Monday, June 30, 2008

Fauchon Cookies

It may not be what Fauchon had in mind when designing their cookie tins, but could there be a prettier vase? I simply slide an empty jam jar inside and have an instant waterproof container for my peony arrangements.

I am trying something new this year. I read that you can "postpone" peony blossoms for over a month! The instructions were to clip buds that were about to open, dip the stems in wax, wrap completely in damp toweling and refrigerate. So right now I have about 12 "ladies in waiting" in my fridge downstairs that I prepared in May. I will try to make them bloom the week of July 7th. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Easy and Fresh Asparagus Soup

How do I make asparagus soup? I bring together two important factors: easy & delicious. I buy fresh asparagus from the farmer's market (or in this case, I was at the farm!). 

Then wash a bundle of stalks, cut them into 3 inch pieces, cover with water and simmer in a saute pan until tender. Pour off the bright green asparagus water into a measuring cup. Open 2 cans of Campbell's cream of asparagus soup and pour into a sauce pan. Measure asparagus water into one of the empty soup cans and add to soup. Pour in 1/4 cup milk or Fat Free Half & Half to make it creamy. Add cooked aspargus and warm contents over low heat. Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Goody Basket

Every 4th of July, my grandmother would take the 5 hour drive with us and come to the cottage for a week. She'd bring her recipe cards, a coffee can full of "chocolate bits" cookies (announcing the number of cookies in the can when she arrived...92) and The Goody Basket. A lidded wooden basket full of Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, Milky Ways, Lollipops, Taffy and Caramels. 

We needed something "from the goody basket" all the time. During card games, before dinner, after was always easy to catch someone chewing as they left that corner of the kitchen. 

As I was packing for the holiday weekend yesterday, I realized I had my own goody basket, except my goodies are crafts. It is brimming with all the projects I want to work on over the 4th. 

The only thing it is missing is a box of Junior Mints!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wish List

I could look at this photograph all day. In fact, I may make it into a DELIGHT tote so that I can take it with me wherever I go! In the background you can see my favorite quilt - it is blue, green, pink and cream print stars. 

My Mom has an antique quilt collection and I get to borrow them to decorate my house, which I love. Do you see my new rose? 

It is called Honey Dijon and is a dusty dull yellow brown - so cool! I looked everywhere for this variety last year and actually yelped when I found one in stock 2 weeks ago. 

Do you have a rose wish list?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Swedish Bakery in Chicago

The cookbook, Swedish Cakes and Cookies, talks of a traditional coffee klatch where friends gather for coffee, sweets and conversation. I am in! 

I can't wait to try and replicate some of these sweets. This photo was taken at our last stop in Andersonville, "The Swedish Bakery" on North Clark Street. I ate cookies from each shelf and they were delicious!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Salute to Sweden

I would love love love to go to Sweden someday. I find myself drawn to Swedish-style furniture, the paintings of Carl Larsson and even Swedish sweets.

So when I was in Chicago last weekend, I headed straight to Andersonville, a Swedish community.

I shopped the Swedish American Museum (I bought a traditional cookie cookbook & pearl sugar) and then enjoyed lunch at Svea (Swedish meatballs and cold fruit soup). 

It was a beautiful day - perfect for window shopping.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cottage Style

Enamelware plates & embroidered dishtowels take a lot of the credit for "cottage style" in the magazines these days, but we rarely see examples of sweet cottage exteriors.

Look what I found...a perfect square guest house that I would love to spend the weekend in. One overflowing window box and a hedge of Annabelle hydrangeas - so cute! 

I imagine there is a pan of blueberry muffins cooling on the stovetop in there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Iris Farm

My bio ends with the line:

"I knit, sew, glue, tape, plant, bake, buy, try, think, feel, and live like I am starring in my own movie."

Well, what could be a better scene in a movie than walking through an iris field cutting stalks for a bouquet?

There are so many fun ways to fill your 90 days of Summer - what about attending a local festival? This link has every possible event by state. Personally, I am hoping to attend a Mint Festival in August...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Strawberry Jam

My new favorite thing to make is strawberry jam. Ball's No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin works perfectly - you simply blend the envelope of pectin with 1 1/2 cups sugar, then add 4 cups of crushed fresh strawberries and stir for 3 minutes. 

Then ladle the jam into really cute jars and let stand for 30 minutes. I love these tulip jars by Weck's. I have made 2 batches in the last 10 days and between eating and gifting, they are almost gone! Go get yourself some beautiful June berries and give it a try. There is nothing quite like the taste of homemade jam on buttered toast in the morning. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moments of Delight, Photo Shoot

This morning there was a photo shoot at my house for an article about my book, Moments of Delight

The plan was to take some shots "in the rose garden" which sounds lovely, but rain was in the forecast, so I didn't get my hopes up. 

Well...the sun came out! Take a peek at some of my roses putting on a show. I feel very lucky.

Rose: David Austin English Rose "Heritage"

Apricot Chardonnay Fudgsicle

A lovely little chocolate company called Grocer's Daughter (known for their herb infused truffles!) has developed a line of limited edition fudgsicles. Each day they offer a different flavor of frozen chocolate heaven. When I stopped in this Spring, the flavor of the day was Apricot Chardonnay, made from Food For Thought's organic Apricot Chardonnay preserves & rich dark chocolate. 

A dollar and a stack of napkins later, I was whirling down the highway enjoying a delicious frozen cube and thinking about how much I love innovation.

An apricot sunset over Lake Michigan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mother Goose

A gaggle of geese. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw them set against a perfect white barn - look at the texture! Now imagine them squawking and hurrying as if someone had shouted, "Look! Mother Goose!" They were a sight and I'm glad I was there to capture it. White on white - barnyard photography rarely looks this pristine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day

What's better than a necktie? My Dad & I were in the newspaper on Father's Day! I couldn't ask for a nicer way to celebrate Father's Day than to have a newspaper article written about our Father's Day tradition. 

We shop for and plant herb pots together and call it "Father's May." Be sure to click the link on top and read the wonderful article from the Oakland Press.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Travels With Flowers

You should know that my Summer name is Travels with Flowers.

Every time I drive to the cottage for the weekend, I take along a bucket full of whatever is blooming in my garden. How can I not

Once I arrive, I arrange them in bouquets all over the house. And what was in my car on the way home this week? Spectacular German Bearded iris in deep blue and soft periwinkle. I cut them myself in the fields of a local iris farm. Needless to say, it was a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dishes by the Pound

I was shopping in Ann Arbor at a store called "Found," when I noticed that they had a table of mismatched china available for sale by the pound.

How fun. I immediately spotted this old Johnson Brothers square bowl and popped it on the scale. It is antique white with sweet beige & pink blossoms - very grandmother-y and perfect to showcase a peony. 

And for 75 cents, how could I go wrong? 

I hope you find an unexpected treasure this weekend - let me know what you found.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cold Fruit Soup

It has been hot hot hot lately and I wanted to make something cold & light (and easy) to go with grilled chicken. Enter cold fruit soup. 

Cold Fruit Soup

1 qt. watermelon pieces
1 pt. cantaloupe pieces
1 box (33.8 oz) Ceres Apricot juice
1 bottle (15.2 oz) Odwalla Mo'Beta juice
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 bag (16 oz) frozen sliced peaches
1 Granny Smith apple
Fresh mint

Blend watermelon & cantaloupe to liquid in food processor or blender. Transfer melon slush to a large bowl and pour in 1 box of Ceres Apricot juice and 1 bottle of Odwalla Mo'Beta juice. Add 1/4 cup of golden raisins. Add 1/2 a bag of frozen sliced peaches. These transfer a deep chill to the soup, but should be completely defrosted by the time you serve (check with a fork). Ladle soup into each bowl. Chop apple (including skin) into a petite dice and sprinkle 1/4 into the center of each bowl. Top with fresh mint leaves and Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dinner for Two

A little still life in my living room - dinner for two. I like the idea that when you glance in, it looks like I am ready to sit down to a light meal with a friend.

In truth, the sushi is made of soap! I couldn't resist. The darling vase is a piece of brown transferware filled with Lillian Austin English roses. They are the latest addition to my rose garden and were named for David Austin's mother, Lillian. 

My dream is to someday visit the David Austin headquarters in Albrighton, England and tour their rose gardens. They have 700 different varieties of roses on their grounds - can you imagine!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Garden Notebook

My digital camera is my garden notebook. I like to imagine that someday I will have time to keep a journal loaded with all of my plant information and bloom times etc in it. 

But for now I simply look on my computer to see when my pictures from the garden were taken. The date is captured automatically when you upload your shots. 

Today my peonies started blooming and I wondered if they were early, so I looked in my photography folder. I know that this Raspberry Sundae peony (because it looks like a scoop of vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce poured over it) bloomed on June 2nd last year and on June 10th in 2005. 

Neat, huh? No crazy record keeping for me. The date on my digital camera does it all. When should I have a friend over to see the hydrangeas? My "records" say the third week in July. 

So get out your camera and start your own garden journal.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stone Age

Petoskey stones are unusual gray stones with spots that are the result of ice sheets, bedrock & coral colliding 350 million years ago and fossilizing. Sort of.

Anyway, they can only be found in the northwestern tip of Michigan's lower peninsula, which makes them a local treasure. Spend more than 15 minutes on the beach and someone will propose a "hunt" for petoskey stones. Shown here are my nieces, combing the beach for petoskey stones and looking a lot like the evolution of early man. Welcome to the Stone Age, baby.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Real Recipe Cards

When a friend asks for a recipe, do you still write it out on a recipe card?  I think you should. 

I treasure the few recipe cards that I have in my grandmother's hand writing. 

And when I sift through my recipe box and see cards written out by my friends, I remember everything...when we ate that dish; what made the party so fun etc. I don't feel that way when I find a page Xeroxed from a cooking magazine. I often don't know who gave it to me or why. 

There are so many cute recipe cards available in gift shops or you can download free ones online. So the next time someone loves your "pineapple salsa," take a little extra time and give a bit of yourself when you pass the recipe along. They will be glad you did.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Marsh Marigolds

Isn't it nice when you have unexpected conversations with someone? 

I was out and about on a sunny Saturday, driving between small towns taking pictures and stopping in little stores I love along the way. 

A shop girl asked what I was "up to" that day and I answered that the marsh marigolds were out and that I had been photographing them.

She said that she had noticed them too and that they were in their full glory (lining streams and marshy areas) along one particular stretch of road. 

I pulled out my camera, showed her the shots I had taken and we agreed that the bright yellow flowers really made it feel like Spring. Have you ever seen marsh marigolds? I love how the sun is shining down on them through the trees. Nature's spotlight.

Monday, June 2, 2008

90 Days of Summer

There is nothing quite like a slice of watermelon on a hot Summer day. Actually, I take that back.

This dessert is quite like a slice of watermelon and will cool you off any day this Summer!

Modeled after a super cute dessert in a 1998 issue of Martha Stewart Living, my version of this mold requires only 3 sorbets (lime sherbet, lemon & raspberry) and a handful of mini chocolate chips to liven up your next party.

And the beautiful paper plates? April Cornell, of course!

Start enjoying the 90 Days of Summer!