Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dinner Plate

When I say that my clematis has been producing blooms as large as a dinner plate, I'm not kidding!

I have my collection of Chelsea china on a baker's rack and as I walked by the other day, I realized the detail on the plates is the same color as my clematis.

The perfect way to prove my point - the blooms are huge! I heard lately that clematis like to have their "feet in the shade" so consider that when you are planting your vine. Put another plant at its base (for shade) and it will be happy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Counting Sheep

This photo makes me want to hum a lullaby. A sweet mama sheep and her baby relaxing on the big day. Last Saturday morning, I was at the "Spring Fiber Day" at the Mt. Bruce Station in Romeo, Michigan.

It was a beautiful day to walk the farm, shop from vendors selling yarn, knitting needles with straw sheep toppers, and all things wool-related. My favorite display was of a "flock of sheep" made from wool rovings and pipe cleaners. I bought one of these sheep on impulse because of the way he cocked his head - adorable!

As part of the festivities, the farm had scheduled sheep shearings that morning too. I have a feeling that this warm cloak is to keep the mama's precious wool clean.

Once a sheep is shorn, they look entirely different and a little chilly. Can't you see this confused lamb asking, "Are you my Mother?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lilly Pulitzer animal crackers

I consider myself to be a pretty observant shopper, but even I am impressed that I noticed this Lilly Pulitzer packaging in the cracker aisle of Target!

I certainly wasn't looking for anything "super cute" while I was stocking the pantry, but there it was. Who wouldn't want to pull this out of their straw beach bag? A perfect Summer snack - and so Lilly.

Barnum's Animal Crackers and Lilly Pulitzer have teamed up during the "Year of the Tiger" to raise awareness of the World Wildlife Fund. In honor of this collaboration, Nabisco's Barnum's Animal Crackers will donate $100,000 to support the World Wildlife Fund's tiger conservation work. Love it!

And yes, I've eaten a giraffe, rhinoceros and monkey since this post started.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mint Wagon

Tah-dah! I finally planted my little garden of mint. I've had this idea for a while now and was sure that it would look darling on my garden patio.

Since the mint is planted in a wagon, I have it right where I want it and can move it around to get more sun, to water it or to dress up a drab corner. Plus, mint is a very determined plant and left uncontained, it would take over any garden plot.

A friend saw my "mobile garden" plans (and my hunt for a small wagon) on Facebook and came up to me at an event like a secret agent and said under her breath, "I heard you're looking for a wagon." Classic!

She gave me a tiny Radio Flyer wagon that she had and you can see that it is perfect - just big enough to hold four varieties.

Pineapple Mint, Corsican Mint, Apple Mint and Chocolate Mint. I will use these beauties to dress up my iced tea and my flower arrangements all Summer long!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ballet Slipper Pink

I scored a set of 6 metal tray tables for $6 at my church's rummage sale!

They were white, covered with gold snowflakes and not in great shape. When I hauled them to the check-out table, some of the ladies were curious.

"Imagine them ballet slipper pink," I said with confidence.

Boy was I right! I am in love with my new tray tables! I sprayed two of them pink that weekend and have been moving them around the family room as needed.

Today one is supporting a fresh bouquet of lilacs from the side yard!

What would you like to spray ballet slipper pink?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Imogen Heap

Normally "delight" follows along the lines of things to see, taste, smell. But music is a huge part of my daily happiness and it is time to tell you about my favorite musician ever: Imogen Heap.

She is a British singer/songwriter who writes and sings exactly what I want to hear. How's that for an endorsement?

You know how when you eat a piece of chocolate and think - yes, that's it. I feel that way when I hear her music - yes, that's the pitch, tone, layers of sound that I want to hear.

I have followed her career for years (nominated for "Best New Artist" in 2007 and won a Grammy for "Best Engineered Album - Non Classical" for Ellipse in 2010) and love how she connects music and technology. You can hear a terrific interview with Imogen about her creative process here on National Public Radio.

YouTube had lots of her videos - this link should show you one titled "Headlock." It is a perfect example of my mantra - Beautiful and Interesting.

She was in concert last weekend (she hadn't been back to Detroit in three years) and it was wonderful. She had offered ticket holders the chance to vote online for the 12 songs they wanted to hear "live." The website tallied the votes and each city gets a custom playlist based on their votes - isn't that modern? I love stuff like that.

She also solicited nominations for charities in each city. After reviewing each one online, she chose one charity per city to receive the proceeds from the sale of an "improvisational track" created during the concert. She explained onstage that she didn't want to come to a city, perform and then leave - she wanted something good to be left behind. Neat, eh? When the track is released online, I will put a link here.

The Detroit, Michigan charter of Urban Farming (planting gardens on un-used land) will benefit from the sale of the track composed by her on-stage in Detroit.

Plain and simple - Imogen Heap is a delight!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Greenhouse Effect

Have you been saying "Yes?"

I have had the most interesting experiences lately, just by saying "Yes."

I was at lunch with a friend near the campus of Oakland University when she mentioned her latest acquisition - a big pot of geraniums! The university has an annual plant sale and she had fallen in love with a pre-planted pot for her front porch.

"It's in a historic greenhouse - wanna go?"

She had me at historic. We tromped through this amazing glass building (built in 1914!), peered in the "grotto" (damp, fern root-filled mini cave), looked at a 90-year-old cactus specimen and picked out two lavender & white striped verbenas. So pretty.

The best things happen when you say YES!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Maine Land

Isn't this something? It is as if the fishermen of Bar Harbor knew I was coming and ordered brand new lobster buoys!
I took this photo last September on one of my favorite days. I was travelling with my dear friend, Angie, and we had just arrived by boat to spend the day visiting and exploring Little Cranberry Island.
Can you see the boat with the blue canopy in the distance? It is called "Delight" (I can't make this stuff up! See my post about it here) and was our ride home that evening.
I have been thinking a lot about Maine and life on that little island. It was quiet and friendly and beautiful. On our last day, when we were driven back to the docks to leave, a local woman (and now my friend!) asked me, "How can you leave, now that you've been here?" And I have thought about that statement many times since.
I was so happy for her in that moment and wished that everyone could love where they lived even half as much.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lily of the Valley

Here comes the bride! I mean really, where is a bride when you need one? My best friend has millions of lily-of-the-valley growing in deep green swaths across her shady backyard.

Each year we try to find a date that the sun, the blooms and our schedules are all in alignment. When we do, I lay in her backyard and take photo after photo. What a delight! While I was busy taking pictures yesterday, Kim picked this bouquet for me to share with my mom. Thanks, Kim!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flower Arranging Tip

As far as I'm concerned, the flowers do all the work when it comes to flower arranging.

I love to build a small bouquet of complimentary colors and shapes - making sure to include some green leaves (and a touch of mint!).

But my secret weapon...

Orchid clips! Often called "daisy clips" they are small green or brown clips that hold an orchid stem to the supporting stake.

These clips are perfect for holding the flowers in your small bouquets just how you want them. I always nab one of these clips off my orchid and "re-purpose" them here!

Once you've arranged each flower into the bouquet, hold the stems together and clasp them securely with an orchid clip.

Voila! Your bouquet is ready to drop into a vase of water. When the water needs to be changed, the entire bouquet lifts out easily, you refresh the water and then return the bouquet to the vase. No rearranging, no drooping stems.

Let the gardening begin!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Love Lemon

Ever since my parents let me abscond with their electric juicer, I have been experimenting with lemon recipes. Lemon curd, Lemonade, and now Mini Lemon Meringue tarts!

You'll need:

6-pack of mini-graham cracker pie crusts

Lemon Filling
1 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
juice of 4 large lemons
4 eggs
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in a large sauce pan. Whisk in eggs, butter and lemon juice. Cook mixture over medium low heat - stirring constantly (approx 10 min) until thick. Remove from heat and cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Keep mini-graham cracker crusts in their metal tins and place all 6 on a cookie sheet. Take a large spoon and fill each crust with the lemon mixture.

Meringue Topping
In a clean mixing bowl, combine 3 egg whites with a splash of vanilla. Using the whisk attachment, beat eggs until foamy. Add 3 Tablespoons of white sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form.

To pipe the meringue onto the pies, I used a very large Ateco Tip #829 and taped it in the (cut out) corner of a plastic Ziploc bag. Spoon the fluffy meringue into the bag, twist the bag shut and squeeze the meringue onto the top of each mini-pie. So pretty!

Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Perfect Haze of Pink

I just love my three flowering crabapples! For a few weeks each year, they make a perfect haze of pink outside our windows - just like I wanted.

Our house was part of a new construction neighborhood. So on top of everything else we had to decide, we needed to make a full landscape plan too - sod, trees, bushes.

We hired a landscape company to coordinate and plant everything, but instead of having them draw up plans, I did it myself. Who better to decide which trees I wanted and where they should go, right?

As the "planting" date drew closer, I called the landscaper to coordinate the best day/time for us to go pick out the trees.

One morning (bright and early) he picked me up in his truck and we rode out to the wholesale tree farm. I couldn't wait to choose just the right flowering crabs, dogwood and lilacs.

As we chatted on the long ride out there, I asked him what it was like to shop for trees with people. Did they always know what they wanted? Was is overwhelming? Did he like this part of the job?

He looked at me and said, "Honestly, Anne, you are the first person who has ever wanted to come."

Ha! Well, I thanked him for letting me come along (realizing I was suddenly far outside the landscaping "norm") and thought the whole process was fantastic just the same. If I were landscaping again, I wouldn't change a thing. I mean, look at my trees! I picked them out myself.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Soap Dish

Sometimes I just crack myself up. Check out the soap dish. It is a lidded heart-shaped dish that I made out of...soap. I was in the mood to make something that was interesting and beautiful.

I had been experimenting with a glycerin soap kit (trying to make some pretty soaps) when I decided to try forming it in a chocolate mold! I'm not sure that I could make it again - I felt very lucky as I eased it out of the mold. But isn't it fun?

I keep this soap dish in my blue polka dot powder room next to the bottle of liquid hand soap. I don't think anyone would believe that they could lather up with either one!

I just had to show you. What do you think?

Friday, May 14, 2010


I miss watching the sun set.

In suburban life, the closest we get to a sunset is noticing some "pink in the sky." But once the Summer starts, I can spend a weekend in my favorite little town and see the sun sink into Lake Michigan. Two more weeks and I'll be there.

For me, nothing is more relaxing than watching the sky change from bright blue and yellow to smoky gray and red.

When I am at the lake, I stop everything to watch the sun set. The card game is suspended, the dishes are left to soak, the movie is paused.

Show some respect, I say, the sun is going down.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ginger Limeade

Bento box, anyone? I was so glad that I was able to sneak in a trip to Teaism while I was in Washington, D.C.

Teaism is a restaurant that blends the tastes and traditions of an Asian tea house with the informality of American life. You can drop in, walk up to the counter and order and eat within minutes. This is my chilled teriyaki salmon bento box with edamame, pickled cucumber-ginger salad and rice - yum! Devoured this along with my favorite in-house beverage: Ginger Limeade!

I've been making and drinking Ginger Lemonade for years and I thought it was time to crack the code and share a super-simple Ginger Limeade recipe with you.

Open one can of frozen limeade concentrate and empty it into a large pitcher. Note the amount of water required to reconstitute the limeade (usually 4 1/2 cans worth of water). Bring that amount of water to a boil. Peel & dice 3-5 Tablespoons of fresh ginger. Add to boiling water and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes like tea. Strain ginger from water with a sieve and add ginger water to the frozen concentrate. Chill and enjoy over ice!

If you would like even more ginger flavor, you can now buy bottled ginger juice and that is sure to kick it up!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gardens at Washington National Cathedral

How lucky am I? The rain stopped, the clouds dispersed and a little blue sky opened up above the Washington National Cathedral!

I was standing in the Bishop's garden composing this photo when the church bells began to ring!

What did I do?

I called my mom and held the phone up for her to hear. She loves church bells and used to take me to carillon concerts when I was young. She couldn't believe our luck that they happen to ring when I was standing in the garden.

As I looked on the cathedral website, I found that the Washington Ringing Society performs the art of "change ringing" every Sunday (after the 11 am service) at approximately 12:30 pm.

I just looked on my computer for the photo properties and found that this picture was taken at 12:32 pm. Neat, eh?

Can you hear the church bells ringing?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Needlepoint Cushions

I had my first chance to wander inside the Washington National Cathedral last week. It's gorgeous! Tomorrow I'll show you the building itself (and the gardens), but today I want to talk about the needlepoint! This handiwork (depicting what I believe is the White House) is part of a larger bench design on the south side of the entrance.

You may not realize this, but needlepoint cushions (the patterns, colors and style) have been part of church-life for hundreds of years. As alter cushions, pew cushions, prayer kneelers - I love that a traditional craft made with love and patience, can serve a congregation for generations.

As I looked for a link to the Washington National Cathedral, I found this fascinating article in the Washingtonian. It was written for the cathedral's centennial celebration and is loaded with interesting facts and stories - far more than I can innumerate here.

In this article, I learned that this bench is one of thousands of needlework pieces in the Washington National Cathedral! So many needlepoint pieces, that there is a Needlepoint Committee charged with their care and preservation. Fascinating!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Three Years of Delight

I still can't believe it...I have been blogging for 3 years!

Six days a week, I post one of my photographs along with a recipe, thought or idea that focuses on the beauty of everyday life.

I write about travel, baking, gardening, crafts, interior design, holidays, collecting...all while tucking in some sweet stories as they happen.

The comment box may seem quiet, but did you know that over 4,000 people are dedicated to delight and return more than a 100 times each year?

Thanks for finding delight!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

National Archives: Original Documents on Display

When I entered the National Archives in Washington, D.C., I was ready for a swell of patriotism. My husband and I have been watching a HBO mini-series called "John Adams" and I felt fluent in the names, philosophies and effort that went into drafting our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. My middle/high school did not have a class trip to our nation's capital (as my nieces & nephews do) so this was my first chance to see the documents in person. I got a kick out of seeing John Hancock's John Hancock (supposedly written big enough for the King of England to see it) and finding John Adams' signature among his peers. It took a while to get through the queue, but it was worth it.

What I didn't expect to see, were paper artifacts related to favorite books from my childhood. I glanced in one glass case and saw a homestead document for Charles Ingalls' purchase of land in 1886. Charles Ingalls (father of author, Laura Ingalls Wilder) was the inspiration for the character we know as "Pa" in the beloved Little House on the Prairie series. Isn't that neat? A piece of paper that showed that there really was a "Little House in the Big Woods." Love it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hillwood: Marjorie Merriweather Post

Last weekend, I arrived at Marjorie Merriweather Post's Hillwood Estate (just outside Washington, D.C.) and immediately started photographing the grounds - azalea beds, statues and naturalized winding paths.

Ms. Post was a collector, philanthropist and in 1914 (at the age of 27) became one of America's wealthiest women, as the sole heiress of the Postum Cereal Company.

In 1955, she purchased this estate and began working with architects and designers to alter the mansion to house her incredible collection of French and Russian art. You can view some of the collection online, including a small navy blue Faberge egg that is displayed in the "Icon Room" on the main floor of the house.
Today I am showing you her French Parterre - a formal garden with intricate boxwood plantings situated below the terrace just outside the French Drawing Room. To the right of this photo (in the shade), there is an ironwork table and chairs. It was quiet, except for the sound of the fountain and I sat there trying to imagine the conversations that would have taken place here. (sigh) If only it were forty years earlier and Ms. Post could have told me all about her vision for a museum called "Hillwood."

I knew I would enjoy the grounds, the greenhouse, the art (and dishes!), but I had no idea how "complete" the experience would be. Marjorie Merriweather Post lived in this house like it was a museum, therefore every object is lit and displayed as she wanted her guests - present and future - to see it. Fascinating.

Now while we are talking about museum homes, I want to give you a vacation photography tip.
When you are planing a visit to a historic building with gardens (Monticello, Mount Vernon, Hillwood) arrive when it first opens in the morning and head directly into the gardens to take your photographs (when the other visitors are still inside getting acclimated). It is the only time of day that you'll have the property to yourself and won't have to Photoshop strollers out of your gorgeous pictures! You can thank me later.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Delightful Tour of Washington

I am just back from an incredible trip to Washington, D.C.

Over the next few days, I will take you:

To Hillwood (the grand estate of cereal heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post) where I saw my first Faberge egg!

To the National Archives to see John Hancock's John Hancock

and to the inspirational gardens of Washington National Cathedral.

Join me?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Patricia Wells in Paris

Can you believe that it has already been one year since I spent a magical week in Paris with Patricia Wells? It seems like just yesterday I was sitting with Patricia at her kitchen table shelling fresh peas - heaven!

If you ever have the chance to take an "At Home with Patricia Wells" class, I highly recommend it. You'll find yourself talking, cooking and laughing alongside the most delightful icon of cooking. It is the epitome of delight!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bleeding Heart

My first surprise this Spring was that my Bleeding Heart was in bloom. I had it in a pot on the patio last Summer and thought that it was an "annual" - I never dreamed that it could "Winter" outside in the cold. But it not only "came back," but grew so quickly that by the time I noticed it, it was in bloom! Hooray!

This photo was taken just days before the red heart blossom opened and exposed the dangling white droplet. So pretty!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Something Dog

For years I have reminded (and then quizzed) the Garden Club Girls on the names of the flowering trees in our neighborhood. It is my favorite time of year on our street and it only lasts about three weeks. I think it's adorable that they always get stumped on the magnificent tree in front of my house.

"Umm...umm...something dog!"

No matter how long or short the Winter, the name "Dogwood" just doesn't stick with them. So here it is, my "Something Dog" tree in full bloom. I originally planted two Dogwood trees by the front walk in the hopes of have twin Dogwoods growing and draping majestically. The first year they were short, pruned in an oval-shape and it looked like I had stuck two Q-tips (cotton swabs) in the lawn! Then one of the trees died and I was worried that nothing would be able to thrive in this space. But the other tree made it and has been growing beautifully all on her own ever since.

Do you ever call trees by a different name?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rum-soaked Cake

Remember those fantastic boxed liquor cakes that are popular gifts around the holidays? Well, who can wait for Christmas?

I was entertaining this week and I wanted to serve a special (but easy!) dessert. Enter my rum-soaked cake...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a Bundt or beautifully-shaped cake pan. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 box of yellow cake mix, 1 box (3.4 ounces) of instant vanilla pudding, 1/2 cup light rum, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 4 eggs. Beat until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour in prepared cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes. After 10 minutes, gently un-mold the cake from the pan onto a platter. After this success, place the baking pan back on top of the cake, turn the platter/cake pan over and return the cake to the pan. The next step is soaking and you need the shape of the pan to help stabilize the cake.

In a small sauce pan, melt 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons or 2 ounces) of butter. Add 1/4 cup light rum and warm the mixture. While cake cools, slowly pour this rum bath over cake and into the open space on the sides (between the cake and the pan). Let it rest an hour. Place the serving platter over the cake pan and gently turn it over. The cake should easily un-mold on the platter. Serve cake warm or room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.