Friday, December 30, 2011

City Series, Houston: Ninfas

I was so glad to be able to visit the original Ninfa's on Navigation in Houston.  I love fajitas and Mama Ninfa is created with bringing the popular dish to the public by first serving fajitas in her restaurant more than twenty years ago.

Everything was outstanding.  The food, the service, the atmosphere.  I can still recall how delicious the handmade tortillas were and I definitely ate my weight in chips and salsa that night, I couldn't help it! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

City Series, Houston: Ima Hogg

While I was in Houston, I wanted to visit Ima Hogg's famous estate. I made it as far as the gardens when I realized that it was closed early that day because of a "Candlelight Tour" scheduled for that evening.

I really wanted to see the art, furniture and style of this icon Houstonian. And the fact that she rose above her comical name (and was said to have signed her first name illegibly) makes me like her even more. I enjoyed seeing a bit of her gardens on this chilly Houston day and promised myself to come back when the azaleas are blooming and I can wander around inside for as long as I want.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

City Series, Houston: British Isles

And these are just the teapots!  Have you ever fallen for a place online and were then able to visit it "in person" later? 

I found British Isles online when I was searching for more tin plates, like the ones I bought at Windsor Castle.  Voila!  I found the plates and when they shipped I noticed that the business was actually a bricks and mortar store in Houston.  I go to Houston, I thought, and I put it on my list.

Well the "real" store exceeded my expectations and my sister-in-law recalls me saying, "Just to be clear, I want to stay 9 more days, just in this store, so that I can look at everything."  Ha!

British candy, English tea, Scottish sausages, paper goods, sweaters, is amazing.  Just look at this selection of tea and biscuits!
 I want to England and to British Isles in Houston.  What a delight!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

City Series, Houston: Criossant Brioche

Ooh la la.  Take me for a lunch inspired by France and I am happy!  When shopping in Rice Village, we only had to read the sign "Croissant Brioche" to know that we were destined to have our lunch there.

Quiche, jambon et fromage on a baguette, fresh green salads with nut-oil vinaigrette - we were in heaven.  We could choose anything from the case to accompany our entree and I was completely happy with this luscious apple pastry.  Bon appetit!

Monday, December 26, 2011

City Series, Houston: Restoration Hardware

These days not a lot of retail stores can make me say, "Wow."  The economy just hasn't been conducive for lavish build outs anymore.  So when I was visiting family in Houston, my sister-in-law said that a friend suggested she take me to the new "Highland Village Restoration Hardware."  Okay, I said, but we do have Restoration Hardware at home...

I had no idea what I was in for.  Hands down the most spectacular retail setting I have seen in years.  An 3-story retail mansion designed to show you just how beautiful real life can be.  The gray-on-taupe-on-cement coloring embraces the very same color scheme Martha Stewart started trumpeting years ago and that's okay.  It is gorgeous.

The photo above shows a lavish RH bedroom as you would see it in a furniture store - every pillow, lamp and sheet all tucked in its place.  This isn't the kind of store you pick up and carry your purchases around.  Here you're assisted by an iPad-toting salesperson who clicks and confirms your every wish electronically.
Have a chateau that you need to fill?  Above is the perfect tufted couch for twenty of your closest friends to relax on.  Can you believe the scale of this piece?  Everything is bigger in Texas, that's for sure.  But I love it!    

And the crowning glory of this building is the 3rd floor greenhouse/sun room (with tent-like shades on the enormous windows to shield clients from the sun) that highlights outdoor seating, offers custom floral and succulent arrangements and has doors leading out to a rooftop living space.  I can only imagine the glorious special events that the company can host here.  It's genius.

If you are ever within driving distance of "The Gallery" at Restoration Hardware (Los Angeles and Houston), be sure to visit this stellar example of grand design - it will not disappoint.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in Vienna

That's what my Christmas wrapping theme feels like to me: Christmas in Vienna.  The gilding, the classical music, the fine china - can you see what I mean?

I accomplished it by choosing wrapping papers in cream and gold, photo-coping vintage sheet music to wrap extra special packages and by placing fancy pipe cleaner snowflakes under the tree to add depth and interest. 

The china?  In this photo, you can see one of two new tin plates that are reproductions of famous British china patterns.  I bought them to add to my collection while I was in Houston and stuck them under the tree as soon as I arrived home.  It is just the kind of thing Santa would bring me.  He knows good design when he sees it.  Merry Christmas!   

Friday, December 23, 2011

Vintage Shiny Brite Tree

After a year of collecting, my (primarily) "Shiny Brite" Christmas tree is ready for display!  I love these classic American ornaments from the 40's and 50's and have had fun scouring flea markets and antique stores for just the right mix.  I've loaded the branches with as many ornaments as I could and I just love it.

These ornaments are the small and delicate, each is about the size of a small plum.  I love how the bright colors, stripes and shapes catch the light and give the tree depth.  I made a raspberry pique tree skirt with a pom-pom edge and it highlights the pink in the tree perfectly. 

My little vintage tree turned out exactly as I hoped it would - the perfect way to showcase my collection.  Now imagine Bing Crosby singing, "White Christmas" and it will be like you're right here with me.

Merry Christmas!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Luncheon

I hosted my mom and her sister (my aunt, Carol) for a Christmas lunch this year - doesn't the table look pretty?  The dishes were my grandmother's (their mother's) and is known as "Jewel" by Spode.

I layered a red and green plaid tablecloth (by Tag) with coordinating cloth napkins, green-handled silverware (similar to this) and used my little pale green Christmas tree as the centerpiece.

I love this little tree because it is loaded with vintage-style cooking implements.  Whisks, potato mashers, rolling pins and cookie cutters.  It is so "me" and looks perfect surrounded by a little town of green and white houses.

After soup and salad, we ended our meal with a chocolate "Home For The Holidays" cake served on a silver platter with homemade butter cream snow drifts.  So cute! 

In the hustle bustle of the holidays, nothing is better than enjoying a quiet lunch with family.  I wish you many meals like this in 2012. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Festive Cakes

When my friend called me for directions to our "Euchre Night," she asked what I was bringing.  It was a holiday-themed card party and she was curious to hear what I was up to.

I told her that I was making a cake, but that it was less about the cake and "All about the stencil."  Can you blame me?  Look at this masterpiece!  Anything that can look this good just by shaking powdered sugar on it, is a dream come true.

The stencil is by Martha Stewart and you can get one here.  I used a yellow box cake mix and made homemade chocolate butter cream icing.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup whole or 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.  Add additional milk, if needed to be spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla.  Spread on cake smoothly.  Put in refrigerator for a while to let the icing set, this allows the stencil to be placed on the icing, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and then lifted gently away, leaving a gorgeous image.  Voila!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) in London

Tah-dah!   The shops and spots from Ina's trip to London are listed here.  The "Barefoot in London" episode of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa television special has created a lot of interest for foodies around the world.  If you have been searching for a list of places she visited, you can find it here.  Enjoy!

  • La Fromagerie - bacon sandwiches

  • William Curley Chocolatier - chocolate lollipops with fruit and nuts

  • Ottolenghi - a Middle Eastern specialty food shop - cheese straws and sliced potatoes)

  • Harwood Arms gastro pub - Ploughman's Lunch (lincolnshire poacher cheese, keens cheddar, pork pie, potato bread, walnut bread, fresh radish, celery, carrots, apple, 7 min eggs, apple chutney and piccalilli relish)

  • Borough Market was toured by Tom Parker Bowles

  • William Yeoward - placemats, glassware, holiday tablescapes

  • I blogged about my visit to La Fromagerie here.  And you can read about additional locations I loved in England by clicking the "London" (and "England") links in my City Series section in the blog sidebar.  

    I am an author, blogger and candy-lover that writes about things that bring people delight - explore my other 1,600 original blog posts and find delight. 

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Vintage Christmas Cards

    One of my favorite things to scout for at flea markets and antique shows are vintage Christmas cards.  Remember when I made small pillows out of the image from this card?  It became the perfect hostess gift for me to bring to holidays parties.  When my friends look at a sea of wine bottles and candy tins left behind at their party, I want them to see a gift that was made especially for them.  It's the little things, right?

    This card has three pages that fold to create a 3-dimensional view of "dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh."  Don't you love it?  It is signed "Earl, Pearl and family, 1952" and has the music score to Jingle Bells printed on the back, in case the whole scene inspires you to burst into song.

    The digital world is fine and bulk photo cards depicting the family is nice, but my heart loves a card that sums up the excitement of coming home for the holidays.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Christmas Heirlooms

    I learned a great lesson about love, collecting and the passing on of heirlooms this year, and now is the perfect time to share.

    This photo was taken (by me) at a different outdoor antiques fair, but I'll use it today to show you how vintage ornaments (usually $1-3) can be displayed for sale - in one layer, gently cushioned in tissue.

    On the day of this story, the ornaments that caught my eye were in an open, unmarked box.  I wandered down the series of tables to the vendor, a quiet woman in her late sixties, and asked her how her ornaments were priced.  
    "$16 each.  But that's because these are the real-deal made-in-Germany blown-glass ones from the 1940's."
    "How nice," I said, "they are beautiful, but that is a little too much for me. Thank you, though," and I started walking back toward my husband, who happened to be in the direction of the ornament box.  She followed and when she got to the display, she stopped and started talking to me about vintage ornaments in general.  I responded with, "It was this pale pink one that caught my eye."

    "Oh that one was my mother's, here, you can have it," she said lifting the ornament from the box.

    What?  Why would she give it to me?  What was happening?  Then I really heard what she was saying as she walked back to her tissue and bags.  Yes, there was mention of her dog that had been getting into her tree;  he even tried to chew one lately.  But she also said, "I don't have any kids" to me...twice. 
    When someone repeats something in the same few sentences, that is the real message and thank heaven I caught it.  This women had decided to "pass down" her mother's ornament to me.  By singling it out, I had unknowingly shown her that I would be a good steward for her treasure, and when she told me that it was her mother's she guaranteed that I would be extra careful when I put it away each year.

    The surprising thing is that I didn't cry on the spot, as I am now while I write this. 

    "Merry Christmas, dear woman, your heirloom is safe with me."

    Gingerbread Neighborhood

    Sometimes I wonder why I don't work in a bakery.  I would love love love to be able to pipe frosting on gingerbread houses all day.  I stopped in my tracks in the bakery section of Central Market in Houston when I saw this gingerbread neighborhood!  It was a sight to see.

    I'm convinced that I am genetically predisposed to love baking.  I get sentimental when the special displays are set up in the grocery store - candied orange peel, new cartons of baking powder, bars of baker's chocolate - "Hello, old friends!"

    I "collect" colored sugar and sprinkles like it was embroidery floss or watercolor paints.  Color is color and I have to have it, no matter the medium.  Do you fell this way?  Is your DNA coded for baking?

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Gingerbread Cookie Tin: Cute is Forever

    I have had this Gingerbread House cookie tin for at least ten years, maybe more.  But last night it single-handedly proved my theory that "Cute is Forever."

    I went to the Junior League of Birmingham's New Member cookie exchange with 3 dozen gingerbread men (yea!) and brought my gingerbread house tin as a means to carry the cookies I got at the exchange.  The girls like the gingerbread men alright, but it was this cute tin that got all of the attention.  When asked where I got it, I said that it had been at least 10 years and that I couldn't remember where I found it.  Then I added, "But cute is forever."
    ***Update: November 2013: Fancy Flours is NOW carrying this Gingerbread Cookie Tin!

    Now we can't buy everything we see, and I know that we can barely store what we have, but sometimes a standout item like this is too cute to pass up.  And every time you pull it out, you'll love it all over again.  When you work this hard on cookies, you need a worthy container. 

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011


    Isn't this a charming nativity?  My sister-in-law bought it in Mexico years ago and it has a special place on her fireplace mantle.

    I was struck at how the base color of the figures matches the bricks in her fireplace perfectly - it was meant to be.  Do you have a sentimental nativity?

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Adorable Holiday Candy

    I was going for "cute" and got delicious too!  I was at the cake and candy supply store, happily spinning the rack of chocolate candy molds, when I saw this!  A plastic mold that makes 10 "house" chocolates per batch - adorable!

    I wanted to try making some simple chocolates to serve with coffee and cookies over the holidays.  I knew that Wilton made favored/colored chocolate wafers (or discs) that could be put in clear piping bags and melted in the microwave.  I wanted to make the house look "Colonial" so when I saw peanut butter discs at a Michaels Craft Store, my mind said "khaki!" - the perfect color of "siding" for my house.

    I used some dark chocolate discs that I had from another project and Voila! I have a super cute candy that tastes like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.

    The candy you see here is from my first batch - there is not much of a learning curve, I'm happy to say.  The only change I need to make is to pipe less peanut butter into the house cavity so that it doesn't seep outside the lines of the house.

    • Use disposable plastic bags - you can microwave in them and toss them when you're finished
    • After the peanut butter is piped in, lightly "drop" or tap the mold to let any bubbles escape the chocolate.  Do the same after you pipe in the dark chocolate.
    • Allow chocolate to set before trying to unmold.  I put mine in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.  Gently twist the mold to release (similar to what you would do with an ice cube tray) and then tap and push on the back of the mold (face mold down onto wax paper-covered counter top) to encourage the chocolates to release.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Holiday Decorations

    So far, this is my favorite holiday light display. I was in Houston, Texas last week (stay tuned for a City Series on Houston after Christmas) and noticed so many kinds of Christmas decorations that I've never seen in Michigan.

    One grand display I saw was a neighborhood that had white lights strung along subdivision streets for what felt like a thousand feet! Hundreds of 4 foot high poles suspend strand after strand of small white lights. These poles are placed 6 feet apart and, when wrapped with white lights and connected, they create a rail of light that lines the street in mid-air. It is simply beautiful decoration that is easy for neighbors to participate in.

    The charming Christmas tree shown here wins my award for most creative.  This "tree" is made completely of lights! Solid strands of green lights are attached to the facade of a fireplace. Then multicolor lights become the ornaments and a red tube light represents the string of lights. Do you love it? I thought you would!

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Family Tree Ornaments

    My tradition of filling a "family tree" with Christmas ornaments that I've made from family photographs was mentioned in the Detroit Free Press newspaper today.  You can see the article here

    The Family Tree has fabric photo ornaments that are printed on June Tailor Inkjet Fabric Sheets. Then I sew them to a coordinating fabric, "pink" the edges (create zigzag with scissors) and glitter the wedding bouquet or hair bow in the photo. I tuck them into the branches, or they can be hung from ribbon. I also hang old family photos framed in small glass picture frames.  I created labels for the back of each ornament to identify the person and their connection to us.

    As for the article, I love having a photo credit in a major newspaper (front page, above the fold, no less!) as well as being mentioned in the same breath as Katie Brown, another lifestyle expert and Michigan-native.  I have long-admired her collection of housewares and the natural aesthetic in her designs.

    Want to see the entire Family Tree?  I thought so...

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Butterflies on Christmas Tree

    Want to add a little whimsy and magic to your Christmas tree? How about A few glittered butterflies hovering around the branches?

    These 1 inch craft store butterflies were dyed another color and I simply coated them with craft glue and doused them with magenta glitter. When you are in the store, choose the ones that come on a thin wire. Once the glue has dried, you can wrap the wire around a branch and let them hover. I wouldn't do too many, just enough to catch someone's eye. Three sets of two would be plenty.

    I also wanted to show you a picture of the entire tree and how I like to decorate the tree emphasizing jewel tones.  What do you think?

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Frosting and Fellowship

    Needless to say, I had fun fun fun at this year's "Frosting and Fellowship." My scrapbook-loving friend, Angie, invited me to attend the second annual cookie decorating extravaganza with her last week. Parking was a breeze as I was the only one registered for the event! You see, Angie and I tend to name our activities and Frosting and Fellowship (an offshoot of Glue and Gab) was really just a quiet afternoon of cookie decorating with Angie and her youngest son.

    After learning royal white icing techniques, Angie wanted to teach me the "pipe the exterior, brush on the interior" method of frosting cookies with royal white icing. My birthday gift in August was new piping bags, meringue powder and a rainbow of Wilton icing dyes - 12 colors to match every holiday whim.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Cookie Cutter Find

    What a find. All these cookie cutters for just 25 cents - no joke! I was at a trusty church rummage sale and I noticed that they had bagged antique cookie cutters into random sets. I saw this grouping and thought: a giant turkey (that would make a great crust cut out to bake on top of a pumpkin pie), Texas (where relatives live), a cow (my mom loves cows) - Sold!

    I'm sure by now you know about my cookie cutter collection - I am pushing 275! I love them and my collection keeps growing. I arrived home last week to find a padded envelope in my mailbox. My dear friend, Barb, found an antique "Santa" cookie cutter that she knew I had to have. Isn't that the nicest thing ever? Thank you, Barb. 276

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Cranberry Jello

    My go-to J-ello recipe at the holidays is the "cranberry-cream cheese mold" on the Kraft foods website. You can mold it in a Bundt pan for a decorative presentation (so pretty!) and it always goes quick on a holiday buffet. A tip: make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature when you beat it into the jello, otherwise the two ingredients won't blend as easily.

    Why am I showing you a box of cranberry Jell-O? Because they sell out this time of year. If you are at all thinking about giving this recipe a try, buy the Jell-O when you see it at the store. The next time you shop, it may be out of stock. Just a friendly tip from a Jell-O devotee.

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Advent By Candlelight

    Do you love it? My mom and I were hosting a table for Advent By Candlelight at our church one year and she came up with idea to spray pineapples gold and then insert pearl-tipped pins into the fruit in a pattern. We decorated 3 pineapples that way and used them as a centerpiece on our table. It was gorgeous!

    To me, the gilded pineapples came to represent the crowns of the three kings. If you want to try this project yourself, timing is everything. Fresh pineapples will last about a week once they are sprayed and decorated - be sure to pick pineapples that are firm, not soft. We kept our masterpieces in a box (out of reach of any animals) in our garage where it was cold until it was time to display them. We used gold spray paint and pearl-tipped pins straight pins from the craft store.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Advent Calendars

    Today is the day!  It is December 1st and it's time to open Door #1 on your advent calendar.  

    As an "Architect of Delight," I believe in looking for beauty in everyday moments.  Anticipation is a big part of enjoying a wonderful life...not only do you enjoy what you are looking forward to when it happens, you also savor the planning and preparation involved in getting there.

    Advent calendars are a perfect example of this.  They give you a little lift every day, inspiring you to enjoy all the days leading up to the glorious celebration of Christmas.

    Do you have an advent calendar?  I saw some cute ones at a local bookstore last night.  If you are willing to miss the first few days of "window opening," I encourage you to look at the beautiful selection available online at Blumchen.  

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Swedish Christmas Fair

    This gorgeous open face sandwich was my lunch last year at our local Swedish Christmas Fair.  The ladies took a piece of homemade bread and topped it with cold beet relish, Swedish meatballs, fresh parsley and cucumber.  Yum-yum-yum.

    Am I Swedish? Nope.  Have I ever had this kind of sandwich before?  No, I haven't, but I loved it.  This post is dedicated to encouraging you to explore your neighborhood and participate in the fun holiday events that are open to the community.  A tree lighting?  Gift show?  Historic Holiday Tea?  You never know who you will meet or what kind of interesting experiences you can have.  Make this holiday season special by attending a new event in your area.

    Check your local paper and look online for holiday events.   

    Saturday, November 26, 2011


    Holiday baking season is here and you will be amazed at the selection of sprinkles, sugars and jimmies at your local cake and candy supply store.  I was taken to this marvelous "sugarland" called Heinrich's Decorating Nook by my friend Allison.  She makes a run here every November to get the chocolate and peppermint crunch she needs for her holiday candy making.  When she mentioned her pilgrimage to me, I jumped at the chance to go with her and see this sugar supply store for myself.  Now I am a part of her annual trip and last week was my 5th year going with her.  We wander up and down every aisle and have a wonderful time imagining all the varieties of candy we could make.  In the end we always settle on our now-famous toffee.  December 18th is the big day this year and I am really looking forward to having her over for a fun day of toffee making.

    Want to find your own sugarland?  Google: "(Your Town), cake decorating" and you will see a list of options in your area.  You won't be disappointed - the selection is greater and the prices are better than any grocery (or craft) store where you might be tempted to shop for cake and candy decorations.  Have some fun!   

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Holiday Sweets

    If only I could buy my holiday sweets here!  I was out today shopping for mints and candies to set around in dishes around the house this season, and my mind kept going back to Fortnum Mason. They have the prettiest windows in London and this delightful display of sweets and treats had me swooning on the sidewalk.

    What do I really want for Christmas?  Fortnum Mason has music box cookie tin that plays "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and is filled with 3 kinds of cookies.  Doesn't that sound darling?

    I've always loved music boxes and for a while now I have wanted to take a cigar box and turn it into a music box.  Since I'm not going to London anytime soon, maybe this should be my first project in 2012.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Happy Thanksgiving! 

    Be sure to take lots of pictures today - friends and family, the big meal, the centerpiece.  Even if the photos never leave your computer (or phone), years from now you will look back on them with love.

    *this photograph is of a kooky gourd display at the Country Living Fair.  The class was about using nature to inspire your table displays.  I love the pale shades.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Cookie Walk

    I'm in charge of recruiting members of our congregation to bake cookies for our church's annual Cookie Walk.  Do you like my super cute sign up sheet?  I used photographs from my holiday magazines to make a mouth-watering display.

    Have you ever been to a Cookie Walk?  I think they are really fun.  A Cookie Walk is a fundraiser that sells homemade cookies during the holidays.  The cookies are displayed on trays and people stroll along “the walk” shopping for cookies.  A gloved committee member places the cookies as they are selected into the shopper’s box.  At the end of the walk, cookies are weighed and sold by the poundIt's genius! 

    The congregation comes together to bake their personal favorites (I love when someone tells me about their signature cookie); Shoppers get delicious homemade cookies during the holidays and the church makes a little money.  Win-win-win. 

    This is a photo of the cookies I made for last year's cookie walk (10 dozen, with the help of my niece and parents!).  They sold out quick!  This year I am making my famous gingerbread men.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Shining Silver

    Are you doing a little late-night silver polishing in anticipation of the holidays?  Years ago a friend talked me into using Nevr-Dull (a treated cotton wadding found in auto supply stores and Walmart) to polish my silver.  She swore by it and I fell under the spell of easy polishing. 

    It worked so well (and so fast!) that I put all fears of damaging my silver aside in lieu of getting the job done.  Since then, I have been relieved to hear many silver care experts touting the wonders of Nevr-Dull.  You can hear it for yourself from the restoration experts at Center Art Studio.

    If your silver is looking gold, do yourself a favor and get a tin of Nevr-Dull. 

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Sharing Recipes

    I want to direct you to some favorite recipes of mine...along the right side of the blog margin called "Anne Reeves' Favorite Recipes.

    The Chocolate Acorns, Pumpkin Cups, Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry Glogg (plus breakfast ideas: Baked Pecan French Toast and Baked Tomato Cups) are all perfect for entertaining this time of year. 

    My kitchen is your kitchen and I hope these recipes can enhance your holidays. xo Anne

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Chips and Ships

    The Pilgrims liked cheese dip, right?  In our version of American history they did.  Every year at Thanksgiving, I can't resist making a "Mayflower" for the appetizer table to hold our chips.

    I bought this boat basket by Longaberger back in 2002, and although it was expensive, I love it.  I use it in the Summer for parties at the cottage and every November it quickly converts to the great ship that carried the Pilgrims to our shores.  The link above is to an eBay page where I found this basket still for sale, if you are interested.

    As for constructing the Mayflower, I place an apple in the boat (there is a plastic basket liner that keeps things clean) and spear it with a wooden skewer.  I cut 2 paper sails (one smaller than the other) and make a flag for the top.  I also make a small paper "Mayflower" banner that I tie with string across the back - so cute!

    I think I saw the idea for making a Mayflower in a Martha Stewart issue of old, and I have been doing it ever since.  Just about any oblong shape tray or bowl could replicate a boat.  Come on, you know you want to. 

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Vintage Postcard Pillow

    I'm working on a project that I can use to liven up the living room this Winter, once the holiday decorations are all put away.  January can be so quiet and gray - I thought that this scene would add an air of mystery and elegance.  And when finished it should be about 6 x 9 inches - the perfect size to put on my lap and rest my book on when I'm reading. 

    I found this lovely vintage postcard at an antique store and I am going to print it on a special fabric sheet (8.5 x 11) by June Tailor and sew it into a small accent pillow for a chair.

    If I turns out as well as I think it will, I'll add it to my Etsy store in late January.  What do you think?

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Royal Wedding Mug

    My cousin Jennifer in Germany saved the day!  She remembers all too well my love of Princess Diana and when she realized that her husband was taking a trip to London just weeks before the Royal Wedding, she offered that he could pick up a souvenir for me. 

    The one thing I was desperate to have from William's wedding was something porcelain with the couple's photo and the wedding date.  I have mugs and plates from Diana's engagement, wedding and the birth of William, so I needed another piece of china to continue to my collection.

    I absolutely love it!  Her husband picked out the perfect mug and Jennifer carefully carried it back to the US on her latest trip!  I am so grateful for their thoughtfulness and care.  And included with the mug was a collection of newspaper clipping (in German) for me to keep, as well.  So nice!

    Jennifer and Michael - thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Belgian Lace Roll Basket

    Say that five times fast: Belgian Lace Roll Basket (ha!).  But I can't think of any other way to describe it.

    This beautiful addition to any holiday table was a gift from my husband when he was on assignment in Europe.  He went on a day trip to Bruges, Belgium and described it as "Chocolate shop, Lace shop, Hot Waffles - repeat."  He loved it, actually and climbed the 366 steps to view the city from the Belfry Tower.  

    Somewhere between the tower and a waffle, he wandered into a lace shop looking for a gift for me and saw the grandmother/shopkeeper who makes these collapsible roll baskets.  She was working on one when he entered the shop and bought one on the spot.  When not in use, the lace lays flat like a doily.  But tie the opposite ribbons together and a 3-dimensional structure appears before your eyes - each compartment perfect for a dinner roll.  Does he know me or what?

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Delight 2012 Calendar

    By popular demand, I have made a "Moments of Delight" calendar for 2012.  You can order it from Zazzle: 2012 Moments of Delight calendar and have it in time for holiday gift giving.  At $21, I hope it is the perfect price point for meaningful gift giving to teachers, friends and neighbors.  Please note that there is a discount for ordering multiple copies.

    These are some of the images in the calendar.  I've chosen these to put the spotlight on the delight in everyday life.

    I will feature my Paris calendar tomorrow.  You can find info in the blog sidebar, as well.