Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Since so many of us will ring in 2009 by watching the ball drop on TV, I thought I'd post a photo from the heart of Times Square.
One Summer night, some friends walked here with us after seeing a show. It was very modern and colorful - it felt like we were moving around inside a giant "Lite Brite."
I wish you a new year filled with Moments of Delight!
Five, four, three, two, one...
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Are you in a book club? I'd like to recommend a website called Reading Group Guides. It is loaded with discussion guides, book suggestions and reader feedback. It is a wonderful resource and can help you navigate the overwhelming selection of great "book club" books. Happy reading!
Monday, December 29, 2008
I was 12 when I set my alarm to wake up early to watch her wedding "live" from London. I collected photo books filled with her beautiful gowns and was so enamoured with her that people brought me memorabilia from their trips to England. A nurse from our doctor's office brought me a porcelain dish that commemorated the Royal Wedding, a fellow girl scout brought me a matchbook that was printed with Charles & Diana's engagement photo and a distant relative even sent me an official "Princess Diana" mug. I loved each piece as a girl and to this day they are safely tucked away among my treasures.
So a few years ago, when my Mother-in-law announced that she was taking my sisters-in-law and me on a "girl's day" to have lunch and tour a Diana, A Celebration exhibit, I was speechless. This amazing exhibit was in Houston for just a few weeks (which happened to coincide with our yearly trip) and showcased over 30 of Princess Diana's suits, dresses and gowns - I was amazed at how many I recognized from the pages of my books. I was so overwhelmed I only managed to take one photograph and this is it. Thank you, Kay, for a day that I will always remember.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I don't have a picture of them right now, but just imagine classic round cookie balls. This gingerbread house is way cuter. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This year, my favorite cookie is at the top of the picture. I have a new cookie cutter shaped like a t-shirt and Caroline decorated it to say "I (heart) Xmas."
Now that says it all, doesn't it?
Monday, December 22, 2008
This photo shows a few of the over 250 cookie cutters in my collection! A sweater (Caroline always makes one Fair Isle with rows of sprinkles, an ice skate (Emily laces it up with brown jimmies) and a sewing machine (This year William covered it with orange dots.) There are cookies everywhere.
The kids eat a few, keep a few and place the remaining on a tray "for dessert" on Christmas Eve, when we will all be together again (with their parents, and mine) to celebrate the holiday. I love this time of year!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
When I started planning the look of our house, I described plate racks, oval back chairs and dreamy blues & creams (Swedish) with pickled shell-colored kitchen cabinets,
off-white duck couches and touches of pink and celery (Beach house). Makes perfect sense to me. But sometimes people ask me, "How do you do Christmas in here?" Thinking that red & green would over-power the tranquil colors.
Here is a glimpse into our family room this Christmas. Shell-covered cone trees, Tracey Porter holiday glasses filled with pink candy canes and a pastel village set among my grandmother's china. It is my interpretation of a Swedish Beach house Christmas and I just love it.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Today is a day for knitting, reading and staying inside where it is cozy. In honor of our first big blizzard, I have made white hot chocolate in my favorite Japanese cup by Tag.
White Hot Chocolate
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup Land o Lakes fat free Half & Half
20 Nestle white chocolate chips
a few mini-marshmallows
Place milk, fat free half & half, and white chocolate chips in a microwave safe container. Microwave at 30 second intervals (whisking after each session) until milk is hot and chocolate has melted. Pour into an adorable mug, top with marshmallows and enjoy. This makes 1 serving - double as needed.
*My version of white hot chocolate is lighter than many recipes that are loaded with whipping cream etc. This is a comforting drink, that is not overly sweet. Tweak it as you wish to achieve the richness and flavor you desire. Just be sure to enjoy it!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
A) Be excited
B) Think they are too pretty to open
C) Imagine what could be inside
D) All of the Above
I also like giving people something to talk about. Hence, my raspberry & cream sewing theme! I have wrapped all of our gifts in tissue patterns, sewing instructions and a classic raspberry print. By finishing some packages with tape measure ribbon or a homemade belt, the concept is complete.
I absolutely love how this looks and it was sew simple!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Enter The Eskimo Hut.
We were driving home on a hot, Houston afternoon when Susan announced, "I know what you'll like!" and pulled into, what looked like, a car wash. To my amazement, it was a drive-thru frozen daiquiri store. You can order almost anything, but much of the draw is that you can get a "real" frozen margarita to take home and enjoy. Since it was mid-afternoon, we opted for nonalcoholic Pina Coladas and a few Diet Cokes, but it was really fun. Somehow choosing from a million flavor combinations (with names like "Code Red," "Orangesicle," and "Hurricane") and ordering from the car window, made us feel really wild. We got our giant drinks, popped in a straw and happily slurped all the way home.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I love when type, text and images are combined and I found many of the items shown here in a book called Alphabets and Ornaments. It is a book & disc of images that you select and print yourself. I also added a recipe card written in my grandmother's hand, some sheet music etc. I think of it as a tribute to home & hearth.
Monday, December 15, 2008
We took pictures of ourselves with this luscious cottage and I asked the girls what part of the house tempted them the most. One wanted to taste each candy cane along the roofline, the other wanted to bite a gumdrop off the wall and I confessed that I would lick across the lollipop flowers and announce each flavor as I passed.
Thanks, Phyllis, for a delightful afternoon!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
I loved the garland of the eleven ladies dancing and chose to recreate them as individual ballerinas. They're made from white poster board (I traced Martha's template) and are dressed in paper gowns I made. Some have tissue paper skirts, others wear ribbon dresses, some even have paper doily aprons, but the color scheme is always simply red and white. I would include a link to the template, but it isn't online. The Martha Stewart Living issue was from the 1990's.
I love these ladies that dance and swish their skirts around my Christmas tree.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In 2006, I made three gingerbread houses because I simply could not decide on a style. I literally had my own little neighborhood and it was fantastic.
This "cottage built for two" is for a sweet young couple returning from their honeymoon. My favorite part was using sticks of gum as aluminum siding! And the Necco wafer roof, of course.
"Honey, I'm home!"
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
In the back of my mind, I remembered seeing a really cute white cupcake topped with a plastic reindeer in a magazine (Country Living, Dec 2008). So when I stopped at the cake decorating store to pick up some mini-cupcake liners, I asked the salesgirl, "Do you have any realistic plastic deer?"
She thought about it, hesitated, then walked over to a cluttered shelf. "Well...we have these," she said as if there was no way that they had what I wanted. It was the exact reindeer from the magazine and was the best $2 I've ever spent. They took my box mix cupcakes to a whole new level, and became an unexpected party favor - no one wanted to leave without their reindeer! I tell you, delight is everywhere.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I just received the January issue of Victoria magazine and it is dedicated to moments of winter white. What was the first thing I did? I made myself a mug of white hot chocolate - yum. Do you indulge in winter white?
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I collected some newspaper (the movie guide), olive green ribbon (a scrap), a button, silver glitter, pinking shears and a bottle of craft glue. A few minutes later - voila!
Inspiration is everywhere - this time it was in my mailbox!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I was named Anne after her and we spent hours and hours together at her cottage in Leland each Summer. She had an enormous garden (with delphinium and foxglove spikes taller than me!) and we would eat egg salad sandwiches on a metal table & chairs out by the garden.
I think she would like that each year I make a "family tree" for Christmas. Handmade ornaments made with vintage photographs (reproduced on fabric), sweet calico and a little pink glitter.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I start with decorating. I find that once I have taken care of the "visual" joy of the holidays (decorating the Christmas trees, making a gingerbread house, putting holiday touches in each room) I enjoy myself much more. Friends can drop by and the house looks "ready" (even though I'm not!).
Then comes baking. Once I've made a batch of gingerbread men (super easy - see my secret here), I always have something to offer my friends and family. The house smells delicious and they taste great any time of day with a cup of coffee. I also bake Nama's Sugar Cookies (stay tuned) several times each December - yum!
It is only when the house looks festive and the cookies are in the tin, that I start to shop for gifts. Coming home with bags & boxes is much more fun when the visual and edible has been taken care of. Then comes the wrapping! I always choose signature colors and try be creative with my choice of papers. This year I will be wrapping in cream and raspberry - the cream gift wrap will actually be sewing patterns and for raspberry, I'll use some beautiful double pink wrapping paper that I found at the hardware store!
May you enjoy every minute of the holidays!
Monday, December 1, 2008
So I expect my web store, ANA, will be humming today. My daybag on the left is called a Delight tote - made entirely of plastic and tape!
I also have ribbon watches, cigar box purses and my book, Moments of Delight. It's a beautiful soft cover photography book with inspirational stories, recipes and ideas for enjoying the beauty of everyday life.
Want to spoil your Mom? Give her a sometime to delight!
Take a peek - it is Cyber Monday, after all!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
This advent calendar is actually a house by Martha Stewart Crafts. Behind each numbered panel on the roof is a compartment for candy & prizes. It was easy to assemble and I absolutely love how it looks in my dining room. I've actually decided to count down to Christmas on another advent calendar in my kitchen...I just can't bring myself to alter this roof line!
Friday, November 28, 2008
It is my own little Secret Garden.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Would you like to make your own set for Christmas? You can buy similar royal icing decorations here. You may want to use sugar tablets, which are bigger and offer a little more real estate for your decorations.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
And there is always one person staring at an empty shelf in disbelief. They are incapacitated by the thought that they can't get (insert food item here). You can tell there is no "Plan B" for their recipe and they don't know what to do. I try to offer alternatives when I can.
I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and may your store shelves be full!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Speaking of leaves, I wonder if you have ever used French Cheese Leaves on an appetizer platter? If you are scheduled to bring an appetizer to your holiday feast this week, you can find French cheese leaves in many housewares stores (like Bed, Bath and Beyond). Select a pretty platter, scatter a few leaves and then place bunches of grapes around your appetizer (I am imagining something like this easy, but beautiful, Baked Brie).
Remember, in many cases, presentation is everything. Make them ohhh and ahhh.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
And these cookies! A mother/daughter team were decorating these beautiful gingerbread heart cookie ornaments. Yes, ornaments. See the hole at the top? You can buy smaller versions of these cookies at IKEA and bedeck your own tree this year.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Want to know what icon says Las Vegas to me? Not showgirls or slot machines, but hotel rooms (The Venetian has over 4,000!). Think of the guests staring out these windows wondering when they're going to "strike it rich."
Did I hit the jackpot when I was in Las Vegas? Yes, in my own way. I discovered golf ball-shaped lip balm by Ballmania, took photographs from the city's "Eiffel Tower" and ate aqua M&M's at the M&M World store. How could I not consider myself a winner?
Friday, November 14, 2008
Dean Jacob's Creme Brulee Quick Mix works like a dream and is delicious. The sugar is included and the caramelizing can be done under the broiler or with a culinary torch. You can even buy a Dean Jacobs creme brulee kit that includes four ramekins and a torch!
Add fresh berries, a swirl of ReddiWip and top with a Pirouette cookie. Voila! Your secret is safe with me.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It's also fun to pull off a leaf and drop it in a big pot of soup on the stove.
Once your wreath is hung you'll want to put bay leaves in everything, so I'm including a bay leaf cooking link.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Is that cute, or what?
I had imagined the project, the tools, the parent participation (even my Mom came!), but I had not thought through to the end. When 21 girls stood for a picture all wearing their new Girl Scout charm necklaces. Priceless!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Have you heard of scherenschnitte? It is the art of paper cutting that originated in Germany & Switzerland in the 1500's. This Summer, I was able to meet artist Marie-Helene Grabman and see her scherenschnitte work up close. Each framed piece of paper cutting is a "moment" relayed in tiny paper cuts - it was breathtaking. You can see at another artist's scherenschnitte here.
I chose this photograph because the trees look just like scherenschnitte.
Life imitating art.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The current issue of Country Living announces the Pitch Your Product winners for 2008. Congratulations to this year's Country Living women entrepreneurs!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Remember how I said grocery store flowers would have to do since my garden has been put to bed? These antique lavender roses (in a Laura Ashley crock) were purchased on a milk run last week. They looked so pretty in the gray light of November, I wanted to show you.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Did I get your attention with "new" and "pillow?" This is obviously an old painting, right? You are actually looking at a postcard from 1909. I bought it at an antique store and I think you'll get a kick out of the message.
"Dear Sister, Received postal. Was glad to hear from you. I am coming to Sparta (Michigan) Saturday. Ma said Ellen Wilson has a white sweater jacket. Answer soon. From, WS"
Ah, girls haven't changed so much in 100 years. We still love clothes and want to talk about what's in style. However, it was the beautiful pastoral scene on the front that grabbed me. I have scanned this postcard and printed it on a piece of 8.5 x 11 ink jet fabric. By tonight, I'll have a small pillow with velvet backing in my living room. It is a modern way to have a vintage touch.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
When the school bus drops off the girls on Halloween afternoon, the hours before dinner and trick-or-treating can seem endless.
A few years ago, I realized I could make some happy mothers if I channeled the girls' energy into baking. I asked them, "Have you ever made an apple pie?" With a nod from their mothers, the girls spent the afternoon in the kitchen with me measuring honey and grating nutmeg. And the rest is history. Every Halloween afternoon we bake and when darkness falls, they run to my house yelling "Trick or Pie!" Then parents and kids take a few minutes out of their route and join me on the driveway to eat a slice of pie.