Thursday, May 31, 2012

Williamsburg: Window Back in Time

Use your imagination and pretend that you are Thomas Jefferson looking out of this very window, contemplating the challenges of governing Virginia in 1780.  Jefferson lived right here in the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg.

Okay, it is not the "very" window - it had to be rebuilt after a fire, but it is the same window in the exactly the same place, based on the architectural plans they found.  That's good enough for me!  I love the bright green gardens set against the ornately carved window molding.  Look at how the light from outside adds a soft glow.  Just gorgeous! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

City Series, Williamsburg: Governor's Palace

Behold the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.  I have always wanted to visit historic Williamsburg and this year I finally had my chance.  We were invited to visit our friends, Kerry and Paul, in Richmond, Virginia.  Knowing me so well, Kerry built a day trip to Williamsburg into our weekend together.  Yea!

I've been drawn to the design/style/mood of Williamsburg for years and can't remember a time I didn't pour over the Williamsburg Marketplace catalog admiring all of the formal decorating pieces, brass trivets and fresh fruit decorations (You can download fruit cone instructions here).

My house is brick and a few years ago I even bought an over-the-door ornament that is a large half circle of wood that comes studded with nails.  When the mood strikes, I have a Colonial-inspired Christmas and cover the base with a fresh pineapple surrounded by apples and lemons hanging over my front door.  It looks beautiful, but I must admit that sometimes my guests get drops of juice in their hair as they cross the thresh hold.  How did they prevent that in Colonial times?   Even so, I love it and I decorate the arch over the front door that way every few years.

We decided to wait in line to see the Governor's Palace and had a wonderful experience taking a 30 minute group tour.  A costumed docent narrated the life and times of the house and really brought "an afternoon at the palace" to life.  You can read all about the palace in a wonderful spotlight here.  Afterward we wandered the garden, admiring the sculpted hedges and marvelous "living" pergola constructed over a path from a double row of trees.  I wish I could identify the tree from the leaf! Can you?

The front entry hall is loaded with weapons as show of military strength.  
A dreamy white bed in the Governor's Palace.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Traverse City: Iris Farm

Sometimes finding delight is as simple as being ready to experience a moment when it presents itself. 
When we talked about making plans for our weekend up north for Memorial Day, we acknowledged that a lot depended on whether or not "the iris were in bloom."  For 2 weeks a year, this magnificent field is open to the public and the flowering stalks are available for sale.  The weather, temperature and rain all play a factor in the timing, but it is generally in late May.  After our unpredictable Spring, I wasn't sure what the plants would be doing.
My Mom and I visit the iris farm every time my schedule and the iris sync up.  Eureka! It was another banner weekend!  It was 90 degrees (unheard of! Today it is back to 69) and there were 800 colors of German iris in bloom!  We walked up and down the rows with an open basket and scissors (provided when you check in) and we had an absolute field day (sorry, I couldn't resist) choosing which blooms to pick for our bouquet.  Each stalk is $1 and has many blooms each. 

This was one of my favorites and it is called Toasted Watermelon. You can called the farm at (231) 947-9040 to reserve a plant of your own, I believe people commit to buying a plant now and then they are available to customers in the Fall.  What fun!

One of our arrangements!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Iris Farm

Life as Art. I have scores of gorgeous photos from my trip to the iris farm today, but I am highlighting this one because it looks so much like a painting.

It was a lovely day to walk the fields and now I'm off to make a rhubarb crisp and start bar-b-queuing chicken for our Memorial Day dinner. Have a wonderful Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


It was a great day when I got my Husqvarna Viking sewing/embroidery machine.  I have used it continually for sewing, but as I look back over these last 8 years, I realized that I have mostly used the machine embroidery feature for baby gifts.  It's time for me to have some personalized things!

So this week I've gone on a monogramming bender and made myself 2 sets of AHR napkins, 2 "anne" dishtowels and I put a fancy "R" on an antique fingertip towel for the powder room.  What do you think?

I will have to rotate my new masterpieces so that you don't see an "R" in every room!  Have you ever noticed a magazine article like that, where the home owner loves monograms and you can spot one in each picture - overkill!

I hereby promise to display a reasonable number of initials.        

Friday, May 25, 2012

Perfect Peony Bouquet

My foyer has never looked so pretty.  After losing my small hedge of peonies to a flood (broken soaker hose) last year, I am starting over (sniff) and have bought 3 peony plants and planted them on the other side of the house, just to be safe.

The established plants had 2 buds each and I am reaping the rewards the week.  Fringed with lilacs, they look gorgeous in my pink glass vase.  How did I have such a perfect pink vase?  Simple, last Summer I painted the outside of an empty glass jar (from either spaghetti sauce or canned peaches, I can't tell) with craft paint.  Once it is dry, it looks like old-fashioned pink glass and I love it.

I am happiest when I can cut flowers and arrange a bouquet for the house.  Have you started bringing flowers indoors yet?  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sowing Seeds

I am giving seeds a shot.  I love the instant gratification of buying plants with buds, but in the gray days of March, I couldn't resist these pretty seed packages.

I wasn't interested in the grand production of starting them indoors, so I waited until the instructions said it was okay to plant them outdoors and and am hopeful that I will have some nice new additions to my cutting garden in a few weeks.

Have you had luck with seeds growing directly in the soil?  My seed experience is really limited to morning glory vines (and a fun heirloom vegetable garden last year with the Beekman 1802 Seeds) but I have never tried it with flowers.  Is my growing season long enough in Michigan?  Here's hoping! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Antique Chocolate Molds

Have you ever seen such a display?  I first saw Dad's Follies in person at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market a few years ago, but I had been well aware of their chocolate molds for years because of articles about their magnificent collection in various shelter magazines.

The company has amassed a selection of over 2,500 antique chocolate molds over the last 35 years and to be able to see this collection in person is a bit overwhelming.  All I could think of was the people behind the molds - those that used them in their heyday to make chocolates for shops, restaurants and to spoil their friends and family.  What a neat skill to have - chocolatier.
I was really happy that Dad's Follies still exhibits at the Ann Arbor Antiques Fair (only on certain months, so check the schedule).  I was going to spend the morning at the fair with my friend, Angie, and I wanted her to see this amazing display for herself.  She loved it too and even found a few treasures for herself.

While I am apt to try molding a chocolate rabbit (I love the challenge of making something cute), my dad is apt to bring one home from the candy store!  Remember this one?  If it's Easter, my dad is on the lookout for a giant chocolate rabbit.  He just can't help himself - and I love it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lily of the Valley

Code Name: LOTV

Every year, my best friend gets me my Lily of the Valley fix by cutting me a huge bouquet from her backyard.  She also indudes a companion bouquet for my mom.  Isn't she the best?

I thought that you would think it was funny that she texted me a message about LOTV.  I knew instantly what she was talking about.  This is texting for gardeners.  Ha! 

I didn't make it to her house this year in time to get the blooms at their peak.  Remember my photo among the blooms?  And what about this magnificent bouquet?  I wanted to renew my vows on the spot.

Lily of the Valley is said to mean "You will find happiness" and I hope, in this post, you did.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Welcome to the World

A mother robin has made her nest in the crook of the downspout in my backyard. She loves the afternoon sun and has been congratulating herself on picking such a great spot.  I love it too, of course, and am outside a lot.
You can see that I have a long backyard and have a path between the patio and deck.  Well, Mama Robin is in the area between and would panic and fly away whenever I crossed.  I felt terrible about this, and in an effort to apologize, I found myself saying, "I'm so sorry, but I really have to water the plants etc," as I walked across.

You know what?  I worked.  Whenever I talk to her and tell her my plans before I do it (trim the roses, move a chair), she's okay with it and stays put.  I kid you not.  This has been a great relief to me, as I don't want to disturb her, but I do want to get the garden ready for Summer.  (Look how big my roses are getting - and I have buds too!)
And yesterday the little guys arrived!  I noticed a lot of flying back and forth, so I looked through the family room window and caught a glimpse of "Junior" having dinner.  I saw a flurry of beaks just before this, so I think there might be 3 baby birds in there.  Happy Mother's Day, indeed!

***An update
"The kids" flew the nest on June 2.  I named them: Reggie, Bryce and Steve, I don't know why.  This was the group shot I got just before the first bird tried flying, see the row of 3 beaks? Adorable.
Below is Reggie on our deck just minutes after we saw him fly from the nest.
 Go Reggie Go!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mind's Eye

Today's post is to encourage you to take pictures.  Your mind's eye can do a great job recalling your grandmother's kitchen, but it could always use a little help "bringing to life" smaller moments.

When I was in London (swirling from jet lag), my husband and I went to Fortnum & Mason for a little shopping and dinner.  My rationale was that we were too tired for a formal meal, but that we couldn't fail heading over to the Piccadilly Circus area to shop at Fortnum & Mason and have dinner in one of their many dining rooms.  I was right!  Dinner was delish and the store was full of everything I love - dishes, stationary, linens. 

And on the first floor, among the displays of tea, jams and biscuits, was a large candy counter.  This display (behind glass) of homemade marshmallows made my mouth water.  And lucky thing for me, they had samples! 

I tried a raspberry marshmallow (yum!), shown on the pedestal stand in the back center of this photo.  It was delicious and I remember it all the more because I took this picture as it was melting in my mouth.  Whether you are sampling candy in a new city or sharing a cupcake with an old friend - take a picture.  The beauty of the moment will be with you forever.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cookie Spoons

I have a new friend who loves tea, tea sandwiches and tea parties and we've been getting to know each other over tea-for-two.  We each make some favorite recipes and while away the afternoon talking and eating sandwiches, scones and sweets.

I have really enjoyed our time together and love the fact that it gives me an occasion to try out some new things.  For example, I have had a really neat "cookie spoon mold" for over a year now and I've never used it!  It is a white bake-able plastic that you fill with cookie dough and bake.  Each tray makes 4 spoons at a time.  Aren't they cute?!  I used the shortbread-like recipe that came with the mold to ensure that the spoons were sturdy enough to place on a saucer and not break.  Perfection!  And they are delicious too.

Want to make your own cookie spoons?  My suggestion is to buy two molds, so that you can have 8 cookie spoons baking in the oven at once.  And at around $2 a mold, a set can fit in most budgets.  Have fun!      

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Shops at Target

You know that I like to keep my eye on Target and their designer spotlights.  I am incredible happy with my pieces from Missoni (striped tray, 3-piece tray and glass votives) and John Derian.

So when I heard about a series called "The Shops" at Target, I was intrigued.  The shop that spoke to me was Privet House, which is described as a Connecticut-based shop that's "home to curiosities, antiques and decor with soul and patina."  I liked the overall look of the collection, but only had-to-have one thing.  These heavy linen place mats.  They work perfectly with my woven glassware and pitcher.  And I think they have a lovely grounding effect to my light-as-air aqua and white kitchen.

Have you checked out The Shops at Target?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fairy Doors

Lately I've noticed a growing fascination with fairies, as well as the teeny tiny items you can buy to make them feel welcome.  The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan has 7 fairy doors (small almost dollhouse-size doors that replicate the building's architecture) that are on the outside of houses and storefronts and can be easily admired by citizens and shoppers.  Upon researching this post, I realized that there is a fairy door at Sweetwaters Cafe, my favorite spot for hot ginger tea!  I am going to Ann Arbor next Tuesday and I will be on the lookout for their fairy door.  I have to admit, it's kind of fun.

I wouldn't go so far as to have a fairy door on my house, but I can easily see myself being bewitched by a tiny bench or table and chairs for my garden.  A little something whimsical tucked between the herbs.  Do you think anyone would notice?

The photo above, taken last year at Wiegand's Nursery, shows an open door leading the way into the world of garden fairies.  I thought the presentation was charming and that you would love to see this vignette.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sunset Surfer

When I travel, I often make a mental list of things I want to photograph.  And they are never something simple like "sunset" or "hibiscus."  When I left for Hawaii, I actually had in my mind that I wanted to photograph the silhouette of a surfer heading out to surf.

Tah-dah!  Like an ant with a potato chip, this guy was carrying his board out to sea.  The combination of the mist coming off the surf and the sun starting to set was pure magic.  I couldn't have made it up better myself.

Oahu's north shore lived up to my expectations.  Sand, Surf...and Silhouettes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Secret Garden

I read The Secret Garden when I was about eleven years old.  I loved the idea of a neglected garden coming to life.  When I was reading, I felt like I was tending the garden with the children and seeing the results.  I couldn't think of anything lovelier than quiet refuge populated by birds and blooms.  If you know a little girl in this age range, I recommend this inspiring book!

When I was in England, staying near Gloucestershire, Dan and I were invited to take a peek at the grounds of the Manor House associated with the Frampton Court Estate, where we were staying.  While we were walking around the expansive gardens, the owner came out and welcomed us onto his property.  I thought that we might be intruding, but he was happy to show us around and we found that we had so much in common.  When he heard that we watched "Foyle's War" on DVD in America, he knew we were kindred spirits.

This is the arched brick doorway into his secret garden.  Isn't it lovely!  There was a hitch in my breath when I came around the corner and saw it.  An entrance to a garden that comes straight out of my imagination.     

Saturday, May 12, 2012

5 Year Blog-iversary

This week marks my 5 year blog-iversary!  I started with the idea of providing beautiful and inspiring content on a daily basis and next week will mark my 1,500th post!  

I find delight all over my life - in cooking, travel, photography, gardening, crafting and I love to show you what I'm working on and what I'm thinking about and hope that it inspires you to do the same.

"May you always find delight." - Anne Reeves

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cute Coffeecake

"Never underestimate the power of cute." - Anne Reeves

If you are going to take the time to make a coffeecake, shouldn't it look this good?  I turned a box mix of coffeecake into this, simply by baking the batter in a pretty pan.  My only improvement was adding dried cherries and pecan halves to the streusel layer.  The pan is a French silicone "Sunflower" mold by Flexipan.
By drizzling on a simple powered sugar/hot water glaze (a tablespoon of hot water to a cup of powdered sugar), my quick and easy coffeecake starts to look even more professional.  A hot pink glass cake stand doesn't hurt either.  Never underestimate the power of cute.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Painting Lake Lucerne

One of my favorite memories from a trip I took with my parents to Switzerland a few years ago, was painting with my mom on the edge of Lake Luzerne.  We brought my travel paint set and some watercolor postcards along on our trip and found a quiet afternoon to sit at a table drinking tea and painting.  It was relaxing and so much fun.  A view like this needs to be savoured and painting is the perfect activity to slow you down and help you to really "see."

We were staying at the Hotel Central Am See and since it was a cool day, we had the patio all to ourselves.  I painted this view above, and my mom painted the scenery from her perspective. 

Not only do I recommend painting a "postcard" while you are on a trip, but be sure to photograph your painting alongside your inspiration.  It will help cement the memory and can "put you right back there" any time you want.

My task for this week?  Track down my little painting and frame it.  Art is meant to be displayed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rummage Sale

I have a weakness for church rummage sales, but after finding things like these "milk glass" blue dinner plates, can you blame me?  The minute I saw them, I knew that they would be perfect to highlight my antique Chelsea dishes.  I was able to get a set of four and they are on my kitchen table, looking just like the photo, as we speak.

I also found an electric warming tray for entertaining (my secret to a successful brunch is keeping the breakfast strata and french toast casserole hot!) for $3.  I think I am going to take this one up to the cottage to use for all of our Fourth of July festivities.

If the mood strikes, see if you can find a church rummage sale in your area.  You never know what treasures you'll find, and with DIY fever going around, you can breathe new life into many items with just a coat of paint.  My last "find" was a large round basket with handles for $1.  I know will look brand new with a shot of spray paint.  I'm just not sure what color to paint it or where I will put it, but there's time!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Decorating with Flowers

My favorite time of year!  I can finally pick something and bring it in the house to decorate.  This is the baker's rack in my foyer, loaded with my collection of antique Chelsea china.  I've been collecting for a few years now and this year I hope to finally find the illusive teapot.  Can't have a tea party without a teapot!

For this week's vignette, I've taken two of my small flat disc vases from CB2 (a modern division of Crate and Barrel) and put one bloom from my clematis vine in each vase.  I love how this looks - both dreamy and vibrant.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Super Cute Pens

I had a revelation the other day, after I gave away one of these darling pens to my Mom.  I had seen these pens (sold in sets of two) Target (in the bins near the front) and bought myself a set for $1. 

I happened to give one to my Mom, telling her "this is for your purse" and she loved it.  So it occurred to me, this is fun.  I want to give these pens away.  I went back to the store and bought five more sets. 

Then I gave a green one to my sister-in-law.  And an orange one to my friend in Virginia when I was at her house.  I'm on a roll!

And I was right.  It is really fun to "delight" a friend with a little something super cute for no reason.  And everyone likes to have a pretty pen in their purse. 

So how about it.  Are you considering giving a little something away?  A tin of mints?  A brand new sunblock lip balm? I bet you can think of something fun to share.  Let me know!  And remember, your goal is to give a moment of delight. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

An Adventure...

I'm on a trip to Virginia, including a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. I'll blog all about it on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Emma Bridgewater in the USA

"Where was that!?!," my mom asked me emphatically.  I had brought my iPad with me to her house and was catching her up on my travel photos from this Winter when she saw this display of Emma Bridgewater.

When I was doing my City Series on Houston, I blogged about the incredible shop, British Isles,  but I didn't get a chance to expound on their selection of Emma Bridgewater dishes.  The choices you have a staggering and it is the only store (in America) where I have seen more than a handful of pieces available for sale. 

Remember when I visited the ACTUAL Emma Bridgewater shop in England?  I have the 2 mugs in Black Toast, with plates to match.  When I'm ready for a teapot and sugar/creamer, this is where I coming!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bellocq Tea Atelier

I knew you'd want to see this.  A tea store within a design store.  It makes perfect sense, doesn't it?  If you are pulling together furniture, fabrics and art to create the perfect space to entertain in, you'll want something lovely to serve, right?

This is the Bellocq Tea Atelier within the Restoration Hardware Gallery at Highland Village in Houston.  I love how the dramatic display on the landing of the main staircase and I think that the distinctive yellow tins would look beautiful on a tea tray when entertaining.

A sample of each tea is displayed near it's container, a bit like a tasting table.  Though theses samples are there to showcase the quality of the loose tea and encourage to customers to experience the scent of the many complex combinations.  I loved the display as well as the experience of exploring the many combinations through scent.  I can attest that the tea leaves and floral/citrus additions are of the highest quality.  Can tea be gorgeous? Yes.   

I was in a rush, but I do remember liking No. 1 Bellocq Breakfast the best.  The next time I am in town, that tin is mine!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day with Laduree

Happy May Day!  In France, May 1st is the only day that anyone can sell lily of the valley bouquets on the streets of Paris without taxation. Lots of enterprising people take to the streets and offer sweet smelling arrangements to passers by.  All day you will see men, women and children carrying little bunches of muguet du bois around the city.  The custom is to give a bouquet as a sign of appreciation or love.  It would truly be a "moment of delight" to receive a bouquet from someone, don't you think?

When I was in Paris on May Day one year, I took this photograph of the May Day-inspired window at Laduree.  You can see bunches of lily of the valley, and if you look closely, you'll see that the packaging also highlights this bloom.  It must have been a limited edition candle or home fragrance.  I just love the mint and lavender packaging and their signature macaron "trees."

I wish you a happy and flower-filled May Day!