Friday, May 31, 2013

Bald Eagle

Delight in America! I took this photo of our national bird, the Bald Eagle, on the beach in front of the cottage on Lake Michigan.  I was easily 200 feet away, but was able to get this photo be using the zoom on my Nikon CoolPix P90  and shooting through a window on the second floor.  What a thrill!

My parents confirmed that we have a pair of bald eagles that nest nearby and that they often see them soaring over the water or sharing a fish on the beach. Up until now, I had only seen them in the sky.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pastel Stripe Marshmallows

Target has done it again! Bringing limited edition or otherwise hard to find items to their store shelves.

Do you remember when I wrote pastel marshmallows by Rita Farhi?  Well I found these lookalike pastel stripe marshmallows at Target in the specialty candy section!  Not everyone has the resources to order specialty candy from Europe, so here is a readily available option on this side of the Atlantic.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013 Leland Plein Air Painting Event

Painting by Brenda J. Clark

I was "up north" in Leland, Michigan when the Leelanau Community Cultural Center (at The Old Art Building) hosted their first Plein Air Painting Event.  

Artists were to register online and then on the day of the event, they were to bring their canvas to the Old Art Building between 9-10 am to be stamped (on the back) by the Plein Air committee to complete the registration process.  Then the artists were free to chose a spot somewhere in and around Leland to paint or draw.  The art was to be completed by 4 pm and submitted with a frame to the committee.  At 6:30 that night, the artists and public were invited to a reception at the Old Art Building.  The paintings and drawings were on display for the guests to admire and purchase.  A portion of each sale went to support the Leelanau Community Cultural Center.
What a success!  I was jealous of the talent and amazed at the landscapes that these artists were able to create in just one day.  I was fascinated by the entire process.

While Dan and I were out and about that day, I noticed several painters next to streams or on bluffs throughout the bright and chilly day, painting from their chosen perspective.  We noticed so many, that I felt that I was pointing out rare birds. "Look! There's another one!"

When we walked down toward Fishtown, I ran into Brenda J Clark.  I had stopped to admire her work - her painting of Fishtown is shown on the easel above - and as we chatted, I realized that I had met her before.  She taught my best friend, Kim in an art class at Michigan State University and they have remained friends.  A few years ago, Kim had taken me into Brenda's art gallery, which is now located in Suttons Bay, Michigan.  
I absolutely love Brenda's bold use of color.  Her work table reminds me of so many of my projects mid-stream - you can instantly tell that big things are going on.      
Viva la Plein Air!  Bravo, Leelanau Community Cultural Center for bringing such a wonderful event to Leland!  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blossom in A Pear Tree

So sweet!  I know that my blog can't consist solely of birds and blossoms, but since my philosophy is to find delight in the beauty of everyday moments, I must share these Springtime beauties with you.  A pear tree is only in bloom for a week or so (luckily I was at the cottage to capture it!) and I particularly like this photo with the blurred blossoms in the distance. I know that you can get this effect with certain lenses (or is it afterwards with Photoshop?) but I assure you that this was completely by accident.  It makes me love it all the more.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Party at The Cove in Leland

The famous "Here Comes The Sun" Party on Memorial Day at The Cove in Leland, Michigan could be heard for blocks.  The live music and shoulder-to-shoulder crowd proves that this party tradition is here to stay.  Mild mannered me was heading into the local grocery store (The Merc!) when I heard the commotion and was reminded of the annual fun.  I walked out on the bridge over the waterfall in Fishtown to take some pictures and admire the fun.

If I'd had a Diet Coke with me, I would have leaned on the bridge and stayed awhile to enjoy the music.  The walkway was full of onlookers and it felt so good to stand in the sun enjoying the view.  Here comes the sun, indeed.
The Cove restaurant is such a favorite of chef Mario Batali, that he has it named it (along with loving the Traverse City area in general) in his top 10 Foodie Destinations in-the-world.  Imagine!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Art is Personal: Vintage Sheet Music Sets the Mood

I made my own art!  I was given a few scores of vintage sheet music from a friend whose step-grandfather had been an movie theater organist during the silent movie era.   He contributed live music and sound effects to bring the silent pictures to life.  Throughout his life as a pianist and music lover, he amassed a huge collection of sheet music.  

My friend's family inherited his boxes of music and, knowing that I love paper, he chose a few pieces that he thought I would like to craft or decorate with.  I was given free reign to do with them whatever I wanted, but I have been too chicken to actually use the originals.

Being a photographer, I had the brainstorm to photograph the cover art (from the 1906 sheet music) and send it to the printer at Costco.  I ordered a poster of my JPEG made from "museum quality semi board."  It is stiff enough to stand on it's own on an easel (shown here, it is propped on another painting temporarily) and light enough to mount with poster putty.  Neat, eh?  I am so happy with the result and am really pleased that I did all this while still preserving the antique papers.  I love when art and technology collide!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paula's Veggie Sandwich

I am working on a recipe from memory.  When I was growing up, I spent my summers in northern Michigan.  Every so often my mom and I would be at her good friend, Paula's beach house at lunchtime and she would make us veggie sandwiches.  I had never had anything like it and to this day it sticks in my mind as one of my favorite sandwiches ever.

As an adult, I've asked her what her secret was, but between us we can only remember that it was a variety of ripe vegetables mixed with a bit of mayonnaise and shredded cheese mounded between bread and then grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich.  I remember that it included fresh shredded lettuce (which I thought was outrageous in a hot sandwich), cauliflower, green pepper, tomato, onion and zucchini. Oh to be twelve years old again and eating a sandwich in the sun on her patio.

I decided to try my hand at this beloved sandwich yesterday and this is the result.  Delicious and close...but not perfect yet.  I used smashed avocado to bind it all together (instead of mayo) and chose a sharp shredded cheddar.  Next time I am going to choose a milder shredded cheese and add more light mayo and less avocado - my version was too much like an avocado sandwich.  

Delicious, but not quite right. I want the fresh taste of the other veggies to shine through.  Part of the success of this sandwich is chopping the vegetables into tiny cubes.  They hold together easier and are oh-so-good.  Have you ever had a grilled veggie sandwich? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Delightful Work Event

Look at how pretty my "work events" are!  I am so very lucky to have met my new friend, Julia.  She was introduced to my blog and books through a friend of hers that is a Presbyterian minister.  Julia liked what I was doing to bring the world delight and wrote to me to see if I would like to speak a tea party.

What fun! She arranged the whole thing and invited a variety of friends to spend a "delightful" afternoon having tea and hearing my thoughts on finding delight in everyday moments.  We enjoyed this table full of beautiful tea party fare and relished a little "girl time" in the midst of a hectic Spring.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lily of the Valley

My best friend has a large backyard that is beautifully landscaped with sun and shade areas.  The shady sections are almost completely covered with Lily of the Valley - my estimate is at least 5,000 pips!  Her family loves it and for a week for two in May, the air is heady with muguet du bois.

And right around this time of year when I get an 8 am text - "are you awake?"  She stops at my house on the way to work bearing 2 giant bouquets of Lily of the Valley that she picked that morning.  One bouquet is for me; one is for my mom.  In the language of flowers, this gesture most surely means: love.

Thank you, Kim, from the bottom of my flower-lovin' heart.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Own Little Muppet Baby

I don't think I'll ever take another photo of a baby robin that I will like better than this one.  This is Gayle, with her beak wide open and her hair all askew.  She is my own little Muppet Baby.  Tiny, cartoon-like with a big personality.

I was so very happy when a mother robin came back to nest in the crook of the gutter on my house again this year.  Remember last year when she had 3 baby boy robins named Reggie, Brice and Steve?  This year I decided that they were girls and named the three little darlings, Charlotte, Stella and Gayle.

One of them is far more insistent for food, eager to try squawking and most often found hanging her head out of the nest looking for someone to talk to.  I've named her Gayle.
You can see Gayle (above) in the nest craning her neck past Stella in hopes of being fed.  I love this photo because both Mother and Father Robin really look like parents.  They are sitting next to each other on the nest, looking at the kids and considering what is best for them.  I can see the nest from my family room window.  The photo isn't as clear because I'm shooting through glass, but it is nice because they can't see me (due to glare) and be bothered in any way.
When it was lunchtime (above), the Mother Robin didn't mind me standing in the yard and photographing them at all.  I used my zoom and stayed still.  I think she is used to me puttering around the patio tending the roses and watering the herbs.  It was just another day with triplets for her.  Notice the winged bug in the tip of her beak going right into Gayle's mouth. A worm is farther up her beak to be fed to Charlotte or Stella. 

If I get any more great shots, I promise to show you.  Happy Spring!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spatterware Violas

Do you know what I mean when I say "Spatterware Violas?"  I'm posting a link to a website that sells new enamelware in the Spatterware style, so that you can see what I mean.  I have a vintage enamelware gravy boat in a light blue Spatterware pattern and it looks so much like these violas!  In truth, this speckled variety is called "Viola Columbine."  

I made a little bouquet of violas (and pink and white stock) and put them in a vintage blue glass bottle.  Love love love.  Doesn't it look charming with my collection of Chelsea china?  I love having fresh flowers on this bakers rack in the entryway and these violas will tide me over until my deep blue clematis blooms.  Spring is here and I can finally have bouquets in the house!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cookie Monster: School Birthday Cupcakes

I'm sure it wasn't an accident that the "Garden Club Girls" moved in next door to me all those years ago.  They have brought me an incredible number of delightful moments just by being themselves and allowing me to share with them the things I know about baking, sewing crafting etc.

I helped Anna put a plastic spider onto a necklace for Halloween (She was a vampire).  I was able to help Cate with her shoe box-size "dream bedroom" project by contributing scraps of pretty fabrics to make the bed.  And, of course, our specialty is baking a Trick or Pie when we can in October.

But time marches on and the girls have grown up into lovely young ladies (14 and 16!) with far more time spent on school and sports and far fewer hours to horse around with their neighbor.  Until last week, that is, when Cate requested my help in frosting her birthday cupcakes.  Yea!  She had seen Cookie Monster cupcakes (where the Cookie Monster was eating a cookie) and was sure that we could re-create it.  

We made 24 bright blue monster cupcakes and the fact that we frosted them together made them the most delightful cupcakes in the world. Happy Birthday, Cate!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Candy Pearls for Sweets and Treats

I know I'm kind of girly, so I can only feel proud that my friend saw these beautiful French sugar pearls and thought of me.  My friend, Alison surprised me at euchre with these beautiful edible decorations.  She said that I "had to have them."  Isn't that the nicest!  

I love to bake - these will be so pretty on my cakes and cookies. 
I love these colors - they look so pretty in my aqua kitchen that I've left them out on display, and my friends have been commenting on how beautiful they are. 
The company that makes them is based in Paris - my favorite place!

I guess these are the picture perfect thing for me.  Alison, you know me well, thank you - thank you.

I had never seen any products from Eric Bur in stores, but when I went to his website online, I could see item after item that I would love to try.  The standout?  Candied lilacs!  I found them for sale online here.  

I love using candied violets on sweets and treats, but I had never heard of candied lilacs, have you?  My own lilacs are just beginning to bloom, so I am in a lilac-loving mood.  I took this photo this morning and tomorrow I plan on making some lovely arrangements for the house.  Are your lilacs blooming?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Decaf Ice Cream

I know! You've never heard of decaf ice cream before.  I thought I would make my point about the perils of enjoying certain late night desserts, while sharing
my wonderful coffee ice cream recipe.

I love love love coffee-flavored desserts, especially Tiramisu (which contains espresso) or a simple bowl of coffee ice cream.  The problem is, I am very sensitive to caffeine and one great coffee-flavored dessert means that I will still be awake at 2 o'clock in the morning.

Why restaurants don't make decaffeinated desserts, I'll never know.  So I decided to promote this rather simple concept by posting my recipe for: 

Decaf Coffee Ice Cream 

Mix 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed 2% milk, 1 (5 oz) can of evaporated milk, 2 cups of whole milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 4 Tablespoons of instant decaffeinated coffee crystals (or 2 1/2 - 3 T. of decaffeinated espresso crystals) together and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill. Once the mixture is cold, pour it into the freezer container of an electric ice cream maker and follow the ice cream maker instructions.  If the consistency of the ice cream isn't firm enough, place the container in the freezer to set. I sprinkled my decaf coffee ice cream with a few mini chocolate chips. 

Serve and enjoy during Saturday Night Live with no worries.  Good Night!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Burpee Healing Hands Salad Mix

I know a good thing when I see it.  This pot (shown on top) is my new "Salad Garden."  When I was at the garden center, I noticed pots of Burpee's "Healing Hands Lettuce Mix" already growing and ready to harvest (the link is for the seeds only; check your garden center to see if they sell the lettuce already growing!).  I can cut lettuce as I need it and watch it grow and replenish itself all Summer.

I found the pots of lettuce at my local garden center (Meijers).  I bought two containers and planted them next to each other in a pot of soil.  Each mix has several types of lettuce plants growing together.  The label claims that this "Boost" lettuce collection has 30% more beta carotene and 20% more lutein than other salad blends.  Sounds good to me.

I love it! It looks fresh and pretty when I look out the kitchen window and see it   on display next to a pot of herbs (thyme, rosemary, flat leaf parsley and a Hungarian pepper plant) on my deck.  I amuse myself when I'm rattling off "what's for dinner" by pointing to the deck and saying "salad."  I've clipped 2 small salads from my container so far and it is still healthy and full.

Isn't this a wonderful idea?  It is unlikely that I would grow lettuce from seed, but I will definitely harvest a salad from a pot on my deck.  Viva la garden!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Marine Vinyl Clutch

This is my latest favorite purse design - a simple to construct marine vinyl clutch with clip on hardware.

What do I love about it?
  1. It is light-weight and durable.  Wipes off easily.
  2. This is a minimal sewing project (1 tab, 2 side seams, one reinforcement panel)
  3. The clip on tab lets me hook my valuables to my belt loop when shopping at a Farmer's Market or Tag Sale
  4. I happened to find this metal "bolt" embellishment (in the same shade of blue!) in the jewelry section of Michael's Craft.  The metal charm is too weird to be a necklace, but looks wonderful on a clutch
  5. The whole purse cost less than $12-15 dollars to make
I don't have time to write up a tutorial right now, but if you look at this project it is very straightforward. Keep these things in mind:
  • You only sew 4 sections with straight lines (sew the tab into thirds for strength, sew the left side of clutch, sew the right side of clutch - with dog leash threaded on tab, trap tab in seam, and sew a triangle of vinyl to reinforce flap and hide magnetic closure)
  • Put the top half (it's flat with a little nub) of the magnetic closure into the point of the triangle of extra vinyl; bend sides to secure.  Then sew that flap to the underside of the clutch flap.  This hides the prongs of the closure on the inside of the flap and reinforces the strength of the flap.
  • Magnet the other half of the closure to itself and close the flap on the clutch. Make a dent in the vinyl where the closure touches.  That is how you know the perfect place to attach the other half of the closure.
  • Peel sticker backing off of a piece of adhesive Pres On board and stick it to the inside of the clutch to add stability and cover the prongs of the magnetic closure. 

You can buy a piece of marine vinyl (sold by the yard at Joann Fabrics) in many different solid colors. I have used blue, pink and orange.  Such a great material!

You will need:  
  • A sewing machine
  • A "jeans" sewing machine needle (stronger than a regular needle)
  • One piece of marine vinyl that is 10.5 inches by 15 inches (clutch body)
  • One triangle shape piece of marine vinyl that fits just inside the flap
  • One piece of marine vinyl that is 3 inches by 2 inches (the tab)
  • One Pres On mounting board - cut to size of 10 inches by 4 inches 
  • A dog leash clasp
  • A magnetic purse clasp
  • A charm or adornment of some kind to sew to point of flap
  • All purpose thread in the color of the vinyl

Look how much my marine vinyl clutch will hold!  A narrow wallet (I made mine from a map of Scotland from a pattern featured on Martha Stewart show), a phone (that's a Cath Kidston iPhone cover) and a lipstick.  When I'm out and about, I attach the keys (the ribbon key chain can be purchased at my Etsy store) to the clip on the purse!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Collecting Vintage Ornaments

Oh Santa!  I know, I know, I have more than enough vintage Christmas decorations already.  Remember when I strung them on my fireplace mantel?
But look at the detail in these vintage ornaments I found at a church rummage sale.  How could I resist?

There were 3 with an inset of a Winter scene - a pink ornament with a reindeer on snowy branches, a snowman (out of view on the gold ornament, top) and a blue ornament featuring a deer in the woods.  Also, notice the 2 light blue ornaments that have a wire crochet detail. I've never seen anything like it!  I bought all of the ornaments shown above for 25 cents.  Total.  A paper bag filled with ornaments for one quarter.  

I had to bring them home and give them forty more years of holiday spirit.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

6 Year Anniversary for "Moments of Delight"

Can you believe that I have been blogging for 6 years?  Today is my blog-iversary.  Since May 7, 2007, I have written 1,758 posts (paired with one of my photographs) at

Why do I blog?  

It makes me feel good to put beautiful photos and inspiring ideas out into the world.  I like that my readers can rely on me to post ideas on flower arranging, baking, friendship, collecting.  

Etsy is exciting if you want to buy handmade designs. Pinterest is fun if you want to see photos; I blog because it is important to me to provide inspiring text as well.  Remember, thinking is good for you.

I tell people that my blog is "where sugar rules and stories matter."

I hope that over the years I have: shown you something you had never seen, inspired you to try a recipe or flower arrangement, answered a question or simply gave you delight.  

I am here, still blogging and committed to this delightful life.  All the best, Anne

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In honor of May

Why have I got the house looking so pretty?  It's in honor of the month of May, of course.  

The flowering trees are blooming in the neighborhood, my rose bushes have started to leaf out (the beauties on the kitchen table are from the grocery store) and these bright colors make the whole house look happy and welcoming.

The fabric (Patchwork by Vivian Gomez) I used on the table makes it look like I spent hours quilting complimentary pieces of fabric together, but is actually one printed piece! I bought a few yards and serged the edges to make an easy tablecloth.  The periwinkle blue polka dot place mats are plastic and help me to prolong the time that the tablecloth is clean and fresh.

If your kitchen table is a little dull after a long Winter, pull out some bright linens and see what a difference it can make.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Patchwork Sail

"If you're shipwrecked on an island..."  How many of us have heard that conversation starter?  The point of the question is to learn about the person; to see into their heart and find out what is important to them.

When I saw this small boat in a quilting shop in Shipshewana, filled to the brim with fabric, I immediately thought of the "stranded on a desert island" riddle.  Yes, this amount of fabric would just about do it.  I could make a patchwork sail and find my way back to civilization.  Or I could settle in and make a shabby chic beach tent.  

I started thinking about it and I would also need some : candy, music, cook books, lip stick, yarn and needles, my camera, a few Rosamunde Pilcher novels...

Friday, May 3, 2013

White Chocolate Flowers

I am going to make these white chocolate flowers again and again.  They are beautiful, exciting (for me, anyway, I gave a "whoop" when they released perfectly from the mold) and add something special to Spring desserts.

You will need four items to make the beautiful flowers shown here.  Once you have purchased a mixed flowers chocolate mold (online or at a cake decorating supply store), you can head to the cake decorating section of a craft store like Michael's to find the rest.  You'll need white candy melts (or white chocolate chips), edible pearl dust in pastel shades and some food safe paint brushes

Assembling the items was the hard part! Now you simply follow the instructions of the candy discs to melt them in the microwave - I put a cup of them in a Ziploc bag and microwave at intervals of 10 seconds, kneading the bag in between.  Once the candy is smooth and pourable, snip a small corner of the bag off and pipe into the molds.  I use a flat plastic scraper to wipe off the excess chocolate and leave a smooth flat back to the candies.  Then holding the mold just above the counter top, gently tap-tap-tap the filled mold on the counter over and over again and watch the bubbles rise and break on the surface of the chocolate.  This removes the bubbles and helps the chocolate to flow into the intricate detail of the mold.  Keeping it flat, place mold in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set the candy.  Then remove, place a cookie sheet  over the mold and flip it over so that the candy falls onto the cookie sheet.  If any of the pieces don't fall out, twist the mold slightly and they should release.

Dip a paint brush into the edible pearl dust and gently brush it over the white chocolate to add a lovely light color.  My favorite above is the lily of the valley - I painted green pearl dust on the leaves and left the white blossoms as pure white chocolate.

This is a whole new type of "edible" flower!  Enjoy!

*The inside of this cake is beautiful too!  Click to read about it here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beautiful Tea Leaves

It is just as beautiful as I imagined.  When you sprinkle a few edible gold hearts into loose tea, it can makes your tea service extra special.
Somewhere in my life, I admired a photo of loose tea that was enhanced with edible silver dragees.  The shiny edible decorations added just a touch of formality to dry tea leaves.  I loved it, but I knew that I would like these paper thin gold hearts (or stars) even more.  I have been waiting for the right day to try it and today's the day! 

The edible gold hearts are sold in the candy decorating section of the craft store (or online above) and are traditionally used to decorate cakes.  I love them mixed into the tea (there is no taste or effect) and since one container holds hundreds of hearts, I'll be enhancing my tea for a long time to come.

This is delight!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Checkerboard Cake

Tah-dah! The cake I have been imagining is finally brought to life.  My mom (a baking enabler) bought me this checkerboard cake pan when I was in my twenties.  While I was enthralled with it back then and made several chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cakes, it has been years since I have used it!

I started thinking about it this Winter and decided to make a pink and white checkerboard cake as soon as I was back home in my house and ready for Spring.  

My dad stopped by when I was assembling the layers and loved the ingenuity of the removable ring batter divider.   
We were still visiting when the layers came out of the oven and we were both so happy to see them release from the pan so easily.  I had sprayed the pans with Bakers Joy (nonstick spray with flour) and cut parchment paper circles to line the bottom of each pan.  They came out perfectly!
This 3-layer cake is made from 2 boxes of Pillsbury Moist Supreme "classic white" cake mix.  Make one box and leave it white.  Make the second box and add drops of liquid red food coloring until it looks as pink as you'd like.

The frosting is one batch of homemade butter cream.  I beat 3 sticks of salted butter until smooth.  Slowly add 3 3/4 cups of powdered sugar (confectioners sugar), one cup at a time.  Mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a few drops of liquid red food coloring.  Once the cake has cooled completely, stack the three layers on top of one another without frosting in between, alternating the ring pattern.  Spread frosting on outside of cake.  Voila! 

* I will post about the white chocolate flower decorations on top on Friday, May 3, 2013.