Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Paris in Town: Lemon Meringue Tart

My aunt and I went on a shopping jaunt to Sur La Table and Swoozies at "Downtown at the Gardens" with the thought that we would stop somewhere for a coffee afterwards.

We certainly chose the right place. We sat at a table in the shade and shared this beautiful Lemon Meringue Tart with our cappuccinos at Paris in Town.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Waiting for Eden: A Gardener Thinks of Spring

Did you know that you only need to tend one rose bush to be considered a rosarian?  Not that I would advocate stopping at just one.  The more the merrier in my garden.  And since roses require special care:

  • do not allow water to hit the leaves (as with a sprinkler system) - water from the ground with a soaker hose
  • plant roses with enough space to allow plenty of air circulation
  • be vigilant in removing yellow or dead leaves
  • spray with a recommended fungicide and treatment to prevent black spot/bugs
  • love them with all of your heart
I know that all that work seems like a pain in the neck, but I assure you that the bounty outweighs any burden.  I can cut a bouquet any time I want to and I love it.

This particular beauty is an Eden Climber.  A soft white climbing rose with a pink center that I know you will love.
Any day now, the garden catalogs will start arriving in the mail.  As you dream of this year's improvements (I personally want to add Bellflower, Zinnias and more Peonies to my garden) consider adding an Eden Climber.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wafer Paper bedecked Cookies: One Giant Leap for Mankind

This is Day One in my experiment with edible wafer paper.  Have you heard of such a thing? It is individual images printed on potato starch sheets with food-coloring like dye.  FancyFlours.com has a wonderful selection of edible wafer papers (click their link in their website's sidebar to choose: there are seed packet images, butterflies, bunnies and more. Your head will spin with delight!) that you can buy and use to adorn your baked goods.  It is simple to cut out the images and adhere them to royal white icing-frosted cookies with light corn syrup.  When I am back in town, I will experiment even more.
This is my first attempt and I have a few improvements to make in my process, but boy-oh-boy am I happy with my first try! These images look like wallpaper!  I was so pleased with them, I wrapped 4 of the cookies in bubble wrap and flew them to Florida with me to show my parents.  They couldn't believe how professional they looked. "Too pretty to eat!" was the consensus.  I can't wait to make more and show you my progress. 



Friday, February 21, 2014

Waterlogue: An Artist's Dream App


Would you believe that this is a computer-generated watercolor of one of my photographs? I am giddy as I think of all the possibilities.  I just purchased the $5 iPad app called "Waterlogue," because I have never seen any computer-effect that looks as fluid and convincing. My original photo is below.
The app is so easy to use - I simply uploaded/opened a photo from my iPad in Waterlogue and selected the "natural" effect. A minute later I had this original watercolor to share with you! Since the image can be saved "to your camera roll," it is a JPEG and therefore able to be sent to an online photo printer to make enlargements.  I want to make a few watercolors from my trip to England and then have them printed in 8x10.  I can frame them and hang these original pieces of art as if I water colored them myself - it is nothing short of revolutionary.  

Yes, real watercolors are incredible and I will still "paint for fun" in the garden, but my skills are far from stellar. I love being able to enjoy an "image" as I captured it with my camera...but in the whisper soft medium of watercolor paint.  Waterlogue, you are my hero!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bird's Eye View: Pelicans do a Fly By


What luck! I was trying to focus my zoom camera lens on a yacht being chased by a helicopter (my imagination said it was a big drug bust; it's more likely that I was watching a photo shoot for Yachting World magazine), when a group of pelicans flew right by the condo balcony! I have tried for years to get a good picture of them flying past and today was the day. This is my bird's eye view.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Inspired by the Sea

Ahhh...this is "Southern Living!"  I am lucky to have escaped the cold and I can concentrate on my photography and writing in this glorious place.  I bought a new camera last summer and I'm determined to become a Power User" - this is my first chance to try out some of the different settings and I love how this particular picture came out.  

I also bought a glass drill bit and before I flew down here, Dan and I drilled a whole bunch of sea glass (a combination of glass found on the beaches of Hawaii by my friend and a bunch found here in Florida by my dad - so neat!)

My grand plan is to make a collection of beach glass jewelry and offer a few special pieces in my Etsy store. (By the way, my Etsy store is in "vacation mode" (not available for shopping) until I  return from my trip and have a chance to upload my new designs.) Until then, I will design and create some signature pieces made up of sea glass and creativity. 

How can I not be inspired by a view like this?

Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Minute Bird Feeder

It may not be glamorous to have an empty toilet paper tube in the tree outside my office window, but boy do the birds love it!

I simply save the empty toilet paper and paper toweling tubes and every once in a while I make 2-minute bird feeders.  I slather the tubes with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed.  The tubes slip onto the branches easily and the birds practically line up like it's a Starbucks drive thru!

It looks like you can see the bird's tongue in this picture!  Anne Reeves, nature photographer, signing off...

Friday, February 14, 2014

City Series: Dallas: Ted Cantrell's Art at Ginger Fox Gallery

I stopped in my tracks when I saw Ted Cantrell's heart piece in the window of the Ginger Fox Gallery in the Bishop Arts district of Dallas.  His skillful use of pencils and rulers brings back memories of my grade school crushes. I love when people highlight the beauty of everyday objects.  Happy Valentine's Day, Ted!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Slipcover a Canvas Tote

Sometimes I see fabric and I simply must use it - immediately.  I haven't had this fabric in the house even 24 hours yet and it has already become a super cute tote bag.

One of my more genius discoveries is that I can take a standard-issue $5 tote bag from the craft store and slipcover it to make a knockout accessory.  

I loved this navy print called Alentejo Floral (you can buy it here at Hobby Lobby), but it requires just the right project to show it off.  It certainly is too bold for many household items, but as a tote with a classic outfit, it can really be admired.

The most basic instructions are: I make a sleeve that is a little too big for the tote. I place right sides together and sew down both sides and across the bottom.  Then I turn it right side out and (folding over the fabric to make a smooth edge) I sew the top of the sleeve all the way around the top of the tote, folding and overlapping at each end of the bag to make a pleat.  Then, at the bottom side of each end, I fold up the bottom corner and tack the flap up.  I sometimes sew buttons at the place where I tacked the flap and at the top of each pleat - that way it looks like it is really slipcovered that that the cover is "removeable." So cute!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Marine Vinyl Clutch Inspired by Hermes Orange

To me, this orange clutch looks like a sleek summer accessory that Hermes would come up with - especially if I made the hand strap to look like a giant "H."  Look at this handsome Hermes bag that my bag would compliment nicely.

I continued my marine vinyl bender by sewing this simple, but sleek, orange iPad-friendly clutch.  I can't believe how sleek and expensive it looks - straight seams and minimal stitching is the key.  

Yesterday I showed you my fold-over clutch with contrasting top zipper (love them!) but do you remember the royal blue clutch that started it all last year?  I carry it all the time and it still looks as good as the day I made it.  Marine vinyl is a fabulous material to work with!

I had some orange material left over, so I made myself a little case that I can clip to my belt loop when I just want to run to the grocery store.  It holds my iPhone and a Renee's seed packet case that I use to hold my ID, Visa and $20.
I know, I say seed packet case as if that is a known commodity, right?  It is just a little something that makes sense to me.  Seed packets are beautiful, why wouldn't you upcycle them into something for your purse?  I cover them in plastic tape and then sew on vinyl flaps that I made and add a closure with adhesive velcro.  I used to see these in art shows and people loved them. Makes sense to me!  

Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY Marine Vinyl Clutches

Marine vinyl, where have you been all my life?  I have been on an almost obsessive sewing binge, making myself accessories out of marine vinyl. This glorious, sturdy and wipe-off-able material is available in large rolls at JoAnn Fabrics.  I usually buy a yard (and use a coupon!) and then make accessories until I run out. (*Note: you can see some of my other creations on other days this month by looking at the blog side bar - click February.)

My favorite part about this project is that it is foolproof.  You will need a sewing machine, jeans needle (this type of needle is stronger and less likely to break under pressure), 2 pieces of marine vinyl (each 14 x 15 inches), a colorful zipper (14 or 16 inches) and coordinating thread. 

I don't really make step-by-step tutorials, but the instructions are fairly straight forward.  Read the instructions completely before beginning. 

The sewing is minimal and requires straight lines only.  The size of the clutch can be made larger or smaller based on your style preference.  I wanted these two bags to be able to fit my iPad and to have a fold-over flap.

  • Sew zipper onto the top of the vinyl panels (I chose a khaki zipper with large gold zipper teeth for my pink clutch. I love the modern-preppy mood it has.  I choose a lime green - fabric edge and teeth - zipper for my cobalt blue clutch.  It gives this "pop of color" accessory even more pizazz.) 
  • Open the zipper, place panels "right sides together" and use binder clips to keep the panels lined up evenly.
  • Sew around the perimeter of the bag (side - bottom - side), leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
  • Turn the clutch "right side out" and use your fingers to gently ease the corners into a point.  You are done! Enjoy!

*Advanced move - take a 5 inch piece of ribbon, fold it in half and place it on the side seam before you sew, a few inches below where the zipper pull rests when the bag is zipped shut. Hold the ribbon in place with a binder clip until you sew. Look at it - the ribbon should create a loop that should end up on the inside of the clutch, just below the zipper pull, once it is sewn. When you sew around the perimeter, this loop will be secured into the seam.  This will give you a loop to hang your purse from in the restroom.  You will unfold the bag, unzip the zipper about an inch and pull out the loop to use as a hanger.  This has helped me many times.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Detroit News spotlights my book, Moments of Delight by Anne Reeves

Columnist Nancy Szerlag wrote a lovely review of my book, Moments of Delight, today in the Detroit News. I am proud to share it with you here:

"“Moments of Delight,” a photo journal celebrating the beauty of everyday life through the eyes of Michigan author and photographer Anne Reeves, might well be called “Moments of Sunshine.” While not a gardening book, its pages are filled with sumptuous flowers — especially David Austin roses and Peonies.

The dead of winter is a perfect time to collect and even test a recipe or two made of vegetables or fruits you are thinking of growing. Knowing how you plan to use them makes choosing and growing edibles easier and a lot more fun anticipating the harvest. Anne includes several mouthwatering recipes, such as blueberry chutney, along with tempting photos.

“Have you been to the library lately?” asks Anne. If you need to get out of Dodge, but can’t afford the price a stagecoach ride, you can travel anywhere for free in a library.

Available on Amazon for $35, “Moments of Delight” would make a fabulous valentine gift for that special love or bud in your life. You can see more of Anne’s “moments” at www.anadesigns.blogspot.com."


From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140207/LIFESTYLE01/302070016#ixzz2sguA3zwL

Friday, February 7, 2014

Visual Vitamins: An Inspiration Board Brings Delight

I am loving my latest inspiration board because the images remind me of my friends. I see this every time I walk into my office and the exposure to it is so good for me. 

In this collage, everything looks beautiful together and blends with the pages I've torn from House Beautiful. You'd think one person chose all of these images to work together, but no. 

The bright purple and pink postcards of Paris are from Sue.  The John Derian giraffe card is one I bought when I was in New York with Kerry.  A scene from Monet's Garden was mailed to me by Melissa.  Most of the magnets are from Angie.  There's a Happy New Year card of Big Ben from Renate. And two postcards of northern Michigan I got when I was out galavanting with my mom.

This board is good for me - a Visual Vitamin representing both what I love and who I love.  Are you taking your visual vitamins?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Power of Cute: A True Story that Proves my Theory

I can prove my theory about "The Power of Cute."  I believe that things that can be cute, should be cute.  I know from experience that people respond to beautiful colors, pretty pictures, unexpected touches.  

The power of cute is when you add a touch that people notice and appreciate, even value more because of the effort you made.  Cute is free.  It is the difference between making cookies in the shape of a watering can, instead of a circle.  The cookie cutters cost the same, the effort to make a cookie is the same, but one harnesses the power of cute; the other does not.

Okay, my story...

Because I make Delight Totes (day bags that feature my magazine covers), I have the artwork I created for many gorgeous magazine covers. Here are some displayed on the wall in my studio.
I decided that the Delight covers would make awesome luggage tags.  I printed them to fit inside small laminated pouches and included only my name and phone number on the other side.  They turned out really...cute.

When Dan and I were leaving on our trip to Dallas last month, we had 4 suitcases and 2 carry on bags.  I put my new Delight luggage tags on in a hurry and when I pointed to a bag and asked Dan, does that one "have a tag" he said yes.  When we got to the airport, I noticed that it did indeed have a tag, it was just an ugly old red plastic one that he had written on with a Sharpie pen to update the phone etc.  Not cute, but it was accurate and would do the job.

We checked our 4 black non-descript bags: 3 with a Delight tag, 1 with an old tag.  The polar vortex snowstorm was in full steam that day and we couldn't fly out.  Some flights did make it out (it was -14 degrees), but it took us three trips to the airport to finally get on a flight (that actually took off) for Dallas.

When we got to baggage claim in Dallas, we were looking for our 4 bags that had been "in the system" for 4 days without us.  The computer said that they had made it to Dallas days before we did.
Baggage claim had at least 300 bags in rows and sections waiting to be claimed.  It was a mess.  We walked up and down each row and couldn't find any of them.  Alarmed, Dan went to the luggage claim woman and showed her our claim checks and the "arrived in Dallas" printout.  She looked at the name on the paperwork and said, "I know where they are!" and rushed into the little glass office.

She returned rolling the first of 3 bags.  The only bags she had pulled aside and kept in her office were our 3 bags, tagged with Delight.  We thanked her, but said their was still one missing.  She was surprised and helped us look bag-by-bag through the other 300 pieces of luggage.  We finally found the 4th bag (tagged with the plain tag) among the masses of bags. We were relieved, but I couldn't get over the fact that the Power of Cute had given three of our bags such special attention.

Same black bags.  Same flight.  Same "priority yellow sticker."  The only difference was my pretty luggage tags.  They somehow sent a message to this women that I cared about my bags and the contents.  They "stood out" to her and she treated them accordingly. 

That is the Power of Cute. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading and Restoring on GoodReads.com

Reading and Thinking are two of my favorite ways to spend my time on cold winter days (usually baking is happening at the same time - see the Orange Curd with Shortbread Dipping Stick earlier this month.)

I want to recommend a website (and "app" if you use them) called GoodReads.com. It is an online bookshelf where you can keep track of books you've read (I can never remember the author's name, this website helps!), books you want to read (where else can you keep track of friend's suggestions) and find books that your friends are reading.

The app version lets you scan barcodes, so when I am browsing in a bookstore, I can "scan" any book I want to read later and it stores it in my "want to read" section.  I just love it.

You can find your friends (if you want) and follow authors (pick me!) - it's fun.

Two of my favorite books that I have read lately are:

Sugar Queen by Sarah Allen Addison (a quirky, half-magical story of a woman gaining the confidence to live her own life. It also revolves around a controlling mother, the love of candy bars and a new-found appreciation for helping your friends)

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (a fascinating story of a woman's power to help her customers - she's a florist- by sending "meaning or intent" through the combination of flowers in the arrangement. It is also filled with love (maternal and romantic), the foster system (where she was raised) and scrappy determination to learn.  This is the book that made me want to drive to California "to fix some things."  

Monday, February 3, 2014

The 12 Days of Valentine's Day starts today!

When's the last time you knew you were going to have fun for 12 days straight?  

I know, we don't often look at things that way, and that is precisely the beauty of celebrating the "12 Days of Valentine's Day".  It's a time when you do little things to show love for family, friends and while you're at it, yourself. Wear pink one day, make a cake, put out red placemats - everything counts when you are celebrating the fact that you love a lot of people. 

There is no set schedule; Nor is there a "number" relationship, meaning you don't have to sneak 10 Hershey kisses into a loved one's pocket just because it is Day 10 (but what a great idea!).  Nope, you just do what feels right (and fits into your schedule) on any particular day leading up to Valentine's Day.  When someone compliments your pink scarf, just smile and say that its in honor of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  If your neighbor questions your sudden gift of 6 muffins, cite your inspiration, The 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  Have fun with it.

Remember, this is a gift of the heart, so any gesture, no matter how small, will be appreciated.  I've added a link at the top/right of my Moments Of Delight blog. Click and you can read a collection of my blog posts from prior years (I think there are 50 some posts!) to get ideas.

Orange Curd with Shortbread Dipping Sticks

I have decided to promote a tangy orange recipe today.  It is cold and gray in Michigan and I can't wait until March for citrus (because that is when every issue of every magazine we love seems to trumpet oranges, lemons and limes), I want it now!  

Somehow the idea of Orange Curd with Shortbread Dipping Sticks came to my mind.  I could actually see it in my mind and thought it would look beautiful and taste refreshing. I was right. It's rich and bright and fun.  It definitely livens up the umpteenth cup of tea we've all had by February.  This photo above of my success looks pretty close to my imagination. Yum.

Orange Curd

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
pinch of salt

For fun, I added a splash of Vahine's Orange Blossom Essence
I had purchased a beautiful blue bottle of it in Paris and couldn't resist. Magnifique!

I am keeping the Orange Curd in the refrigerator in my Pillivuyt jam pot (featuring blueberries) that I bought on my first trip to a brick and mortar Dean & Deluca store.  That is my kind of souvenir.  It's the same with the Vahine essence. Items all over my kitchen remind me of my travels.

I made my Shortbread Sticks with Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa shortbread recipe.  I used a knife to cut the dough into rows of clothes pin-size sticks and baked them on parchment lined cookie sheets for 15-20 minutes (watch them so that they don't brown too quickly.)

Allow them to cool and then dip away!