Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent By Candlelight Table

We had such a lovely night.  My mom and I hosted a mother/daughter table at our church's Advent By Candlelight last night and it was a big success.  I know because our table was the last one still seated and talking long after others had started to pack up and go home.  And I swear the coffee was decaffeinated!
Our theme was "A Vintage Christmas" and we used some darling bon bon bedecked paper goods (that said Merry Christmas on them!) to highlight our pink and green table.   Our vision all came together when we gave our table scape some height by filling two glass hurricanes with my collection of vintage ornaments.  Pink and green and gold, oh my.  And when the overhead lights were turned off and all of the tables were lit by candlelight, it looked even more old-fashioned.

When we were planning our table, my mom wanted me to bake my chocolate cake "cottage" with butter cream snowdrifts as our dessert.  Of all the cakes that I make, this is her favorite and she knew that it would be the perfect centerpiece.  She was right.  Everyone wanted to know where I found the cake pan and loved the little touches, like the fact that I made the sidewalk coming from the front door look "shoveled."  Ha!  
The pan is the "Gingerbread House" from Nordic Ware and I just love it.  It bakes perfectly every time (I like Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix in "Chocolate Fudge" and homemade butter cream frosting) and unmolds like a dream as long as you use "spray with flour" (like Baker's Joy) and wait exactly 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven before you try to unmold it.

Come on, you know you want one.  I also use this pan as a Housewarming Cake - people love it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preparing for Advent By Candlelight

Tonight is Advent By Candlelight at my church and the preparations have begun!   Over 400 women will participate in this quiet evening that celebrates the beginning of advent. 

There will be a church service (a sanctuary filled with women singing!), followed by a chance to walk around and admire the different table decorations and then an hour or so for tea and dessert.  My mom and I are hosting a table this year and spent last night setting up our table with vintage ornaments, pastel place settings and lots of candlelight.  I will show you tomorrow - it looks beautiful! Remember our "Marshmallow Snowstorm" table that we designed a few years ago?

Today is filled with baking tonight's dessert (a chocolate cake with homemade butter cream frosting) and...driving my final draft of my book to the printer! The epitome of a modern woman's life - baking, business and blogging.    

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Walking Through Fields

I literally pulled off the road when I saw this fence cutting through the landscape.  Doesn't it look beautiful?  I knew that if I stood right in line with the posts going into the distance, it would have a photo that would spark the imagination.

Did it work?  Have I gotten you thinking?  When I see this photograph, my mind ping pongs between scenes from Anne of Green Gables (remember how she would walk to Diana's house?).  It also makes me want to go on more picnics!  

I'm putting that on the calendar for 2013 - I am going to write "picnic" in now blank margin of June.   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sea Glass Goddess

My friend Corinne is a Sea Glass Goddess.  The bounty you see here (carefully divided by size and color and stored in an empty organic egg carton) was found by her, one piece at a time on the shores of Oahu, Hawaii.

Sea glass makes her happy.  The quiet beach walks.  The thrill of finding a glint of color in the froth of waves and sand.  She has been making jewelry for almost a year now from these tiny treasures and her inner artist is coming out.  Her pieces of clean, beautiful jewelry speak for themselves.  And after giving her lovely necklaces and bracelets as gifts to family and friends (believe me, I am spoiled!), she is beginning to sell them.

If you love the sea, you might just need a piece of classic jewelry made by a sea glass goddess.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Cottage

Someone is a genius!  Look at this sequin-bedecked design that uses a rectangular gem as the front door.  I just love it!

This Christmas Cottage was stitched by my sister-in-law's mother onto a Christmas stocking (from a pattern) at least thirty years ago and it is still as cute as the day it was made.  

I saw it and instantly wanted to create a house like this of my own on a small pillow.  Have I? Not by a long shot.  Writing and publishing this new book of mine has taken up every extra minute these last few months, but any day now I will be able to announce that it is for sale (in time for the holidays!) and then I can get down to some serious crafting and baking.

I will get out my felt, sequins and thread and embellish something with my own little Christmas Cottage.  Maybe I should stitch this design onto a guest towel.  Or an ornament?  What do you think?  Pillow, hand towel or ornament?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Cookie Dough

Today I make 4 batches of my grandmother's (Nama's) sugar cookie dough.  Two batches with go in a freezer bag (wrapped in wax paper first) and into the freezer until I have more time to bake. And two batches will become holiday shapes like trees, stars,bells and sweaters. After baking and cooling, I will freeze them too.  The day I am ready to decorate them, it will take just an hour or so on the counter and they will be room temperature and ready to frost.

I do a lot of baking this time of year (and know a lot of cookie eaters!) so this is the best way for me to get ahead.  All of my Thanksgiving side dishes will be made on Wednesday.  Today, we bake!

Nama's Old-Fashioned Rolled Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter in mixing bowl. Beat in sugar, egg, milk & vanilla. Add flour, salt & baking powder. Mix well. Divide dough in half and wrap in waxed paper. Chill in refrigerator at least one hour. Use plenty of flour on board, rolling pin & cookie cutters to prevent sticking. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 375* on an ungreased cookie sheet for 5-8 minutes.

Nama's Cookie Frosting
Mix 2 Tablespoons of hot water to 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix with knife. Tint with a drop or two of liquid food coloring. Note: Using hot water makes the frosting shiny. Add hot water as needed to perfect consistency.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anne's Holiday Coffee

I have been experimenting with different ingredients to make the perfect hot coffee drink and I have formulated a winner!  This coffee drink has a touch of alcohol for flavor, not kick.  You can easily have a cup and feel like you are indulging in a holiday treat, without the negatives of many of the high octane and whipping cream-filled holiday drinks.

Holiday Coffee

Brew 4 cups of decaf coffee.  While the coffee is brewing, mix together 1/2 cup of Fat Free Half & Half, 1/2 cup of 2% milk, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 block of unsweetened Bakers chocolate.  Microwave this milk mixture a minute or two until the liquid is hot and the chocolate melts when stirred.  Add 2 Tablespoons of Jim Beam Bourbon and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  Pour the hot decaf coffee into the milk mixture and serve in pretty coffee cups.  Top with a puff of real cream Reddi-whip, if you wish.

This hot coffee drink is perfect to share with friends and family gathered for the holidays.  

(Note: The photo above is a coffee from a restaurant in Paris.  I drank my Holiday Coffee last night before I had a chance to get a good picture!) 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The cover of "Finding Delight: Ideas and Inspiration to Enhance Everyday Life" by Anne Reeves

Tah-dah! Today I can unveil the cover of my new book, Finding Delight: Ideas and Inspiration to Enhance Everyday Life!  It is in the final stages of production and will be available for gift giving this holiday season.

Finding Delight is a 135-page soft cover modern coffee table book dedicated to the joy of finding delight in everyday life. With a full-color photograph on every page, topics include: "Living A Life of Layers," "Visual Vitamins" and "The Power of Cute."   

I believe that the best life is a varied life.  When hobbies and travel collide with friendship and collecting.  Where sugar rules and stories matter. I've been writing about Finding Delight for years and I have woven my methods and mantra into these pages. As you read, pay attention to the pages that capture your imagination. Notice how happy you can feel, simply by thinking, by remembering.  I find delight all over my different times of day, in different cities and settings, with people that I love and in strangers that I meet. This is delight.

If you would like to receive my e-Newsletter to get more information and to stay in touch, sign up in the sidebar in my blog. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holiday Cards as Art

Sometimes a little art is just the touch your kitchen needs during the holidays.  I have always loved this painting by Monet called, The Magpie.  When I received it as a Christmas card last year, I saved it with the thought that I would frame it someday and hang it by the telephone in my kitchen.  

Last month I found the perfect piece of scrapbook paper (red with aqua polka dots), and today I cut the paper to size and taped the Christmas card to it.  Once it was behind glass in the frame, it looked like it has been professionally framed with a mat. Magnifique!

Do you have a few Christmas cards from years past that were so beautiful you had to keep them?  Maybe you should chose one, find some coordinating scrapbook paper and frame it for your kitchen.  If you haven't saved any, keep your eye out for something beautiful in your mailbox this holiday season.

I am hoping to receive lots of warm holiday messages written in Caspari cards this year.  They have a beautiful selection of elegant cards, and I particularly love this one called, Snow Tree with Fence.    

Friday, November 9, 2012

Easy Ornament Storage

Have I got an easy holiday storage idea for you!  Turn the compartmentalized plastic containers that they sell apples in at Costco, into safe storage for delicate Christmas ornaments.  

You can see that I also use the empty plastic egg cartons (2 dozen) for my smaller vintage ornaments.  I love this method and I wanted to share it with you.  

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so get to it!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quiet November

It is November. Take time to enjoy the quiet.  The depth and detail of this room in the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg looks like a painting in this light.

I chose this photograph to represent the quiet of being at home.  I am working at my desk in a quiet house, putting the finishing touches on my book.    

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Turkey Cake Pan by Nordic Ware

This is just a friendly reminder to order your cornbread turkey pan by Nordic Ware now, so that you can get it in time for Thanksgiving.  The moment that I saw this pan debut on The Martha Show, I had to have it.  It works incredibly well with not quite 2 pouches of Marie Callender's Corn Bread Mix.  Once it is baked, you level off each side of the turkey with a large bread knife and frost the two sides together so he'll stand and be 3-D.  I use a few toothpicks inserted on an angle to stabilize the seam and then I prop my turkey in a pie plate full of whole cranberries to help him stand up. 

I have also used one side of the mold to make a molded cranberry relish.  I served it on a bed of ruffled green leaf lettuce.  This was a pretty and festive dish to display on a large holiday buffet.

Come on, you know you want one.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Presidential Election Day

It is a very exciting day!  Today we vote.  I found this photo of mine that depicts "Michigan" in a stone mural that I saw in Washington, D.C.  

This installation is on the ground, so you can walk around on the 50 states and perhaps even map your route home.  This is my bird's eye view of my favorite place.  I thought it was a fitting photograph for an election day.

If you happen to live in Michigan, you can go to and see a preview of your ballot.  It is very helpful in preparing to head to the polls.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Antiquing for Ornaments

I surreptitiously took this photo at an antique show this weekend.  I knew the vendor wouldn't mind since I am trying to inspire you to collect and appreciate vintage ornaments.  Aren't they beautiful?

I have quite a collection myself, remember my vintage ornament tree?  And since my mom and I are using vintage ornaments in our Advent By Candlelight tablescape, I am about to find out exactly how many I have!  

She is coming over on Wednesday and we are going to pour over all of the ornaments and choose which ones to display in our two glass hurricanes.  We are concentrating on pinks, greens, gold and silver.  I can't wait to show you.

But I am a little nervous to actually get them all out.  You know how you are a collector, you pick up a few items here and there over the year, but until it is all on display in one place, you are never quite sure what you have?  I have a feeling that I have a lot more vintage ornaments then I think I have!  Blame the rummage sales, I tell you.  I had a lot of luck lately and I promise to do them justice in some lovely holiday displays this year.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


In the no man's land of decorating between Halloween and December 1st, I like to buy and display violets.  I can put a grouping of five on a large tray in the family room or a just one in a pretty planter on the front table.  The hearty blooms add just enough color and warmth in the dim light of November.

Violet plants are inexpensive, come in beautiful shades of pink, wine and purple and have leaves that seem appropriate in the cold weather (a delicate plant just won't do).  I can easily move them upstairs when I start my Christmas decorating and best of all, they require very little care.

Have you given any thought to violets lately?  They just might warm up that table in the den.