Monday, July 17, 2017

Glimpse of a Great Blue Heron

I was quick on the draw and was able to capture a Great Blue Heron fly past our deck on Lake Michigan. Isn't it wonderful?

My mom saw him first and pointed in his direction. This handsome fellow chose the wrong section of wetlands and tried to "come home" along our section of beach. From where she was sitting, my mom saw this great blue heron fly in toward our shore and then do a quick about face when he realized that he had the wrong section of beach.

He must have his nest in the natural wetlands farther down the shore. As we both enjoy this beautiful summer weather, I will keep my eye out and try to get another picture of him.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

School Supplies: Driven By Color

I had to stop and show you this beautiful selection of solid color binders available at Target. I use binders filled with clear plastic sleeves to organize my magazine recipes and decorating or garden articles. I have used the same binders for years, but I am rethinking everything now that I have seen this selection. 

When I get back to Seattle, I am going to invest in a whole new set of of these binders to make my office shelf look tidy and professional. I need 8 or more, the question is, which color/colors should I use? Stay tuned...

#target #colordriven #schoolsupplies #backtoschool

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Customize Napkins with Darling Rose Print Iron Ons

These pretty peach iron on roses stopped me in my tracks! Michaels Craft Stores carry Iron-It Out decals that are absolutely darling and exactly the style I was looking for to embellish some white cotton napkins. I love the look of a soft watercolor painting and these images were simple to iron onto my pre-washed napkins. Follow the instructions and you too can have a set of napkins in under 30 minutes.
Each set includes 3 coordinated watercolor roses for $4 (use a 40% off coupon to bring the price down to $2.40). I bought 2 sets and made myself 6 incredibly cute napkins. The fact that my Apricot Candy rose is blooming doesn't hurt either! 

#crafting #embellishthis #customizeyourhome #momentsofdelight #finddelight

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lake Life: The Shores of Lake Michigan

When I say I'm from Michigan, is this what you picture? 

Since moving out to the Pacific Northwest, I've been astounded at how rarely people associate water with Michigan. We have the Great Lakes...we ARE the great lakes. 

Granted, my lake life was only in the summertime, but scenes like this make an impact on a girl. This is my Michigan, where Lake Michigan is so grand that it looks like the ocean.

I have been shopping in Leland and Traverse City and feel drawn to the souvenir items celebrating Michigan. I've seen tiles, stationary, mittens and more. I want them all and though I have resisted so far, I have been pointing out that my birthday is August 20th (wink).

#puremichigan #souvenirs #momentsofdelight #lakegirl

Monday, July 10, 2017

Traverse City: Mama Lu's Tacos

I love to get restaurant recommendations, however this was the first time I've gotten one from my 24 year old nephew. When did he get so old? I was looking for a fun place to have a date night dinner. William and his girlfriend raved about Mama Lu's Taco Shop in Traverse City and insisted we try the Street Corn appetizer. 

Everything that came out of the kitchen was fresh and picture-worthy. So much so that I turned our tablescape into a watercolor image (above) with one my Waterlogue phone app. Doesn't it look cool? 
The street corn was delicious! Roasted cob pieces are slathered with lime mayo and rolled in chile cotija cheese and I will certainly order it again. However, eating it was a mess! I wanted to be cute and lovely on our date and instead I was thankful that I was already married. Street Corn is not first date food.

***Update: Mama Lu's saw my post and let me know that they offer their delicious Street Corn cut off the cob! Just let your server know...

The tacos were small but mighty. I had one steak and one pork and they were really flavorful and satisfying.  Dan had 1 steak and 2 chicken and he was very happy.

Mama Lu's is a cute place that specializes in bright fresh flavors and the overall vibe was happy. The restaurant was full and everyone seemed very happy with their south-of-the-border selection. Try it!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Omena, Michigan: Sail On

We were driving along Grand Traverse Bay toward Omena and it was too beautiful to keep driving. We simply had to pull over and soak up the scenery.

I raised my camera and could only see shades from blue to white.

Inspirational photo, anyone?

#puremichigan #photography #summernights

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

United States of Jell-O

Happy 4th of July!

It's a little nerdy, but I want to show you my United States of Jell-O. I'm afraid you'll have to search eBay for another mold like this. My mom bought it years ago and it has served us well. The trick is to make the Jell-O firmer, as if you were making Jell-O Jigglers. That way, the states retain their shape and your guests can easily serve themselves "the bible belt" or the "upper Midwest."

Dan outdid himself and skillfully cut out the state of Idaho from this mold. I wouldn't have believed that the rest of the mold could stay intact afterwards, but it did! I ate Washington in honor of our move. What area would you choose first?

#jello #4thofjuly #United States #holidaycooking #familydinner

Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Fun Bracelet: One Fish Two Fish

I couldn't resist these ceramic fish and it turns out you couldn't either.

Due to popular demand, I am selling a limited number of ceramic One Fish Two Fish bracelets this summer. Available here on my Etsy site.

It's summer and they are ridiculously cute. Ships immediately.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thunderbirds over Traverse City, Michigan

It was the perfect summer day for a Thunderbird air show: comfortable temperatures and a city full of spectators in town for the National Cherry Festival. The area swells by 500,000 the week of the festival and happy families lined the streets across from the bay.
I loved watching the F-16 scream across the blue sky. Traverse City is a terrific venue because Grand Traverse Bay gives you the space to enjoy the approach and fly by of the jets.
What a sight!
A beautiful formation.

 #thunderbirds #airshow #landofthefree #homeofthebrave #traversecity

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fifteen Again: Makeovers in July

This photo could have been taken in 1980. I was at the cottage with my family and the girls were giving each other makeovers, just like the old days when my cousin Carol would stay with us for days. Those are some of my happiest memories.

My contribution to the beauty to this year's session were some Sonia Kashuk makeup brushes and a Clinique all-in-one makeup set. My niece Heather brought out her stash of makeup and a lot of hard won talent from watching You Tube beauty videos. It was such a fun morning and we all felt a little more beautiful.

Sometimes the prettiest pictures are a well-lit glimpse at reality. 

Don't miss my LeSportSac zipper pouch (again - a great 1980's flashback) that I rely on to keep things orderly. I am so glad that Dan and I were able to come stay for a week at the lake where time stands still.

#puremichigan #momentsofdelight #beautyvideos #timeless

Friday, June 23, 2017

Queen Anne Book Company: A Sucessful Reading and Book Signing

I want to send out a huge thank you to the Queen Anne Book Company for hosting my first book reading and signing in Seattle. I told stories from all three of my books and I'm happy to say that the audience was laughing and hooting along with me. It was a beautiful evening on their private patio and I loved every minute of it.

Currently my books are available online:

I will start work on my 4th title, Finding Delight in the Pacific Northwest, this summer. My mind is whirling with content and I can't wait to share it with you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seattle: How to Cook a Wolf restaurant

My friend Tracy came to visit and we had a gorgeous early dinner at How to Cook a Wolf before my book signing at the Queen Anne Book Company.
The sun was out and the temperature was in the low seventies. Our table was indoors, but on the edge of the raised window leading to the patio. Everything tastes better outside and it really felt like we took Tracy somewhere special.
We started with Toasted Sea Wolf Leaven Bread with fennel honey butter and roasted garlic and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with a Preserved Lemon vinaigrette.
We added a Yellow Beet Salad with Pomegranate Yogurt and a savory nut topping. 
This dish was Grilled Leg of Lamb with Farro and Goat Cheese...
I concentrated on this incredibly tender and sweet Seared Halibut with Pureed Onion and Grilled Lettuce. It was absolutely delicious. 
Did we have time for dessert? Yes!
House made Banana ice cream (wow!) with a Chocolate Crunch Cake
Pistachio cannoli with pieces of toffee candy

A delicious meal in a modern but relaxed setting. I ate like I was the Queen of Queen Anne. I will be back again and again.

#howtocookawolf #seattle #dininginseattle #momentsofdelight #queenanne

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Moth The Seattle Grand Slam

Last night, I attended a fascinating sold out event called The Moth Grand Slam in Seattle. The Moth hosts live story-telling events around the country and the individuals' stories are broadcast weekly on NPR. My husband was a regularly listener to The Moth when he traveled every Sunday for work. My dear friend Tracy, who is visiting from Grand Rapids, Michigan has loved the program for years and was the one who noticed that this live event coincided with her trip to Seattle. 

Since Tracy declared back in the early 90's that I should consider being a professional story-teller, it felt like it was kismet that we could attend this special competition.

10 individuals, who had each won their evening earlier in the year, were given the stage and 6 minutes to woo us with a true story. Some were about humiliation and growth, others were about losing and finding love, all were very real and it was obvious that the finalists felt great pride at making it to Seattle's The Moth Grand Slam.

Three teams of seasoned Moth listeners scored each story and in the end, Sam Blackman won with a lovely narrative about loving, leaving and after 35 years, reconsidering his religion. Congratulations, Sam.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Coated Cotton: Pacific Fabrics is a Great Resource

I love fabric. And imagining projects. And buying supplies for projects. Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and I actually finish a sewing project. I practically swooned when I saw this selection of coated cotton fabrics at Pacific Fabrics in Bellevue.

I want to make a travel dopt kit and jewelry roll out of the purple/grey print (top row, second from right) and I want to make some kind of tote with a matching fleece blanket roll out of this yellow umbrella print (click link to see). I am sure I'll go a an outdoor concert/picnic and need a blanket with a wipe able side to place against the grass. I can't wait to get into my sewing room and make some things!.

#sewing #fabricstash #seattle 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Salmon Skewers: Posh Picnic Fare

My mind is swimming with recipes that I want to try, experiences I want to have, things that I want to photograph. As a day or week develops, I try to think of a good fit for the circumstances to make the most out of life.

For example, we were expecting a beautiful day in the low 70's last week and we had been eating indoors at home a lot lately. I wanted to get us out into the fresh air and I wanted to eat outside. Grilling at home is fun, but if we went to a local park and used their grill, we could enjoy a few hours of cooking and relaxing.

I keep a stash of disposable grill toppers in my picnic supplies. Have you seen these? It lets you use a grill in a public park while giving you a clean surface to grill your food on. 
At home, I cut fresh salmon into equal-size square pieces (so that they would cook at the same rate) and placed them on Press n Seal cling wrap. I put another piece on top and sealed around each piece of fish so that it wouldn't dry out. That way I could bring everything to the park on ice and assemble the skewers on site.
I threaded pieces of lemon, cherry tomatoes and salmon onto cedar skewers that I had soaked in water (so that the wood doesn't catch on fire). On other skewers I threaded fresh mushrooms, zucchini ribbons (cut carefully on a mandolin at home and doused in olive oil) and cherry tomatoes. These vegetable skewers cook faster so I placed them on the grill after the fish had started to cook. I covered the cooking area with non-stick Reynolds Wrap foil to keep the heat in and speed up the cooking. When the fish was cooked, I basted it with a mixture of Dijon mustard and apricot jam. The flavor of the glaze combined with the grilled lemons made the salmon even more delicious.
I brought cooked asparagus from home and placed it in a foil packet on the grill to reheat. I also brought a cold salad of drained canned beets (cut in quarters) mixed with 2 cans of drained mandarin oranges, a splash of olive oil and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. I transported the cold beet salad double-bagged in gallon Ziploc freezer bags in the cooler on ice. It was a great addition to our meal.

Yes, I brought along a set of melamine dishes, wooden silverware and paper napkins to make the meal look pretty and give us a stable surface to eat from. I always bring along a kitchen trash bag to transport the dirty dishes back home and it works out just fine.

We had such a nice time in the local park listening to the birds chirp and the children squeal from the nearby playground. It was a great start to a summer of fun.

#picnics #seattle #salmononthegrill #momentsofdelight

Friday, May 12, 2017

Seeing Nature inside the Seattle Art Museum

The rain of Seattle kept me inside this spring (plus I've been decorating the new house) so I had no idea that the special exhibition "Seeing Nature" (a collection of landscape masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection) was closing so soon. Get thee to the Seattle Art Museum before May 23. 

I am very new to Seattle and am very interested to learn about influential figures in the area. It is unlikely that I will ever run into Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) at a party, but if I ever do I can now chit chat with him about his landscape art collection. 

What first struck me was that while all technically landscapes, the styles are so diverse. I would love to have heard the logic behind curating this collection. Some paintings are cram jam with perfectly represented objects, like Jan Brueghel the Younger's The Five Senses: Sight. The happy clutter reminds me of my old studio on a busy day.
And then not much farther into the collection we see the dreary gray and black gas station known as Untitled by Ed Ruscha. While it may convey a stark commentary on the place of energy in our past, it hardly seems to fit into the collection as a whole. 

Yet that is the beauty of art; where color and content are in charge and the message is up for interpretation. 

I found myself jealous of the Paul Allen who owned one of Monet's Water Lilies, happy for the Paul Allen who saw beauty in a psychedelic work titled The Grand Canyon by David Hockney and worried for the Paul Allen that selected Untitled by Ruscha. His life is surely as complicated as his art collection and I appreciate that he was willing to share it with the public. 

People talk about the vastness of the ocean and how small it makes them feel. I get that feeling when I stand close to the dried paint of a masterwork. 

The collection Seeing Nature includes 39 significant works that span 400 years and is only on display another week! The paintings are by a wide range of artists including Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne and Georgia O'Keeffe and I think you will have a thoughtful and interesting experience viewing them. Let me know what you think.

#seeingnature #momentsofdelight

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pop Up Shop: ANA Cigar Box Purses

I want to extend a big thank you to Troy Salon in Issaquah, WA for inviting me to host a Pop Up Shop during the May 5th Wine Walk.

I met so many people, was welcomed to the area and got the citizens perspective on the many art shows and events on the east side of Seattle. I am grateful for their input and support and had a very successful night.

I'm including this link to my online store on Etsy so that potential customers can find my cigar box purses easily. 
Thank you!

#cigars #cigarboxpurses #winewalk

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Seattle: Ferry Season Returns

I absolutely love riding the Washington State ferries and we were finally able to take a ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island yesterday.  When I take the ferry, I want to stand on the deck and enjoy the incredible view, so I have been holding off our trip until the weather cleared.

You see Seattle just experienced the most-rainfall-ever-recorded-between-October-and-April (since 1895!) and everyone in the Pacific Northwest is overdue for the bright blue sky and fresh air. 

Sunday May 7th was the perfect day! Notice the woman at the bow (above) reenacting the Titanic's "king of the world" moment. We were all feeling that way when we felt the sun on our skin.
After a beautiful day of shopping and snacking on Bainbridge Island, we took the ferry back across Puget Sound. I don't think any of the ferry passengers stayed indoors; we all seemed to be out on deck taking pictures of Mount Rainier.
Selfies, however, were more of a challenge.
The city looked beautiful and it was exciting to think that we live just 30 minutes from this vibrant city. It has been a challenging winter but things seem to be returning to the climate we expect. Hallelujah. Picnics, here I come!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Fresh Air and Fresh Flowers: Issaquah Farmers Market

Saturday. May 6 was the season opening of the Issaquah Farmer's Market. After a long winter, it feels like fresh air and fresh flowers are all I need.

The reddish pink bouquet I'm holding is a variety of peony tulips. They have more than twice the petals of a classic tulip and sport slightly green touches on the tips of their petals. The flower vendor was surprised that I didn't want any greens or filler flowers. I knew that they would make a wonderful arrangement all on their own.

We also bought fresh rhubarb (here comes my crisp!) and a large bunch of asparagus. Oh! and a square of real honeycomb from Bees in the Burbs to serve with cheese and apples. *sigh* I love this time of year.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Green Accents: When Color Makes the Meal

Nothing says spring like verdant green accents. The trees are bursting with bright green growth and my table is reflecting that happy time. 

I've combined some inexpensive green glasses from CB2 (sadly they have discontinued this color), my Tea Time trivet project and some bright green Heather Bailey napkins to bring the table alive. 

When I bought my latest multi-hued hydrangea (pale green with pink splashes), a bloom broke off and my pull toward green and pink began.

The most important message of this post is this:
I set the table even though nothing is happening and no one is coming over. I like to look at beautiful linens, flowers and colors and I shouldn't have to wait for an occasion to use what I have. When I set the table, the house comes alive.

If your kitchen table is collecting bits and bobs, go clear it off and make yourself a pretty table setting. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Camp Thundercraft: Urban Craft Uprising Creates A Weekend Camp for Small Businesses

Last month I went to camp...Camp Thundercraft! Because I am a fan of the Urban Craft Uprising indie craft shows in Seattle, I saw information via their Facebook Page about their new camp for small business owners/makers. How could I resist? 
The weekend event was held on Vashon Island (a short ferry ride from Seattle) at Camp Burton, a rustic waterfront camp with cabins and meeting facilities. When I got an email with my cabin assignment, I knew it was real. 

I had never been to camp as a child (apart from a wonderful Girl Scout overnight), so the only reference I had were scenes from The Parent Trap. I ordered a sleeping bag on Amazon and was giddy with the idea of meeting other makers.

There were 5 of us in our cabin and I really connected with the girls right off the bat. We seemed to chose the same classes and spent a lot of time together at meals or walking between events. It reminded me of the best times in college when our time was our own and we could talk face-to-face about the things on our mind. It was very interesting to me that although we are all very dialed in to social media, this group was not lost on their phones the whole weekend. We understood that this was a rare opportunity to connect and we weren't going to squander it.

On Friday night after a grand potluck dinner, we broke out into groups and talked about the highs and lows of business/making and discussed the tools we use to make life easier. It was terrific.

There is something reassuring about talking to other women who run their own small businesses. Filing taxes, iPhone credit card apps and business card font issues can almost be discussed with a glance. We've been there, done that. Our experiences were similar enough that we could skip the basics and really communicate about the solutions. It felt wonderful.
You know what else I loved? Encouraging others. My favorite moment was when a group of us admired someone's art collage and encouraged her to pursue scanning and selling it as a print (something that can be sold over and over) vs. selling it only once as an original. She was thrilled that we saw a larger audience for her work and we felt like we helped someone to imagine the steps to a broader revenue stream.

The camp had morning and afternoon classes available on so many different topics (wholesale and private labeling your work, product styling and photography, DIY business taxes & record keeping) that choosing just one each session was difficult. A plus is that the organizers have promised class notes & resources available online after camp, so we can always investigate something we missed. 

You know what else was great? We now have our own Facebook group. I can pop over there and remind myself of a name or business website with just a click. We can easily stay connected and share relevant information as we learn it. This type of connection helps us to remember each other and I look forward to attending the Urban Craft Uprising events and seeking out some of my new friends.
On Saturday evening, we took a breather from the din of conversation to enjoy some tea & macaroons (mine was tie-dyed!) while we reflected on camp and what message we wanted to come away with. We all wrote a note to our future selves on pretty stationary by Annie's Art & Press knowing that it will be mailed to us when we need a kick in the pants just before the rush of the 2017 holiday season. 
On Sunday morning, before breakfast in the main lodge, some of us took a cup of coffee down to walk along the shoreline. It was so very quiet and peaceful that I didn't want to leave. 

I could have had a session on planning and implementing a social media timeline while sitting here like a bump on a log. The irony of that is not lost on me, but it still feels like a great idea.
After losing power for a spell on Friday night, we really lucked out with the weather that weekend. Look at the sand dollar (above) that my new friend, Becka found for me to photograph. The tide was low and so many treasures were exposed. As a Michigan girl, the opportunity to see shells on the shore are only possible on a tropical vacation. Seeing them here so close to my new home was a thrill.

Since I am new to the Pacific Northwest, my main objective for camp was to meet creative people living in this area. Where do you shop for materials? What's it like to sell at Pike Place Market? I am not settled enough to take the world by storm, but I am ready to make some friends and start exploring a new normal. 

I really had a great time at Camp Thundercraft. I met some very interesting women (and one cool ceramicist named Sean), got my head around the phenom called Instagram and I left with a list a mile long to tweak and improve this creative life.

What more could I ask for really? Bravo, Urban Craft Uprising, I am your newest biggest fan.

P.S. Don't you love the glamping fabric at the top of this post? I toyed with the idea of making myself a travel makeup bag for Camp Thundercraft, but then I talked myself out of it. Mistake! Always err on the side of super cute. If you'd like some of this fabric for your foray into the woods, click on the link above.

#urbancraftuprising #campthundercraft #vashonisland #creativelife #seattle