Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tinsel Trading

I have wonderful memories of my Fall trips to New York City and this time of year always makes me long for a chance to get my "ribbon fix." 

When I am in New York, my first stop is always Tinsel Trading (and their ribbon-only shop called "The Store Across The Street").  What a selection! And I love to shop in a store of like-minded people.  Nothing I say sounds crazy to them and that makes the hunt for the perfect ribbon all the more fun.

When I am here, I can hardly carry on a conversation over the noise in my head and I often have to sketch my ideas so I can remember which ribbon is for which project.  So much fun!  I always end up buying a little of this and a little of that for sewing projects, jewelry design and home accents.  

There is no such thing as too much ribbon. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Apple Pie

Have you made my famous "Trick or Pie" yet? 

Every year I make this pie and share it with the neighbors.  The tradition started years ago with my Garden Club Girls - you can read all about it here.  We call it "Trick or Pie" because that is what the girls yell when they come to the door in their costumes on Halloween night. We then take a few minutes to eat pie together on the driveway before they are on their way.  Love it!

Trick or Pie

1 frozen 9" deep dish pie crust

3 T. melted butter

3 T. flour

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. apricot jam

1/2 T. dried orange peel

1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1 t. cinnamon

1/8 t. nutmeg (it is the most fun if you use a nutmeg grater & whole nutmeg)

1/2 c. yellow raisins

2 lbs. granny smith apples, peeled, cored & sliced (it is the

most fun if you use an apple, peeler, corer slicer tool

Delicious Crunchy Topping

1 c. flour, 1/2 c. unsalted butter, 1/2 c. white sugar

Place pie shell into a glass/ceramic pie plate and then place the pie plate onto a cookie sheet (to catch any drippings and make removal from the hot oven easier). Combine pie ingredients (butter through apples) and mix well. Pour into pie shell. To make the delicious topping, combine flour, butter and sugar in a food processor (or with a pastry blender) and mix until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over the apples and bake at 375* for about an hour or until golden brown.  Yum!

And I say "famous" because the recipe is included in my book, Moments of Delight.  At the art show I was in this Summer, a customer (who had bought my book online) ran back into my tent and proclaimed, "I forgot to tell you that I love your apple pie!!!"  Now that is a successful recipe!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sweet Halloween

This is my idea of a Halloween display.  I love kids; I love candy.  But somewhere after that my interest in Halloween drops like a rock.  In order to be "me" this time of year, I let my world revolve around pretty gourds, yummy pumpkin recipes and leave the spooky stuff to everyone else.

Remember my white pumpkin display on the front table last year? So pretty!

This year I chose a "Galeux d'Eysines."  When I looked it up on a Pumpkin Identification chart, I thought it was fitting that I had inadvertently selected a French heirloom variety, as I have been spending every waking moment writing/editing/adoring my next book, "Paris: Delight in the City of Light."  My mind is all Paris all the time these days and it is spilling into the rest of my life.  Magnifique!

I found the scalloped paper mat at a scrapbook store (!) and it is called "Kitchen Spice Jasmine Die Cut" by Bo Bunny.  Could anything look more perfect under my little mushroom still life?

I found the work of artist Krys Kirkpatrick within the Earth Angels booth at the Country Living magazine's Country Fair last month.  When I saw this soft sculpture mushroom on a Japanese-paper wrapped platform, I was mesmerized.  I truly couldn't stop looking at it.  There is even a multi-layer pale green paper moth resting on the moss at the base.  I brought it home and have been loving it ever since.  This is art.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Delight magazine totes

I am in love with my new DELIGHT magazine cover!   Do you know about my imaginary magazine called (Ana) DELIGHT? 
Let me explain the concept in a nutshell. My philosophy is to "look at what you love." I love my photography. I love magazines. I love graphics. I love things that are both beautiful and interesting. I decided that I would rather carry a daybag that looked like a beautiful magazine, than any old leather purse with no personality.

I started to design what my magazine would look like, if it existed. I named it ANA Delight (I sign "ANA" on each bag). I use my photographs, build a magazine cover around it with graphics software and add the "article titles" that I would want to read. I think it is the ultimate in imagination and modern design. The tote is made (by me!) entirely of paper, plastic and tape.  I have this design available for sale in the blog sidebar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last Bouquet

(Sigh) I think these are the last flowers to be picked from my garden in 2010. This is a teacup bouquet of hydrangeas, lantana and roses (Tahitian Sunset, Daybreaker and Honey Dijon). 

What an incredible year it has been!  Remember this?   

But in order to appreciate my floral bounty, I think it is healthy to have a break from it.  My husband pointed out long ago that my "favorite season" is always the next season, so bring on Winter with its holiday cheer, hot cocoa and cozy fires.  This gardener has some novels to read!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Appetizers

Who wouldn't want to nibble on these while enjoying a glass of wine?  I am so happy with my recipe for Cheddar Leaves.  If you are looking for an unexpected appetizer for a Fall get together - this is it!

This savory cookie is rolled and cut just like a traditional sugar cookie - you'll need a food processor, the ingredients, a rolling pin, cookie sheets, parchment paper and some leaf cookie cutters.

Cheddar Leaves

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
10 or so shakes of hot sauce
1 1/2 cups flour

Blend butter, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and hot sauce in food processor.  Add flour and "pulse on and off" to incorporate flour.  Remove dough from food processor bowl, dust with flour and roll out (with flour as needed) as you would cookie dough.  Dip cookie cutters in flour and then cut out shapes.  Place dough shapes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 11 minutes.  Cool on a cookie cooling rack.  Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze and defrost later for the holidays.

This is a delicious appetizer to serve with wine and beer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moments of Delight

I don’t always use things for their original purpose. I turn teacups into candles. I use balsamic vinegar bottles as vases. I like to stretch the “intended use” for things. Apparently blogging is no different.
I thought that blogging would be a way to put myself out there. A way to give, show and delight others while I was building my brand.

What I have found is that blogging boomerangs back to me so quickly I am not sure if I am affecting or being affected! I take more photographs, so that I can show my readers something lovely that I saw. I pay more attention when I read books and magazines to spot trends and stories to share online. I am a little more careful when I measure out the salt in a new recipe, because I want it to be just right when I post it for my readers try.

When I look back over my 1,000 posts (and photographs!), I see a string of delightful days. I have a virtual scrapbook of everything that has brought me delight and for that I am grateful.
I love having a record of farm market trips and beautiful sunsets, of quirky crafts and pretty cakes. It was not the “intended use” of my blog, but then again, isn't that exactly how I do things?
I am committed to bringing my vision of delight to the world - are you with me?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Plant Tulips

It is time!  Gardeners know that to have an outstanding April, you have to show your commitment in October.

Get thee to the garden center to buy Spring flowering bulbs and get them in the ground ASAP.
Most planting guides refer to regional zones. If you are not sure which zone you live in, you can check the link at the National Arboretum above.

This beauty is called "Angelique" and has a bloom that is almost peony-like, don't you think?

Plant some tulips now (with hot pepper flakes and other squirrel deterrents) and reap the benefits this Spring.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dolls for Goodfellows

This summer my Mom handed me an article torn from the newspaper titled, Get ready to dress the Goodfellow dolls.  I read on and learned that the Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund of Detroit has been coordinating volunteers to dress dolls to distribute as Christmas gifts to needy children in metro Detroit since 1924!  How did I not know about this?

I told her, "I'm in!" and we have been scouting doll shops for outfits and accessories ever since.  I emailed Sari Klok-Schneider ( to register and before I knew it, 3 baby dolls (complete with shoes, socks and underpants) arrived at my house ready for us to dress.  The program details are listed here.  We purchased all the pieces we needed and had a wonderful time gluing flowers and ribbons to their hats, sewing on a purse and making sure that their slips had some pouf. 

Here they are, all ready to be loved.  We wrapped them in tissue and mailed them back to the Goodfellow's Headquarters yesterday.  This fantastic program will distribute 12,000 dolls to children this Christmas!  I am so proud to be involved.  If you are interested in supporting this program, registration usually begins in March and the distribution of dolls to volunteers begins in May/June.  I will re-post this blog in March to remind you to sign up.

I think every little girl should have a doll.  Are you with me?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kousa Dogwood

Isn't this a fantastic specimen?  These are the Fall berries on a Kousa Dogwood that I photographed on campus at Denison University in Ohio.  They must have a fabulous horticulture department! 
There are unusual trees planted throughout the campus - this is my favorite. It looks like calico fabric - it is as if this tree has sprung from Mary Engelbreit's imagination!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


We are the "Spartans" of Michigan State University

(Remember when I had my picture taken with our mascot, Sparty?)

Scottish actor, Gerard Butler recently starred as a Spartan warrior king in the movie, 300.  An excerpt from the movie (Gerard motivating his army before battle with the cry, "Spartans, what is your profession?") is played at the football games to enliven the crowd.

The surprise guest at this homecoming game was Gerard Butler!  He led the crowd in his famous line and was clearly pleased with the sound of 75,000 fans responding, "Woot, woot, woot!"

I love our Spartan Spirit!

Monday, October 18, 2010

French Toast on the Grill

Since I have international readers, I want to explain what happens at an American "tailgate."  Fans of the football team arrive at the stadium 3-4 hours before the game starts to have an outdoor party in the area behind their car. Rows and rows of families have casual parties that blend into each other.  People grill, throw a football around and listen to sports radio in a relaxed atmosphere before they head into the stadium to watch the game.

I have to say, a lot of planning went into having "the perfect tailgate" at Michigan State's homecoming game this year.  My Dad had a new Coleman "Road Trip" grill and since this was its maiden voyage, I thought we should cook on it twice!  In the days leading up to Homecoming, we joked that this was the agenda:

9:00             arrive and park outside the football stadium
9:30 - 10:30  breakfast
10:30-11:30  lunch
12 noon        kickoff

In truth, that is exactly what we did!  First we cooked French Toast on a griddle pan (thanks, Kim!).  We served it with maple syrup, fresh fruit and hot coffee.  I used a football stadium serving platter and MSU Spartan napkins to add some spirit.

Then we grilled bratwurst and hot dogs for a lunch!  Somehow, eleven family members managed to eat 2 meals in 2 hours.  We had a great parking spot, perfect weather and my dear family all crowded around the new grill.  So much fun!  Here is my successful outdoor French Toast recipe:

Anne's "Outdoor" French Toast

1 loaf Italian white bread
Stick of unsalted butter
8 eggs
2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 cups whole milk
Ground cinnamon
Log Cabin syrup (I know! but I love it)

Preparation at home:
Open a large plastic rectangular food storage container with a reliable lid.  In it, whisk together the eggs, salt, sugar and milk.  Seal and place in an ice-filled cooler.

On site:
Preheat the grill.  Place the non-griddle pan onto the grill.
When you are ready to make the French Toast, put a few butter pats on the griddle to melt.  Place 2 piece of bread into the egg mixture.  Turn to coat all sides, then remove from egg bath with a slotted spatula.  Place bread in a single layer on the griddle.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Repeat until you have 6 slices cooking.  Turn slices over (with a different spatula - clean and nonstick).  When bread is golden brown, the French Toast is ready to eat!  Have your guests approach the grill when they are ready and serve the hot French Toast slices right onto their plate.  Serve with butter, Log Cabin (or real maple syrup) and fresh fruit.  Yum! 

P.S.  Everything tastes better outside!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Today is Homecoming at Michigan State University - my alma mater!

I'll be tailgating with my family and enjoying a great football game. 

I promise to tell you all about it on Monday!  Go State!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photography Tips

Everyone I know has that "I want to capture everything" moment when their vacation is about to end.

I am no different and as our family reunion was drawing to a close this Summer, I went outside to photograph the view.

So much of photography is framing the scene.  The next time you go to take a landscape photograph, I hope these tips will help.

  • Include: Decide what elements you want to include in your picture.  For this shot, I wanted the tree, water, walkway, some Adirondack chairs and the fishing boat.
  • Exclude: Know that framing is also about editing out the distractions. There were some random items just over the fence that I kept out of this shot.
  • Highlight: In this photo, I wanted to highlight the fishing boat (symbolic of a quiet morning). Instead of centering it in the frame, I centered it between the umbrellas. See? It makes the boat very visible and an important part of the scene.
  • Placement: Since this gorgeous tree is the largest object in the picture, it is sure to get noticed.  By keeping it to the right, I can show you the tree without letting it take over the picture.

Voila!  I hope these 4 concepts help you to frame your next masterpiece.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hail the Herb

Would you ever think that an herb could steal all the thunder? 

As a scoured the garden looking for the last few signs of Summer, I took a good look at my variegated sage.  It was as happy and healthy as when I planted it in May and I remembered that I had the perfect little vase to showcase it in.

I had "stamped" (with a cotton swab) a similar shade of green glass paint onto an empty jam jar ages ago.  How pretty!

As I built this bouquet, I was happy to find some lantana and two "Daybreaker" roses in bloom.  I love how it looks together (especially against the black table), but I can't stop looking at the green!

Hail the herb!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mise en place

Mise en place is a French phrase meaning "everything in place."  It is most often used in kitchen as an organizational philosophy before beginning a recipe.

If you have "everything in place" (measuring bowls & spoons, specialty tools, serving/baking dish, spices and all of the ingredients) out on the counter, you are improving your chance of success with a recipe.

I like to follow this ideal because I am notoriously distracted in the kitchen.  People are my priority and if anyone is within earshot, I can't help but talk, tell stories and gesture.  This leads to the inevitable question...Did I actually put the salt in?  I doubled the flour, did I double the baking powder?

Usually these questions come to mind after the blur of white powders is in the bowl.  So lately, I have taken mies en place one step further.  After I measure and add an ingredient, I place the container of it on the other side of the counter.  It becomes evidence of my progress and has reassured me many times.  

Do you follow mise en place in the kitchen?      

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dreamy Decorating

I love how the textures and layers come together to make this room something special.  This room is nothing, if not relaxing.

With a foundation of Swedish-style wallpaper, I can add sweetness to the room with a few accent pieces.

The dreamy effect of this sideboard is sponsored by the color pink.  A combination of soft lighting (from a lace-trimmed lampshade), a distressed pink wooden candlestick and 2 roses just clipped from the garden combine to make a gorgeous vignette.

Want to recreate this look?  You can find your own interesting (but reasonable) glass candlesticks online at one of my favorite stores, CB2.  A set of pink candlesticks is as easy as buying cheap wooden candlesticks at the craft store and painting them yourself!  And the roses?  Well, you know how much I want you to grow a David Austin rose like Heritage

Take a little time and plan what you'll need to soften your little corner of the world.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I love to eat honeycomb!  I marvel at the genius of the bees and love that "nothing has been done to it." 

Comb honey is cut from the frame and placed directly in the package in which it is sold. 

To eat, take a knife and scoop out just enough honeycomb to spread on your toast - wax and all.  Yum!

Or stack a piece of white cheddar cheese on a cracker and then smear a bit of honeycomb on top.  Heaven!

As a larger appetizer, cut out the center of a wheel of Brie and sink in a square of honeycomb. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes and then serve with crusty bread...yum!

I am channeling Winnie-the Pooh.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Collecting Vintage Ornaments

I have started another collection.  I know, I am crazy!  I am already collecting:
  • Chelsea Dishes
  • Salt
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Dishtowels
  • Paper buildings
But it is so much fun!  Anyway, this is more of a project than a full blown collection.  I want to be able to put a bowl of vintage ornaments on display on my front table.  I'll only need 20 or so and then I am finished, I promise.

You are here with me on Day One.  This is my first vintage ornament and I bought it for 25 cents at our church rummage sale this week. 

I love the hunt for charming inexpensive items.  I don't want to spend more than a dollar or so.  That's what makes it so wonderful - the sum and sparkle is greater than the actual value.

If you know of an estate sale or someone who is trying to get rid of old (and worn) glass Christmas ornaments like this, will you tell me?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Snack on the Go

When I was planning my trip to the Country Fair, I decided that I wanted to bring a "Snack on the Go" that I could give to my Aunt (an antiques dealer) and her friend who were wroking the show and share with my parents and Dan during the long day.

My requirements were:
  • generally healthy
  • delicious
  • portable
  • no refrigeration required
  • cute (okay, it didn't have to be cute, but I thought that would be a plus)
Then I remembered my "Morning Muffins recipe."  They are always a hit - a bit like carrot cake, but not too sweet.  This time I baked a batch in my fluted muffin top pan and that provided the "cute!"  I packed each one in a Ziploc sandwich bag and they were ready to travel.

When I was sitting waiting for one of the seminars to begin, I decided it was a good time to sneak in a snack.  The woman next to me quietly asked where I had bought it because it looked so delicious.  Sadly, I didn't have any more to share, but I told her about the blog and that if she searched "Morning Muffins" she'd have the recipe for her next antiquing adventure.

Do you have occasions when you need a snack on the go?  Make and freeze these individually and you'll be ready for anything!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shopping For Gourds

October is flying by...I can prove it because I almost typed September!  Yikes, almost off by a whole month.

I don't know where the time is going, but one thing is for certain...I need gourds!  I took this photograph at Country Living magazine's Country Fair and it has me wanting an unusual shape & color for my front table.

I am actually going to buy one at a specialty grocery store! I would love to roam the pumpkin patch on a bright October day, but I don't have time this year. 

Convenience reins and I will simply pay "by the pound" and put it in my shopping cart.  Once it is home on display, I can forget all about the fact that I bought it along with my mundane grocery list! 

Selective Memory can be a wonderful thing. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

See Yourself in the City

I thought that you would like to see my homemade souvenir from a trip to New York City.

This is my "See Yourself In The City" mirror that literally puts you back in the middle of your trip!

To make my "See Yourself In The City" picture project:

Buy an 8 x 8 flat wooden frame at the craft store.  Select the photos you want to work with, and choose the "Contact Sheet" setting when printing, this will produce tiny photos like mine.

Use a decoupage medium to attach the photos to the frame and use a coat of the same over the photos as a sealer.  Be sparing with it, as you do not want the ink from the photos to run.  After the decoupage medium is dry, secure a mirror into the opening (on the back) with strong tape.  Voila! 

A super-cute way to put yourself back on vacation.  Just look in the mirror!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Transfixed by Good Design

I am transfixed by clear glass, white fabric and vintage typeface right now. 

I've been drinking my hot tea from a clear cup and saucer.  I am in love with the thick white matelasse tablecloth (bedspread?) I have on the table in the kitchen and I can't stop making book sculptures.

You see, I have been inspired by this photograph that I took of a shop window in Paris. 

Every year I wrap our gifts with a specific color combination in mind.  Remember my salute to SEWING?  And the fun MAPS?  This year's colorway for the Christmas season will be WHITE - with touches of newsprint and brown craft paper.  I can't wait to see how it turns out! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tiny Plates

While I was at the Country Living Fair, I fell for these charming little plates by Beaumont Pottery.  Some were stamped with lettering ("Tea" to catch a tea bag, "Butter" to put by a guest's dinner plate) while others had symbols like an angel or (my favorite) an old-fashioned church. 

I bought 6 plates in a variety of patterns and I am looking forward to all the different ways that I will use them.  As a matter of fact, my mother-in-law is coming to stay with us this week.  I will be using my little "Tea" plates before I know it!

(Note: If you are interested in some tiny plates of your own, you can call 740-982-0055 for pricing and shipping information.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Apple Chart

There are apples, apples everywhere this time of year.  While everyone has their favorite, this post is prompted by a sweet treat I devoured yesterday.

My friend, Corinne, invited me to a picnic lunch on her patio (we had a gorgeous Fall day: full sun and 68 degrees!) and for dessert she had bought a giant caramel apple.  I noticed that the packaging said, "Honey Crisp Caramel Apple."  I had never seen the apple variety specified on a dessert other than pie before, but I now I know was delicious!  If I ever make my own caramel apples, I will use Honey Crisps for sure!

I am including an apple chart so that you can print it and take it with you to the farmer's market or grocery store.  It specifies the best apples for salads, pies, snacking, baking - the perfect little summary created by the U.S. Apple Association.

Remember, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chocolate Acorns

Inspired by a recipe I saw in a magazine years ago, these little acorns have become my favorite Fall treat.  Roasted almonds hidden inside chocolate-dipped dates with a crushed almond cap.  They are the perfect after dinner treat with coffee on a chilly October night.

Chocolate Acorns
Toast 1 cup of whole shelled natural almonds on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Allow to cool.

Insert one almond into each whole pitted date, set aside.

Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (along with a few drops of vegetable oil) in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth.  You can microwave for additional 10 second increments, but be careful that the chocolate doesn't burn.

Dip approximately 10 stuffed dates into the semi-sweet chocolate and allow to dry on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. 

Melt 1 cup of milk chocolate chips (along with a few drops of vegetable oil) in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. You can microwave for additional 10 second increments, but be careful that the chocolate doesn't burn.When the cookie sheet is full, place it in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.

Repeat dipping step with the rest of the stuffed dates.

Now you have two different shades of brown acorns - some milk chocolate, some semi-sweet chocolate.

Grind the remaining toasted almonds into a chunky granules.  Re-melt the semi-sweet chocolate and dip one end of the milk chocolate dates into the chocolate and then into the ground almonds.  Return to the tray to set.

Re-melt the milk chocolate and dip one end of the semi-sweet chocolate dates into the milk chocolate and then into the ground almonds.   Return to the tray to set.

Put cookie sheet back into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to solidify.

Serve to your guests after dinner and listen to their compliments.