoth, and this is only one section of a very long piece, but I think it really lets you see the individual shapes and colors and how they were installed together. You can see the entire piece from a distance here.

A wonderful thing about Las Vegas is that it exposes interesting art (and design elements like flowers and landscaping) to a very large and varied audience.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Nice Change Appetizer

I was hosting Euchre Night and really felt like serving something new. I had a taste for Mediterranean flavors (I couldn't shake my mood for lemon and olives) and I remember seeing a recipe by Alicia of Bella Cucina in a magazine. 
Her recipe used a jar of Bella Cucina olives (a blend of olives, citrus and olive oil) warmed and served over feta cheese.

I bought several types of canned and jarred olives (plus one package of sun-dried Greek olives that are dried on the tree!) drained and warmed them in a sauce pan with good quality olive oil, strips of fresh lemon peel, whole fennel seeds, and hot pepper flakes.
I put about a cup of this olive mixture with some of the flavored oil (but not too much) over the slices of feta and baked it in the oven until the cheese was soft. I served it with crackers and it was a hit.

Did you notice my shell-topped toothpicks? Those were for my "maybe I'll have just an olive" guests. Nothing like reaching in and spearing a lemon-scented olive.

You'll notice that I also served a bowl of cubed watermelon. I love the taste of feta and watermelon together as a salad, so I thought having it available to snack on would round out the appetizers.

It was a great night and I've found a new savory appetizer. Plus I still have half of a large snap lid jar of the olives, lemon, oil mixture to use in the next 2 weeks.   Since I'm enjoying it so much, I also want to strain off the flavored oil to make a salad dressing.  The good ideas just keep coming. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pretty Pretzels

A new friend came over for a visit this week and brought with her a sweet treat.  Don't these look great?  The packaging was perfect too - a stack of hand-decorated pretzels in a narrow cellophane bag.  The layers of colors and textures looked so good together.

I took them out of the bag, arranged them on this plate (covered with cling wrap) and I have been breaking them apart and eating them section by section all week.  Yum!  I'm determined not to "save" them, but to eat them at their peak as intended.

I love them all, but my hats tips for the white chocolate pretzel with the white sugar crust.  The sugar gives a lovely crunch and the white chocolate tastes perfect with the salty pretzel underneath.  In fact, I think I will make something in white chocolate with a sugar-crust sometime in the near future.  And you'll know it all started here.

Have you ever made chocolate dipped pretzels?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shell Matches

It was divine inspiration that had me glance at my box of loose shells and imagine the tiny sand dollar glued to the top of a match box.  The natural piece that was too delicate for jewelry, could be perfectly protected on top of a match box.  Shells are everywhere in decorating right now, and adding a touch of the sea makes perfect sense in my aqua and white powder room. 

Ocean-colored soap, lightly scented candle and a sand dollar topped match box. Never underestimate the power of glue.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tea Party

It all began when we started talking about our mutual love of England.  Which led us to agree about the importance of afternoon tea.  She mentioned "Lyle's" syrup; I said, "What's that?" and it was all over.  We were going to have afternoon tea - she'd bring the homemade scones and I'd make my lemon curd.  What fun!

My new friend, Kathleen and I have bonded over tea.  Shouldn't more friendships start this way?  I have found a kindred spirit.

And knowing she was coming over had me polishing my silver teapot-shaped trivet, pulling out my teapot-topped teaspoons and choosing my color scheme for the table.  It was fun and it had been too long since I had focused on tea.

We drank Yorkshire Tea, devoured the two kinds of scones that Kathleen made with her grandmother's recipes - one sturdy scone slathered with butter and Lyle's golden syrup (a sticky sweet brickle-like syrup) and another fruit-studded scone paired with homemade sweet whipped cream and we talked.  And talked.
If you like this kind of thing and know if someone who is also a tea lover, maybe it's time to invite them over for tea.  It just might be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I found myself standing over a sink filled with lavender-scented bubbles this morning and when I looked over at the plates drying, it looked so pretty that I thought I would show you.

A friend came for tea yesterday (I'll tell you about the fun we had tomorrow!) so this morning I took my time and hand-washed the antique dishes we used.  

One of my favorite dish washing liquids is the lavender scent by Farmhouse.  The soap is gentle and the suds smell wonderful.  Wash, rinse and set your dishes aside to dry on a monogrammed dishtowel.  Celebrating the beauty of everyday moments.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mount Vernon - Wow

Virginia is on my mind.  I have booked a trip to visit friends in Richmond this Spring and doing so has me recalling a glorious day trip to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.   

When I was there in 2009, I blogged about it here (3 posts will appear when you click).  The photos and musings were from outside Mount Vernon, because photography is not allowed indoors to protect the antiques.
I was able to take this photo of the kitchen (see it here on the estate map) because in those days kitchen were built in separate buildings to protect the main house from kitchen fires.

Have you ever been to Mount Vernon?  What made me say Wow! in my blog title is the improvements to their new website.  Now anyone can "visit" Mount Vernon and take a virtual tour!  It is fantastic.  I want you to click the links and tour 2 specific areas: the small dining room on the first floor and the cupola on the third floor.

Okay, first I wanted to show you the small dining room with the striking green paint.  Can't you see yourself eating a roast beef and potatoes in here?  "Please pass the gravy, Mr. President."

The other must-see area is on the top floor - you can see the 360 degree view from the rooftop cupola.  Why, yes, that is the Potomac!  It boggles the mind that you can "see" the view exactly as George Washington could see it.  Well, the trees are taller, but still. Beautiful. 

Click around this exceptional feature and see for yourself.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sugar Packed Apricots

Ahhh...the simple joy of eating sugar-packed apricots in the middle of Winter.  I really think you should try this simple process sometime in August, so that you can pat yourself on the back next February.

First wash pint-size glass Ball jars and lids in the dishwasher and then place them on a clean dishtowel nearby.

Mix 2/3 cup of white sugar with 2 teaspoons of Fruit Fresh.  Wash 1 quart of fresh apricots, slice them in half, remove any bruises and remove the pit.  Mix the apricots with the sugar/preservative mixture and let stand for 10 minutes while the sugar dissolves.  Gently fit the apricot halves into each jar and pour in any sugar syrup that pooled around the fruit.  Leave about 1/2 inch of head space, so that the fruit has room to expand as it freezes.  Place the lid on the jar, screw on the top and freeze.  

I labeled my jars with these darling labels from Lilly Pulitzer.  Even apricots wanna be super cute!   

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is In Like A Lamb

Have you heard the saying that March comes, "Comes in Like a Lamb and Goes Out Like a Lion" or vice versus?  One side of March is always dramatic.

Well this year the entire Winter has felt like a lamb.  It has been unseasonably warm, mild and practically snow-free.  It is just not right, and when I say right, I mean that it is not "okay with me." 

I like snow and cocoa and scarves and having to stay home and make soup because the weather is so bad.  I like Michigan Winters (although I am known for escaping to Florida for a week or two) but still!

What has really rattled me is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published the new plant hardiness zone map for 2012 and they have changed the zones.  They are now classifiying my area as Zone 6a!  This part of Michigan has been Zone 5 my entire life and now is has been reclassified as warmer based on weather trends and statistics.  Wow.  

So my question is...does this mean I can have a lemon tree now?