Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Times Square

Happy New Year!

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

Book club

Tonight, I have book club. Twice a year, 8 of us meet for dinner and then walk over to the bookstore to select our books for the next 6 months. It is very democratic. We all scour the store for books that were recommended to us, that we have read and loved or ones that we want to read. Then we sit down together and each member gives a little summary of her books, passes them around and adds them to the master list. After each person has pitched her books, we vote, choosing 6 books each. The books with the most votes become our reading roster. It works like a charm. We get a broad selection and it keeps us from getting stuck in one genre. The trick for me will be staying on task and out of the cookbook section!

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

Princess Diana's Wedding Gown

I loved Princess Diana.

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

Winter Break

Are you getting a well-deserved rest after the big build-up to Christmas, or are you still meeting and greeting with family and friends? I am usually in Texas the week between Christmas and New Year's, spending time with my husband's wonderful family and navigating the whirl of delicious restaurants and cute shops. But this year, we will see his family at a reunion in the Spring (Washington, DC!), so we are home for a few quiet days after the holiday. I am reading books, drinking tea and thinking about all the lovely photos I want to take in 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snow Globe

When we put colored Christmas lights in our bushes, I knew that it would give a festive glow to the house. What I didn't expect was the 10 inches of snow we got in a blizzard the week before Christmas! It's been like "living in a snow globe." The colored lights glowing from beneath the snow looked like a scene from a Christmas card - simply magical.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bourbon Balls - the perfect Christmas Cookie for Adults

I wanted to show you the jelly bean fireplace that I am so proud of...tah dah. This year the snow-covered lawn is made of tapioca pearls.

I also wanted to share my "rum ball" recipe with you. I have promised this recipe to many a friend, so I decided this is the year to include it in my blog. Made famous by my grandmother, these potent cookies are actually made with bourbon, not rum. The puzzling part is that they have never been made with rum, yet "rum balls" is what we have always called them. Feel free to continue the tradition and make "rum balls" for your friends and family.

I don't have a picture of them right now, but just imagine classic round cookie balls.  This gingerbread house is way cuter.  Enjoy!

Rum Balls

2 cups Nilla wafers cookie crumbs (not reduced fat version)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup white sugar (for rolling cookie balls in)

Pulverize Nilla wafers in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Measure out 2 cups of crumbs into a bowl. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup and bourbon and mix with a fork. Transfer mixture to empty food processor bowl and pulse until dough starts to cling together. Place a dinner plate covered with white sugar on the counter. Take dough by the teaspoon from the food processor bowl and roll between your palms into a ball. Then roll the ball in white sugar to coat. Voila! These cookies are best stored in a tin and will keep for weeks. Please note that since these cookies are not baked, the alcohol does not evaporate. They are absolutely delicious, but be aware that they pack a punch! Happy Holidays to one and all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sugar Cookies

This would make a great puzzle! Can you find "Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer" near the bottom of the picture? And next to him is a "House full of love" (covered with red hearts) - look closely and see that the roof is strung with colored Christmas lights. Can you find the "Elephant with the purple blanket?" An important cookie in my family - I wrote about the tradition of it here.

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

Christmas Traditions

Every year, my husband and I spend a day in December baking and decorating my grandmother's sugar cookies with our 7 nieces and nephews. The kids (ages 17, 17, 15, 15, 13, 13 and 10) have been building this tradition with us since the oldest was only 4 years old and it really defines the holidays for me. There is Christmas music playing, "chocolate tea" (hot cocoa) on the break between baking and decorating and a general sense of ease. Rolling, cutting, baking and frosting is a long process, so the kids just relax and take their time.

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

A Swedish Beach House Christmas

I have always referred to my decorating style as "Swedish Beach house" (paying no mind to the fact that we live neither in Sweden nor by the sea).

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

White Hot Chocolate

I am in the middle of a blizzard and I can't stop thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Little House in the Big Woods. Can you see the little house on my table runner? So sweet!

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

Sew Pretty

I think that anticipation is an underrated concept for grown-ups. When I put presents under the tree, I want everyone to:

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

Eskimo Kiss

When I am traveling, I'm always on the lookout for things that bring delight. My sisters-in-law in Texas are "on board" with this concept and consider it their mission to take me places that we don't have in Michigan.

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

Type & Text

I wanted to show you a wreath that I made from "paper scrap." If you like the idea of a wreath, but want to highlight non-traditional images (I hang this in my office year round), this is a neat way to go.

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

Hansel and Gretel

If you have been searching for Hansel and Gretel, look no further. I have found their gingerbread cottage in the lobby of the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Michigan. My lovely neighbor and her Garden Club girls (age 9 & 11) invited me on a "field trip" to see this giant masterpiece in person. The gingerbread boy nearby boasts the recipe: 220 pounds of sugar, 300 pounds of gingerbread mix, 90 gallons of water, 240
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

Jewelry Box

Some days I simply have to give up on my "to do" list and make something. My "jewelry box" is calling - beads, buttons and baubles all waiting to evolve into something wonderful. So the moment I return from a Christmas lunch with the Garden Club girls, I will begin. I am imagining pretty little boxes of jewelry under the Christmas tree for all the girls on my list!

Friday, December 12, 2008

11 Ladies Dancing: Christmas Decoration

Years ago, Martha Stewart published instructions for making a holiday garland to honor the Christmas carol "The 12 Days of Christmas." 

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

Cottage Built For Two

To me, making a gingerbread house is a lot like designing jewelry. There are an infinite number of combinations and the building materials are gorgeous!

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

Reindeer Games

I was having people over for the holidays and decided to serve my ginger cakes as a sweet treat. The last time I baked them, a friend pulled me aside in the kitchen and confessed that she'd eaten four! That was all I needed to hear.

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

Winter White

A floral arrangement in antique white can look so lovely this time of year. I was lucky to find a bunch of hypericum berries in peach and paired them with cream roses in an old-fashioned sugar bowl. So pretty! And this photograph captures it forever.

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

Ginger Hearts

I believe that little touches are the secret to making a big impression. An understated couch with one fabulous pillow. A classic watch with a velvet ribbon band. Or in this case, store-bought cookies (Ikea) embellished with Wilton white frosting. Don't they look like they are from a little Swedish bakery? I was inspired by the beautiful baking at the Swedish Christmas fair and this is the result. I am starting off the week with a cup of coffee and a ginger cookie. Join me?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Cards

One year I received a Christmas card depicting a horse-drawn sleigh carrying a young couple home with a fresh Christmas tree. I loved the image and wanted to preserve it some how. So I thought, why not make it a Christmas ornament?

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

Marshmallow Snowstorm

Are you looking for a pretty centerpiece? From my perspective, nothing beats a little paper village after a marshmallow snowstorm. And it smells as sweet as it looks! Keep your eye out for vintage-style buildings in discount stores and antique shops and as you build your collection, just make sure that the houses and churches you choose are all the same scale. I love how my little Winter village looks, I hope you do too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sugar Plum

There is something so magical about department store windows at Christmastime. I took this sugarplum fairy vignette last year at the Macy's on State Street in Chicago. The figures moved back and forth into graceful poses - it was lovely.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Family Tree

This is my maternal grandmother as a little girl. Oh, to wear big hair bows! In those days a photograph was so precious - she must have been thrilled to have hers taken.

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

Visual, Edible, Givable

My mantra for holiday preparations has always been Visual. Edible. Givable. In that order.

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

Cyber Monday

Today the world wide web is a-buzz with holiday shoppers. Traditionally, the Monday after Thanksgiving is so big for online sales that it has been dubbed "Cyber Monday."

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

Advent Calendars

With only a few days until December 1st, I thought I would talk about advent calendars. Each morning you open a numbered flap on the advent calendar to reveal a Christmas image. There are so many sweet designs to choose from in retail stores, but I also want you to see a few unique examples at Blumchen, an online resource for Old World holiday papers and ornaments.

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

Vintage Teacup

What am I planning for January? Tiny blossoms in a vintage teacup! The man at the garden center told me that these Muscari "Valerie Finnis" bulbs need 6 weeks of cold sleep and then can be brought out into a warm room to grow. I have planted them in this vintage teacup (look at the unusual cup shape!) and it is now tucked away in the refrigerator. Just after New Years, I'll bring it out and let the warm sunshine in my family room work its magic.

It is my own little Secret Garden.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sugar Cubes

Aren't these sweet? I found little royal icing sugar decorations at our local cake supply store (featured last year as Sugar Secrets) and "glued" them to sugar cubes with Wilton white cookie icing. I am bringing them to my sister-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. Who wouldn't love to drop one of these in their coffee?

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

Grocery Shopping

Today is my favorite day to go grocery shopping. Seriously. There is a real sense of community in a bustling store the day before Thanksgiving. It is the only day that everyone has generally the same items in their cart: canned cranberry - check. pumpkin pie filling - check. french fried onions - check. The similarity makes me smile.

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

Listen Carefully

You know the old adage that if you hold a seashell to your ear you can hear the ocean? It is a wonderful metaphor for the power of listening. As you head out into the hustle bustle of travel, turkeys and timelines, remember to treasure what you hear from family and friends. The jokes, stories and trials of life have "time to be told" over a long dinner. Although it may seem like everyday conversation, stories told in person are treasures. Listen carefully.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beautiful Leaves

I wanted to show you that even teeny-tiny leaves can change color for the season. Can you believe how small these leaves are? I placed them next to my covered matchboxes to show some scale (Brooklyn postmark is the size of a quarter!).

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

Swedish Christmas Fair

I was so lucky to be able to go to a Swedish Christmas Fair! I happened to notice a sign for it last night and by 10AM today I was drinking glogg and buying a pale wooden tray (featuring a tangle of blueberries & branches) from a woman dressed head-to-toe in traditional Swedish garb.

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

Ginger Cakes

Mmmm...Ginger Cakes with Cream Cheese frosting. I make these super-delicious cakes with Betty Crocker gingerbread cake and cookie mix. When I got married, my everything-from-scratch grandmother told me that she always used this mix to make her gingerbread cookies. She said that this cookie dough (follow the roll & cut instructions on the side) could not be beat. So naturally, this is the mix that I use every year to make my scores of gingerbread men. Until the year the stores ran low. Seriously, I had to scour the local markets looking for (what felt like) the last 6 boxes of Betty Crocker gingerbread mix. So now I buy them when I see them and always have a few on hand. If you go to the Betty Crocker website, this mix is strangely absent. Is it limited edition? Seasonal? Top secret? All I know is that in addition to gingerbread men, it makes wonderful ginger cakes. Follow the cake instructions, bake in a mini-cupcake tin at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, frost with a swirl of cream cheese frosting (also compliments of Betty) and then sprinkle a few Australian Ginger People candied ginger chips on top. It is a dessert they won't forget.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Laundry Day

How many people really love their laundry room? I do! It is a tiny room right off the family room (which means it is in plain sight of any company when the door is ajar) so I did I few extra things to make it cute. I covered the walls with Laura Ashley check wallpaper and hung a Ballard Designs shelf over the washer & dryer. Can you see how the lidded dish matches the wallpaper? I was invited to a team-building event at a paint-your-own-pottery place one year. I thought to myself, if I'm going to have this chance to make custom pottery, I'd better make it good! So I modeled the color and spacing off a scrap of my wallpaper and it has been enhancing "laundry day" ever since.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dining at Monticello

I have always loved fine china. Covered vegetables, soup tureens, cake plates and formal tea services are so pretty on display. Every year I tell myself that I will entertain more with the dishes that I love so much.
For Thomas Jefferson, every day at Monticello was a special occasion. This photo (peeking into the Tea Room) shows the table set for afternoon tea.
It was a beautiful day and I love how the arched detail of the walkway reflects trees into the room.
I have added, Dining at Monticello, to my cookbook collection, so that I can learn more about the recipes, china patterns and traditions of dining at Jefferson's magnificent estate.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Air Traffic Control

This morning, my Dad & I went to a "meeting" of a radio-controlled flying club. My uncle is a model plane enthusiast who has been making and flying for years, so we went to see his club "take off." At least fifty men were on the sidelines and in the stands watching ten or more radio-controlled airplanes fly over an enormous indoor soccer field. It was fascinating. Time stood still for these men as they discussed engines, rudders, props and wings while tiny planes whizzed by. It was easy to imagine them as eight-year-old boys discovering model airplanes for the first time. They were happy then, and have enjoyed it every day since. Delight is everywhere.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Isn't this amazing? A bright Nevada sky reflected in the windows of The Venetian in Las Vegas. I took this picture last Spring when I tagged along on my husband's business trip.

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

Secret Source

I was drooling over this creme brulee photo (from a luncheon I attended) and realized that I hadn't mentioned my secret source for making beautiful creme brulee at home.

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

Artfully Arranged

Can you imagine serving this at your next party? What a grand presentation. Perfect slices of fruit & meat artfully arranged in tiers. I took this photo at Fauchon on the Place de la Madeleine in Paris. This particular day we went inside and bought fancy boxed lunches (mine had a hard-boiled quail egg sliced atop the sandwich) and had a picnic outside. After lunch, we strolled the flower stalls and I took this photo. What a day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumpkins to Pilgrims

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away and things are slowing changing from pumpkins to pilgrims. It's time to hang a bay leaf wreath in your kitchen. Have you seen one? It is a beautiful way to add a "holiday meals are coming" feel to the kitchen.

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

Charmed, I'm sure

Viva la Girl Scouts! I had so much fun teaching the "jewelry making" badge to my neighbor's Girl Scout troop. I designed a charm necklace that incorporates the symbols and traditions of the Girl Scout organization. Plus we used buttons, ribbons and beads to tell a "story." A pearl for leadership, a bead for each brother or sister, a "bee" for their years in the Brownies. The charms could symbolize whatever the girls wanted. I overheard someone ask, "What did we say the button stands for?" Her friend replied, "Buttons stand for friendship, because a circle never ends."

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

Country Living Entrepreneurs

I have loved Country Living magazine for almost 20 years, so it was an enormous thrill to be selected as one of their 2007 Women Entrepreneurs after pitching my business to their editors. Want to see something cool? My profile is part of Country Living's web page! Click this link to see (or type Anne Reeves into their search box - so cool!).

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

Jewelry Making

The Garden Club Girls asked me to teach a badge at their Girl Scout meeting this month! What fun. I have been pouring through my baubles and have come up with the perfect project for 12-year-old girls. A charm necklace! I am going to submit the design for publication and when it gets published I will link you to it. I think the girls will love it. As I was shopping for the supplies, the ladies at Micheals saw what I was up to and were all a-buzz. That's my specialty, you know, making accessories that "drive girls crazy."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lavender Roses

I love how this looks. The placemat is made of laser cut wool felt, which has been the rage in Europe for a while now. I bought just one placemat to use as a "stage" for flower arrangements and little vignettes. You can shop for similar placemats here.

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

The United States of Jello

After such a big election, I wanted to encourage you to have a patriotic dinner. Maybe you could even make the United States of Jello. Seriously. My Mom has a mold of the continental United States that she makes every year for the 4th of July. It is the size of a 13 x 9 pan and has indentations that show the borders of each state. The kids crack themselves up by eating "the Midwest" or by trying to take a serving of just Colorado. Anyhoo, it doesn't look like the Jello website has that mold anymore (it looks like this), but you could order an American Flag.
Democracy never tasted so good. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Meet my new living room pillow.
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

Sort & Share

Is your armoire overflowing? As I sort and organize for the holidays (I really turn the house upside-down with my Christmas decorating), I have started to accumulate a pile for donation. There are many ways to put resources back to the community and thought you might be interested in what I have found in the magazines. Domino magazine spotlights these organizations for shoes, clothing and media donations. Real Simple magazine has a long list of charities that could use old shoes, eyeglasses, even business suits. This week I am sorting and sharing.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Pie 2008

What's my Halloween tradition? Baking a "Trick or Pie" with the Garden Club girls.

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.

Happy Halloween!