Monday, August 31, 2009

Princess Diana

I pulled out some of my Princess Diana treasures to show you.

I was just 11-years-old during the engagement and Royal Wedding and I collected picture books, clipped magazine articles for my scrapbook and treasured every glimpse I got of Diana.

My enthusiasm for the princess was well-known and friends and family brought me these treasures back from their trips to England. It is hard to render me speechless, but I was, every time.

I kept these items displayed in my bedroom on a bookshelf and I thought it was lovely.

It seems sad to display them now, so I keep them tucked away, memories of a happier time. Today I am remembering Diana, she certainly brought me delight.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bee Sure to Visit BeeDazzled

I love this little place! Tucked away in northern Michigan, BeeDazzled is an herb garden and beeswax shop in Benzonia that specializes in "gifts from the hive." My favorite part is what you see here. Walking from the car and seeing this view. It smells like honey and Springtime and calm.

A favorite of mine is their lavender-scented lotion bars (when you hold them, the warmth of your hand melts the bar and releases the emollient oils) - they make wonderful hostess gifts.

So the next time you see a sign for a shop that sells honey, bee sure to stop in! You never know what handmade treasures you'll find.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dessert Driven

A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Corinne told me that she had decided where we were going for my birthday.

She told me to look at the calendar and pick an evening to go out, because she had a special dessert in mind.

"Is this whole plan Dessert Driven?," I asked. Her reply? "Absolutely."

The night before she told me the plan. She was sure that the proper way for us to celebrate this milestone birthday was with a souffle at The Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn.

A perfect individual chocolate souffle, a lovely sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a spun sugar cup. Heaven, simply heaven.

Corinne, you are a birthday genius! It was truly a delight.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Delight in Paris, Imagining Each Step

I have started the "visualizing" step for my next book, "Delight in the City of Light!"

I took over 1,200 photographs in Paris (on this last trip alone) so I am visually sifting through the images to determine the sequence, collections and messages I want to bring to you.

I think you are going to be blown away by the final product. All I need now is tunnel-vision and time...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Swedish Almond Cake

Last year, after blogging about my trip to the Swedish American museum in Andersonville, Illinois, a reader wrote a comment to tell me about a cake pan & recipe for Swedish Almond Cake that she was sure I would like.
Later that Summer, when I saw that very cake pan in a little Swedish gift shop, I snapped it up. This week was its maiden voyage into my oven and what a success! I sprinkled Lars Own Swedish Pearl Sugar on it for a finishing touch.
This cake is light and sweet with chewy edges - yum! Where has almond cake been all my life?
Thank you, "Ann G" for opening up my eyes!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009 Garden Walk

Can you believe that this was the Roseglen Garden Club's 5th Annual Garden Walk?

We started this wonderful tradition when the neighbor girls were just 5, 7 and 7-years old. One afternoon, I was teaching the girls some plant names (Snapdragon was a favorite) and having them touch and smell all the flowers, when one of the girls looked at me seriously and said, "Mrs. Reeves, I think people would pay for this."

So cute! I explained the idea of a Garden Walk and how communities often offer free events in the name of education. "We" had a berry garden, herbs, roses and flowers..."we" could teach people all about them.

I told them that we could host a Garden Walk if they made and handed out tickets to the neighbors. I would pick a date with their mothers and provide the brownies and lemonade.

Fast-forward 5 years and imagine our seasoned garden club members (age 10, 12, 12) pointing out the nasturtiums, identifying a few roses by name and "asking after" the Bleeding Heart. That is success, my friends. These girls will love gardens forever.

Monday, August 24, 2009

St.Therese of Lisieux

This week I was able to make a dear friend very happy.

When I was in Paris, I shopped the Vanves flea market looking for something honoring "Saint Therese of Lisieux."

My friend, Nancy, has written a darling book about a fifth-grade girl who finds companionship and comfort by following St. Therese and her Little Way. Nancy loves writing Catholic fiction for kids and I really wanted to bring her something from France that she would cherish.

I found the perfect thing! A religious metal depicting Saint Therese that Nancy could wear on a necklace. I had the good sense to photograph the exact place I found it. So when we met for coffee, I was able to give her the metal, along with the photograph above inscribed "Vanves flea market, Paris, May 9, 2009."

She was thrilled and writes all about it in her blog

Now it's my turn to say, "Mission accomplished."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Petit Dejeuner Magnet

Do you remember when I showed you this super-sweet "Petit Dejeuner" magnet in a shop window in Paris?
My best friend and I were out to lunch at Nordstrom's when she handed me a box wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow. She got a sheepish look when I discovered that the box underneath was covered with postage marks and import stickers. When I opened the box and saw my precious magnet, my eyes welled up and I couldn't say a word. She had ordered it all the way from France for me. I cried, she laughed and her whole demeanor said, "Mission accomplished."
Thank you, Kim, you are magnifique!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Julie and Julia

Julie & Julia and French pastries on an open air patio. Don't you think that is the perfect birthday evening for me? Last night my dear friends, Phyllis & Helen, brought me along to their book club's movie night.

You just took a cooking class in Paris, they said.
You've seen Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian, they said.
You have a blog, they said.

When I told them that I had read both books that the movie was based on ("My Life In France" and "Julie & Julia"), it was clinched.  I was "crashing" their book club on my birthday.

And what fun I had. The movie was darling and made every girl in the theater want to try cooking Boeuf Bourguignon. What struck me the most was that it showcased passion in a way that you never see it in the movies.

Passion for cooking.
Passion for one's spouse.
Passion for a project that no one understands.

Bravo. We ended the evening on an open air patio talking about a book I wanted to write on Paris  (And I did! Click the link) and eating cream puff swan. I assure you, nothing could be better than that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday Bouquet

Today is my birthday and my rose garden has given me the best present ever!

Seven different varieties decided to say "Happy Birthday" to me all at once.

I am having a wonderful day and I want to thank everyone who has sent such lovely birthday wishes to me online.

Now on to enjoying the next 365 days!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Ultimate Suitcase

An old friend of mine is selling her house and moving. It will be to a different state, a different town, a different house and it makes her sad to leave the place where so many dear memories were made. As we were talking, I told her that the house is just a house. That she takes her whole life with her wherever she goes.
I may photograph everything. And paint landscapes on vacation. But it is in my mind where I keep everything I need to be me.
Remember that you are the ultimate suitcase - packed with stories, recipes and your own moments of delight.
(Above: A lakeside view of Lucerne, Switzerland)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chicken Coop

I was at a party this Summer talking about the weather, the garden, the usual, when a woman I had just met mentioned chickens! She had decided to keep chickens for the Summer and enjoy the process of tending them (as well as enjoy the bounty of fresh eggs). How cool!

She ordered them out of a catalog and they come to our tiny town through the US Mail Service. She said, "The post office called the house and said 'Your chickens are here!'"

When she invited my Mom and me to come over to "see the chickens," we jumped at the chance. She had the perfect hen house (that her husband and son designed and built together), a chicken coop and 6 happy chickens. It was as neat as a pin and simply fascinating.

We talked and talked. We thumbed through the chicken catalog (who knew?) and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other. Thanks, Maureen, for a really fun morning!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ice Cream Drink

I have the perfect suggestion for a hot Summer evening...make an ice cream drink! I use the term "make" loosely, because my recipe involves the Wendy's drive-thru and some Kahlua.

A long time ago, a friend told me this super-fast recipe for a Hummer. Normally made in a blender with vanilla ice cream, Kahlua and milk, a quick trip through the drive-thru for a Frosty means you can be enjoying the night with an "instant ice cream drink" before you know it. Simply add an appropriate amount of Kahlua to a vanilla Frosty, mix and pour in a pretty glass. Voila!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Woodward Dream Cruise

Today 1.5 million car lovers are camped out on a 16-mile stretch of Detroit's famous Woodward Avenue (the first paved road in the world). They are participating in the Woodward Dream Cruise, a one-day event where you can wander among 40,000 classic cars. The afternoon and evening are meant for "cruising" and thousands of people sit in chairs along Woodward to watch the amazing assortment of cars cruise past. You can see a Muscle car, Model-A, DeLorean and Hummer all drive by in a matter of minutes. An unorganized parade of automobile history. And you don't have to be in a classic car to cruise. Stick to the inside lanes and you can drive among the best. I "cruised" last night for about an hour and it was wonderful to see so many people enjoying a gorgeous night - families in camping chairs with a cooler and camera. They were sharing car stories and making memories.

This is Detroit and we love the cars we build.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Room With A View

Have you ever thought of ordering a poster-size print of one of your vacation photographs? I can't think of a neater way to "remember" your trip. Imagine being able to walk into your home office (or even laundry room) and see the view from your balcony or a sunset at "your" beach. Most online photo processing sites offer poster-size prints for less than $20.

It is just another way to have a room with a view.

Travel Tips

I am going to Bar Harbor, Maine in September.

I will be photographing the coast, scanning the shops and (apparently) eating wild blueberries on everything!

Any tips for me? I would love it if you would share any restaurant/cute shop suggestions so that I don't miss a thing!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cherry Clafoutis

It seems like just yesterday that I was standing in front of a bin of cherries (in Paris' Rue Poncelet market) talking with Patricia Wells about making Cherry Clafoutis. I can hardly believe that it has already been 3 months since I was in her cooking school in Paris. I told her the story of making cherry clafoutis with my nieces and how thankful I was (upon discovering that I had forgotten my cherry pitter) that "Purists leave the pits in to perfume the dish."

Now suddenly it is cherry season in northern Michigan, and I am making my Cherry Clafoutis again. I rely on a recipe I tore from a Williams-Sonoma catalog years ago - it works like a charm every time. Are you in the mood for Clafoutis ("klah-foo-tee")?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beauty School

Beauty is important!

When I was at the hair salon, there was an beauty school intern learning the finer points of doing a "Wash & Set."

As I sat under the dryer with foils in my hair, this young lady (read: mannequin head) was in the chair next to me and I could not resist taking her picture.

She was calm, cool and collected. Not at all worried about how her hair would "come out."

A delightful moment that I just had to show you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Master Plan

Why does this look so great? Because it is all part of the Master Plan. I will let you in on a decorating/gardening secret:
You have to imagine what you want in order to make it happen.

Long before my roses were blooming, I was at the ribbon store making plans. I decided to take a minute an concentrate on my gorgeous "Honey Dijon" roses.

I decided that the best way to show off their magnificent Country French color was as a small bouquet in a glass jar.

All I needed was a piece of ribbon that would highlight the light mustard petals. Voila! I have been saving this ribbon for 2 months and I was finally able to make my little bouquet.

The next time someone compliments your efforts, you can think to yourself, "It's all part of the Master Plan."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mother Nature

Doesn't your imagination run wild? We were whizzing down the road in search of a tomato stand when I saw this abandoned barn and said

A winding 2-track road leading up to an ivy-covered barn. Look how thick and green the vines are. And the wild sweet pea growing in clusters by the door.

Mother Nature is the caretaker now and she is doing a beautiful job.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Leelanau Peninsula is Cherry Country

I am in Cherry Country! Northern Michigan is bursting with cherries this time of year. My favorite "sign of the season" is seeing cherries in the road! On steep curves, water and cherries splash out of the containers as they are trucked from the fields. It is harvest time.

I bought 5 kinds of cherries (tart & sweet) at the farmer's market this week and I am going to make a homemade cherry liquor. My vision is combining vodka, sugar and a variety of cherries in a glass bottle and giving it a shake once a month. It should be fantastic by Christmas. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Birthday Month

August is my birthday month and I am doing my best to celebrate all 31 days. Why not? It is Summertime and there are far too many cupcakes, bon bons and conversations I want to have to fit it all into one day. Am I right?

So I am spreading the celebration out and whenever something fun starts to happen I say, "Well, it is almost my birthday." And that seems to explain everything.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Delicious Corn Soup

Could I make things any easier for you? Not a chance. If you are looking for a light Summertime soup to serve with grilled chicken or a big salad, this is the recipe for you.

Corn Soup

Empty 2 (15 oz) cans of sweet corn kernels (drained) into the blender. Add one can worth of 2% milk, 2 Tablespoons of flour and 2 Tablespoons of butter. Blend. Pour into a saucepan and cook until the soup is slightly thickened and piping hot. Ladle into pretty bowls, grind fresh pepper and salt on top and garnish with a basil leaf. Voila! Homemade soup that will be an instant hit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beautiful Jam Jar Vases

I want you to be on the lookout for beautiful "vases" everywhere. I found this gorgeous jar of Crabtree and Evelyn blueberry preserves (yum!) at a discount shop called Homegoods

It seemed as if they had just received a whole shipment of products from England. I bought some wonderful boxes of shortbread and tea for hostessing and one gorgeous jar of preserves!

Once the jar was empty, I brushed the label with a layer of Mod Podge. This protects the label from water splashes and will keep it perfect for years to come.

Remember, look for containers that are beautiful and interesting. Inspiration is everywhere!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Growing Sweet Peas

When I was in college, I had a Laura Ashley bedspread in a pattern called "Sweet Pea." 

The background was white and it had red, pink and periwinkle blossoms growing up it. My bed was so fresh and pretty - I have loved sweet peas ever since.

So this year, I bought a tiny sweet pea vine and planted it in a pot on the patio. I thought a little vertical interest would be pretty and I was hoping to enjoy some of my favorite blooms from long ago. It worked! The vine has been blooming steadily for weeks.

What took me completely by surprise? After the bloom fades, an actual pea grows! Who knew?

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Gardens of Mount Vernon

The precise boxwood sculptures at Mount Vernon took my breath away! George Washington loved all aspects of the garden and it shows in these spectacular grounds. I would love to create something like this in miniature...trimming thyme and rosemary into bushes and topiaries

Perhaps I could grow it in container garden (like a child's red wagon) and pull it into the sunlight/optimum growing areas of the yard throughout the season. I think it would be darling, don't you?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Frozen S'more

My grandmother made Graham Cracker ice cream every Summer when I was growing up. It was an old-fashioned method, similar to making a granita.

This year I decided to reinvent it and make frozen s'mores! Graham Cracker ice cream (loaded with Mini Chocolate Chips) topped with Marshmallow Creme. Yum! You have to be in the mood to "get your sweet on" but you won't be sorry.

Graham Cracker ice cream (with Mini-Chocolate Chips)

Mix 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, 1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups whole milk and 1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs. Chill mixture for at least 30 minutes. Pour into the freezer container of an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to ice cream maker instructions. When the ice cream is beginning to thickening, pour in 1/2 cup of mini-chocolate chips. Once it is a soft-serve consistency, transfer ice cream into a freezable container and freeze for an hour or so until firm.

To make a Frozen S'more, top a scoop of your Graham Cracker ice cream witha puff of Marshmallow Creme and a sprinkling of Mini-Chocolate Chips. Enjoy!