Monday, April 30, 2012

This post says it all, so I am republishing it, in case you missed it last year.  The only difference, is that I've traveled so much this January-April, I'm questioning if I've gotten enough done in my planning/writing phase...

I've been living a creative life long enough to recognize some patterns. My year is divided distinctly into three phases. I'm not sure if it is really right brain vs left, but it definitely uses different strengths at different times.

January - April: Analysis, Planning, Writing, Organizing

May-September: Creating, Designing, Photography

October-December: Tradition, Memories, Baking

I spend so much of Jan/Feb/March/April writing articles, blog posts, planning promotions and generally thinking. I brainstorm book ideas and talk a lot about the future, while I organize everything.

When the first blooms of May open, I am "shocked" into my creation phase, where everything is time sensitive. Each blossom (tulips, weeping cherry, marsh marigold, lilac, iris) will only be at peak for a few days (and if the sun is out, you'd better grab it!), the sunset is right now, the festival is this weekend only. So you see what I mean? I have to be camera-ready all the time to capture the ever-changing world of delight. I feel most creative during this time of year and bounce between making jewelry, taking pictures and sewing/taping/knitting/serging/threading/painting etc. It is so much fun.

And then by the Fall, I end up putting aside all business design ideas in lieu of the "what I can make for the house" ideas. I like to revive memories with a certain recipe. I like to fill the house with beautiful Christmas vignettes. I want to attend (and host!) the holiday parties and events that bring people together. I love it all.

And then it is suddenly after New Years, I'm exhausted and I settle down to think, write and reflect.

Does your year have a distinct pattern? As I look out the window, the roses are telling me that I am about to embark on my creative phase. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Magazine bags

(finished DELIGHT totes in a gallery)

This is the Ana's DELIGHT cover that I've chosen for my trip this weekend.  I've printed the cover, sealed it in plastic and all I need to do now is build it into a day bag.  What do you think? 

The forecast for Williamsburg, Virginia (I'm finally going!) is hot and humid.  I have a new navy skirt that should look cute and help me beat the heat.  I've got pictures to take and I won't be deterred by the weather!  I promise to tell you all about it next week.

So with a navy outfit planned, I need a DELIGHT tote (to carry as a purse) that would coordinate.  That's what I like so much about designing magazine bags - the bag is durable (tape & plastic), the magazine is so much fun to look at (way better than leather) and I get to decide that blue-rimmed dishes in Paris "match" a navy outfit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm a rosarian

It's official.  I'm a rosarian!  I went to a lecture on roses at Telly's Greenhouse in Troy and their resident rose expert let us in on a secret.  Anyone who grows more than one rose can be called a rosarian!  One online definition is even more generous, you need only be fond of roses to earn the title. 

In reality, I probably actually am what you would imagine a rosarian to be.  I've had a rose garden for almost twenty years and I currently have 18 rose bushes in my garden getting ready to put on a show in June.  I've even travelled to "the mothership."  I went on a pilgrimage to David Austin's Shropshire Rose Garden and Nursery in northern England.  Remember?

I can't help it! Even though roses require quite a bit of care, in my book, no flower gives me more delight.  I love their magnificent colors, shapes and scents.  And I particularly love the abundance of blooms I get all Summer from each plant.

Are you a rosarian?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am very proud!  Since my book, Paris: Delight in the City of Light was featured in the Michigan State Alumni magazine, my sales on Amazon have soared and I have received a host of delightful reviews.  This one was posted by a customer yesterday and I just had to share:

"It's been 10 years since we've honeymooned in Paris and this softcover travelogue by Anne Reeves reminds us of the precious and personal memories that make a visit to the City of Lights so special. Most travel guides provide the standard information and photos of famous sites (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, bridges over Seine etc). While these sites should certainly be on everyone's itinerary, this book captures the sublime moments that stick with you over the years - window displays of pastries, baubles or ribbons, rooftop panoramas from the Sacre Coeur, a whimsical pink cottage off the Champ Elysees, the perfect brunch laid out on your courtyard table, the endless offerings of the perfect dessert. The missing narrative of the opening scenes in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, this book fills a unique niche you won't find elsewhere.
Leafing through Paris-Delight in the City of Light is like spending the afternoon on the couch with your best friend, and being treated to her photos, tidbits and tales of her recent trip to Paris. Each page has a bright photos and personal captions, sure to trigger memories in those who have visited, and likely spurring a motivation to travel for those who have not. A perk of website addresses for the hotels, haberdasheries and pastry shops is appreciated and will be put to use. Leave the heavy lifting of travel planning to a Rick Steves or Michelin guide; pack this lightweight coffee table book in your carry-on to guide you to the more subtle delights of Paris."  - J.W. on Amazon

Thank you, J.W.!  You are very kind.

photo: statue of Mary Stuart/Mary Queen of Scots by par Jean-Jacques Feuchère in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shell Frame with Vintage Photograph

So sweet!  I couldn't be happier with how my shell-covered frame turned out.  I had seen some "diamond" encrusted frames with real shell accents once when I was in Florida and I wanted to try my hand at this kind of embellishing.

I bought a simple antiqued frame at Homegoods and used a strong clear-drying glue (that works with metal) to glue an edge of clear round plastic rhinestone trim (available by the yard at Joann Fabric). 

Then I arranged different shells and pearls (you can buy a bag of small shells at Michaels craft store, as well as Joann Fabric) along the bottom of the glass on the frame, overlapping them until I liked the effect.  Then I glued them in place.  A puffy sand dollar, a pink gem and a pearl finished the look in the upper right corner. 

Doesn't this make the perfect frame for a vintage wedding photo?  I think that this would make a great anniversary present.  A few simple steps adds a touch of delight.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I can hardly wait for my flowers to bloom.  I mean it, it has been a l-o-n-g time since I could go out to the garden and clip flowers for a spur of the moment bouquet like this and I miss it!  A lot.

The early surge of warm weather caused the flowering trees to bloom in March and encouraged most of the vegetation to be ahead of schedule.  I was just on the patio surveying the roses (you see my yellow "Graham Thomas" roses above, punctuated by a few orange nasturtiums) and my rose garden is in full leaf.
On Thursday night I am going to a lecture on roses at a local nursery and I am hoping to find out their opinion on how to proceed this Spring.  Should I start my monthly fertilizing early?  What about my fish spray and chemical bug repellent treatment?  I want to have another successful season of roses, so I am asking the professionals.  I also see tomorrow night as a way to appease my restless spirit.  I brought back lots of gorgeous soda pop cans from Hawaii and I want to make beautiful arrangements to show you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Goldfinch Feeder

My new bird feeder is worth it's weight in gold, if you'll pardon the pun.  It is specifically for goldfinch and for a mere $5 (complete with nyjer seed!), it is my best purchase in a long time.  I can sit in my office working away on my next book (yea!) and see these super sweet birds enjoying lunch.  
My parents gave me a goldfinch sack feeder a few years ago (which I hung in this same dogwood tree) and that is how I came to realize how much I enjoy birdwatching. The sack, however, was too fragile for the area I hang it.  The squirrels could jump/dangle and tear it open easily.  This plastic tube feeder hasn't been touched by the squirrels at all.  And it is not a "one time use" feeder.  I am happy to report that you can pull the top off and refill as needed.  I'll track down the brand (I bought it at Meijers, our local grocery superstore) and list it here soon.
Have you ever hung a goldfinch feeder?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chrenka Apiaries make Heavenly Honey

Oh the joy of having a friend in the honey business.  Every Fall I get a glorious pint of liquid gold delivered to my doorstep;  I am one lucky girl.

My friend, Tracy, and her husband, Joe, have been dabbling in bee keeping for a few years now and I am convinced that the secret to their superior honey is their exceptional garden.  You see, the flavor of honey is determined by the flowers that the bees pollinate.  Clover field nearby?  You're likely to get clover honey. 

At Tracy's house, the bees have their pick of an extensive vegetable and flower garden and every year, Tracy and Joe harvest a batch of delicious honey that they call "Sweetness & Light." 

It sells out fast, so I have learned to reserve a pint early.  Next year I am going to see if she'll let me order 3 pints.  There is only so much to go around and I don't want to be piggy.  But I have to ration her honey and more would be welcome! 

Did you notice the cherry wood honey dipper?  Joe is a gifted craftsman and this year he decided to offer his handmade honey dippers for sale too.  Such a smart addition to the business, and they are beautiful too.  If my friends ever create a website and start doing mail order, I'll be sure to post a link here. 

You heard it here first, "Sweetness & Light" by Chrenka Apiaries.  Liquid delight.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Greenhouse Art Event

I like to go to events that make sense.  A friend invited me to tag along with her to an "artist spotlight" that was being held at a local garden center, Goldner Walsh. Since garden centers aren't open in the evening, the open spaces and aisles of plants become and interesting venue to showcase paintings, stroll with a glass of wine and chat.  

Standing among the plants and the fresh scent of dirt, you can't help but notice the correlation between the gardener's world and the artist's.  The gardeners design, the plants are their paint and the greenhouse is the gallery.  So naturally, another kind of art (actual paintings) could be successfully displayed with the ultimate backdrop - fresh green leaves.  It really was a lovely setting.

The art itself didn't speak to me, so I won't highlight it here, but a little gem did stand out, the sweets caterer, Little Dove Bakeshop.  The owner, Bethany Young, was onsite and it was fun to talk to her about the "hint of cinnamon" in her brownies and how she "steeps the lavender" to enhance her mini lemon lavender tarts.  Her treats were devoured and I think she has a bright future.  Her plans include opening a bakery in Detroit and I wish her the best of luck. 

I took this photo of a tabletop collection of topiary trees (very reasonably priced at $20-25) and it made me want to sign up for one of their classes.  Have you ever tried to train a topiary?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Duct Tape Wristlets

"Do you think you could do a craft with the girls?"  That kind of question is music to my ears.  I said "yes" before she got to the end of the sentence.     
When I planned our trip to Florida for Easter vacation, part of my motivation was to be able to spend time with two of my cousins and their families.  We rarely get to see each other in Michigan, but since our parents are near each other in Florida, we vacation in the same area.  When they told me the dates of their school break, it was easy to sync our trip with theirs.
We had cookouts together, spent time at the pool and even bumped into each other at TJ Maxx.  Throughout the week, six girls (age 12-16) and I talked about crafting - materials, colors and when we would have time to make something.

As a seasoned crafter, I considered their age, skill set and wish list to come up with a no-sew, no-fail project.  I've worked with duct tape for years making my Delight Totes and I knew that if I used the Duck Brand Duck Tape sheets and rolls, a rotary cutter, self-healing mat and some sticky velcro (for the closure), we could make simple but stylish wristlets in no time.
While I helped each girl make her wristlet, the others patiently strung beads onto wire to make butterfly/flower hair charms to attach to bobby pins.  By the end of the night, each girl had two treasures: a hair ornament and a super cute purse.  We spent 2 hours working together and, for me, it was the highlight of the trip! have a bunch of girls who want to learn how to make things. Love it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Aren't these wave and sand patterns beautiful?  Somehow the waves and the pull of the current made equal scallops all the way down the beach.  This is the type of natural phenomenon that inspires designers to add a scallop to their collection, I'm sure of it.
This is a larger view from the same morning that I wanted to share with you.  As the last building before the MacArthur Beach State Park, the view goes on for miles.  There is a pelican rookery straight ahead and it is wonderful to see groups of pelicans flying out in the morning and home again around 5pm after a big day of fishing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Have you heard of the phrase, "Bloom where you're planted?"  Well, I found an example!  This pure white impatient has somehow seeded itself, grown and bloomed next to a post on the edge of a parking garage in Florida.
If this isn't a symbol of hope, I don't know what is.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Feeling Welcome

A piece of cake (coffee cake!) and cute dishes were all it took to make me feel special as I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle last week.  You see my parents' place in Florida was full of relatives over Easter vacation and my aunt offered to have us stay with her. 
Each night we tip-toed away from the family after watching Dancing With The Stars or American Idol (so much fun to watch with a big group!) and went up to her condo to sleep.  And each morning we were greeted with the smell of coffee brewing and an arrangement of pretty mugs and dishes for our breakfast.

She'd plate some scones or a coffee cake ring and the 3 of us (my husband, aunt and I) would have breakfast together out on her balcony overlooking the ocean.  It was a relaxing way to start each day and it became an unexpected bonus to a week already full of activities.
A cute mug and ocean air - that is hospitality.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pizza Al Fresco in Palm Beach

Want to try lunching like a celebrity?  Apparently, all the cool kids eat pizza at Pizza Al fresco just off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.  And on this particular day, we happened to pass Ethel Kennedy on the sidewalk not far from here (she looked great!), so you may indeed see some famous faces while you're having lunch.

Stroll the walkways that connect the shops and art galleries on Worth Avenue, admire the draping bougainvillea, photograph a few statues and then, when you've worked up an appetite, grab a table and relax over a small green salad and a Fresh Tomato and Basil pizza - yum. 

What I love about this place is that you can eat a simple rustic pizza in a lovely outdoor setting.  No need for a million-dollar lunch that the caliber of shops would imply, just a simple meal in a quiet courtyard.  And Palm Beach regulars must agree, every time I drop in for lunch the courtyard is full.  If you follow my lead, plan on lunching a little early to get a table. Bon Appetit!      

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tools of the Trade

As another Easter vacation draws to a close, my husband and I went to the post office today to mail home a box of things that won't fit in my suitcase.  When the postmistress got to the questions about the contents of the box ("Does it contain anything liquid, hazardous, perishable..."), I answered no and told her it was just clothes and odd things.

Then I started naming the contents of the box to my husband because it was so funny.  "Lamb-shaped cake pans, electric hand mixer, edible luster dust, knitting needles, beads, duct tape, self-healing know, my Tools of the Trade."  Isn't that funny?  I wonder how many other girls brought crafts and baking supplies with them on their vacation.

I am heading home and I will be there for a nice long stretch.  I am looking forward to working in my garden, trying new recipes and making custom touches for my home.  There is a lot of Delight on the horizon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Palm Beach-style Cheesecake

You've heard of New York-Style Cheesecake, right?  Well, I call this cheesecake, "Palm Beach-Style" because of the shells!  Don't you love it?

I worked backwards on this one.  I wanted a dessert to highlight the realistic look of the shells, so I needed something that I could pile graham cracker crumbs on to look like sand.  Cheesecake was the the natural choice! 

It all started when I wanted to make white chocolate shells, so I visited a cake and candy supply store in Florida and bought several different shell molds

My niece and nephew were visiting Florida this week too and together we molded the white chocolate discs into shells (melt chocolate discs in microwave, pour into molds, tap on counter repeatedly to allow bubbles trapped in chocolate to rise and pop, harden for 5 minutes in freezer, unmold - it's that easy!).

Then I decided that I wanted to try giving them a soft color sheen with edible pearl dust.  The shells shown here are made using Bronze, Gold, Pink and Lilac pearl dust.  Simply use a food-safe paint brush and brush on the edible dust - it is gorgeous and now I want to luster everything!

The cheesecake is just cheesecake - I used a Martha Stewart Everyday Food app to find a recipe on my phone so that we could bake on vacation.  It was  a classic recipe, so feel free to use your favorite cheesecake recipe.

It turned it out better than I could have imagined!  This is how we do cheesecake Palm Beach-Style!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bunnies on Parade

Happy Easter!  I found some bunnies on parade at Payard Patisserie in Las Vegas and I've been saving this picture to show you on Easter morning.  I hope the Easter bunny has filled your basket with sweet treasures.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Turtle Tracks

Okay, it's a little hard to see, but I'll tell you what to look for.  Coming up from the water to the beach (in the white sand) are tire-like tracks in the shape of a "U." 
Farther up toward the dune, directly up from the tracks in a large mound in the shadows.  It is a mound of sand in the lower left corner of the picture.  That, my friend, is a turtle nest.  And if I identified it correctly by the tracks, it is a Loggerhead Turtle nest.  So neat!

Turtles in this area make their way up out of the water to the edge of the dunes (tracks one way), dig a hole in the sand and lay their eggs.  Then they mound up the sand and make their way back to the sea (the return arc of tracks).  When the baby turtles hatch (after 55 to 70 days) they climb out of the hole under the mound and work their way to the ocean to swim and live their lives. 
I've never seen a turtle nest before and was happy that I could take a picture to show you.  We even called the Marine Center up the beach to notify them of the nest.  Apparently they log the location of nests and use it to monitor turtle statistics etc.  Just days later all signs of this nest were gone to the naked eye.  The tide washes away the tracks and makes the mound less visible.  But that's okay, the turtle eggs are buried far below in a hole.  Science! 

Do you remember when I visited the Loggerhead Marine Center last year and meet Ryker

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cherry Blossom Centennial Stamps

I had to have them! I stopped by the post office to mail a package and swooned over these beautiful "forever stamps" commemorating the 100th anniversary of our national's capital receiving a gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the city of Tokyo.

The design features a beautiful wide scene (set across 2 stamps) of cherry trees in full bloom along the Tidal Basin, featuring the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial.

When I saw the promotional poster (and made a little commotion about how pretty they were) I said to the clerk, "Tell me you still have these!"

She smiled and said that she only had two sheets left. A man's voice said behind me, "Not anymore...she's buying one and so am I."

The gentleman behind me in line said that my comments had "sold him" on a sheet. How cute.

Have you seen the Cherry Blossom Centennial Stamps? (

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


You can really see in this picture the many stages of shells as they break down into sand.

Such an endless mix of shapes and seaside colors, each section is a pretty as the next- I just pointed my camera down and this is what I got.

My favorite is the cream-to-blue shell in the center. Looks a bit like my family room, don't you think? (

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I've got stars in my eyes!  I have been looking forward to making ocean-themed candy ever since I saw a display of white chocolate shells in the local market last year.  I tracked down a cake and candy supply store while I was in Florida last year, bought several different chocolate molds and had my first success this week.  Peanut Butter Starfish!

I felt like a genius when I realized that the Wilton peanut butter candy melts would be the perfect color to make realistic starfish!  I just had to melt the discs in the microwave, pour them into the molds and wait for them to set in the freezer.  Voila!  They are perfect, if I do say so myself.

I think Jacques Cousteau would be proud.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Beach Glass

How about this for a successful beach walk?  16 pieces of sea glass and two unusual shells bits.  My dad, husband and I spent an hour or so on the beach this morning.  The waves were particularly calm and the water was so warm.  

I can see the charm bracelet now, jingling and jangling on my wrist.  I can't wait!  My friend has a special drill bit that will make holes in glass.  We had lots of fun drilling sea glass and shells in Hawaii and I think it's time to find out the details and see if I can get an adapter to fit my husband's Dremel drill.

Ooh la la...this is going to be fun!