Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Box of Chocolates?

Life is like a box of...lip gloss?  My friend Corinne swooned a little when she found this "box of chocolates" lip gloss by Two's Company and then presented me with these sweet treats just because

Each bon bon is nestled in a paper wrapper and has a different chocolate-scented lip gloss inside (just turn it over and lift the lid).  The heady scents make me want to reach for the nearest Hershey bar - no joke!  The flavors include: Chocolate Vanilla Creme, Mocha, Chocolate Caramel and Chocolate Strawberry Creme and I love them all.  It brings back fond memories of a giant tube of Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers lip gloss I had when I was in Junior High - it was Tootsie Roll flavor and I wore it every chance I got. 

I've moved this little set around the house (kitchen counter, office sideboard, front table) and every time I come upon the box it makes me happy.  A little bit of delight in the most unexpected form.   

Monday, July 30, 2012

Family Book Club

Am I sparking your imagination?  I saw this stone arch and a two track road winding into the distance and knew that you had to see it.  It could be the cover of a great book, don't you think? 

When I was at my husband's family reunion, there was a great moment when the kids (boys and girls age 12-18) were clamoring for my attention.  I casually asked them for recommendations of books they thought I should read and the floodgates opened.  I kept track of the title, author, and which child was recommending it on a "notepad" on my iPhone and the more titles I wrote down, the more they seemed to come up with.  It was magic.

A big part of this great family moment was the fact that I valued their opinion.  I was looking them in the eye and giving them the chance to affect me.  They were "pitching" their favorite books, hoping that I would read them and be impacted the way they were.

I proposed a Reunion Book Club (our reunion is every 2 years with family coming from Minnesota, Texas, Utah, Michigan and Virginia) and one of the teen boys suggested that we manage the group on Facebook - I love it!  I promised to transcribe the reading list (to the Reunion Book Club FB page) so that the kids could refer to it to read any books they might have missed.  The kids said they would check the page to see my progress and offer encouragement.  Yowza, I've got a lot of reading to do!  But this was a precious connection and I'll do anything to keep it.  

Would the teens in your family like to have a book club?

Friday, July 27, 2012


I miss you!  I am on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama and I can't blog!  We have 28 of my husband's relatives sharing a house and the internet at this rental property is patchy at best.  I noticed that I had a connection, so I've jumped on to say Hi.  I will be home and able to post about lots of blog worthy topics starting Monday.  Until then, I hope you can find delight in the Olympics! xo Anne    

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seizing Delight: Marsh Marigolds

A big part of "finding delight in every day life" is recognizing that timing is everything.  So much of the wonder and delight of life is seasonal, so you have to be ready to seize the day and enjoy the moment when it arrives.  

For example, marsh marigolds wait for no man.  They are one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the Spring and when we notice clusters of yellow in the marshy areas near the cottage, my mom and I make tracks.  I am usually only able to go "up north" a few times in the Spring and if I am lucky enough to be there when the marsh marigolds bloom, I'm not going to miss it!  The plants may bloom for a few weeks, but there is only a short window when I am in town to capture it.

We always drive to this shallow stream (between Leland and Northport, Michigan) where my mom first started photographing marsh marigolds in the 1980's.  The plants thrive in this marshy area and the clear shallow stream is the perfect visual foil to the healthy bushy plants.  

I took this photo on May 23, 2009 and it was the last time I was up north for the bloom.  Look at the glorious clusters winding their way up the riverbed.  I am so glad that my mom and I had to the chance to spend a delightful afternoon taking pictures.  

In terms of Spring occasions, it wasn't as romantic as a wedding, or momentous as graduation, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Whenever you flip the calendar page to a new month, write the seasonal items you are looking forward to ("tulips" or "English peas") to remind yourself to get out and enjoy them when they are at their peak.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Birch Bark

I love the natural beauty of birch bark.  Look at the gorgeous "new" layer of white birch on a tree I found on our property - the old layer of bark was unraveling off of it naturally.

I would never peel bark from a birch tree, but I have had hunting for pieces of bark on the ground.  When I have enough, I plan to piece it together and cover a picture frame or a large matchbox.  It will be a "custom designer touch" that I made myself.

I blogged about an easy chocolate dipped pretzel recipe that mimics birch bark here.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stormy Weather

Oooh...can you hear the dramatic movie score that could go along with this photo?  I happened to be in the Leland harbor last summer when a rain storm cropped up at sunset.  The colors are exactly as my camera captured it - vibrant, distinct and eerie.

I love how the rocks of the breakwater look dry and harsh, while the sky looks like something cooked up from a chemistry set.  You can see the hazy streaks of rain water falling from the sky.

With so much of the country experiencing drought, I was happy to see the rain today and thought that showcasing a beautiful storm was appropriate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger

Country Living magazine is having an event to recognize bloggers.  I've nominated my blog, Moments of Delight and would love if you would chime in and let Country Living magazine know that you enjoy my blog too. Thanks, Anne

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sky High Hollyhocks

Look at the Hollyhocks! - these are the flowers of English cottages and fairy tales.  I had to pinch myself when I visited a friend here in northern Michigan at  a private community called Northport Point and saw hollyhocks growing everywhere.  
Every Spring, I am usually swayed by the deep blue delphinium when I am shopping at the garden center.  Next year I will have to keep my wits about me and remember to buy some hollyhocks for my garden.  I have a beautiful brick wall around my patio and I think hollyhocks would thrive there.  Have you had success growing hollyhocks?
These hollyhocks are sky high!  I am 5'2" and I took this photo aiming up, without a zoom.  How tall are they?  I'd guess that they are 9 feet tall, easy!

I want to remind you of the photograph I took of hollyhocks in England - it is one of my favorites.  I was driving through a small town on the way to Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill's childhood home) when I saw them and yelled, "Stop the car!" 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Knit Fish

Yesterday I was taking about fish nets, now I'm blogging about knit fish.  There is a tongue twister in there somewhere, I'm sure of it.  

I was wandering through Fishtown in Leland, Michigan and I came upon a split store - half "Tack and Jibe" (wonderful boating life-inspired accessories) and half Fishtown Preservation Society.

In addition to accepting donations to preserve Fishtown, they also sell promotional items that supporters can purchase to declare that Fishtown is important to them.   I saw mugs, shirts, hats, but what caught my eye was a wall display of knit fish ornaments, which I think is genius!  What a charming way for the society gain support.  The shop girl told me that her mother ties a fish on the neck of a wine bottle when she brings wine to a party - I love that!    

I was in a bit of a rush, so I didn't make an impulse buy that day, but I think a school of fish is in my future. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Leelanau Peninsula: Glass Buoys

I want these!  I was walking through Fishtown in Leland when I noticed this open container of aquamarine glass buoys that hold fishing nets afloat.  You heard me, aquamarine fishnet floats.  They. are. gorgeous.  
I thought that taking a photograph would be enough, but now that I am back at the cottage writing about them, I really want them even more.  I know that they would look beautiful on display in a bowl in my aqua family room.  I think I need to head back to Fishtown...

*Update - I got some and they look beautiful on a plate in my family room.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pearls in Paradise

Fresh coconut and fresh water pearls - I was in a tropical paradise, no doubt about it.  I have been organizing my photos lately and I realized that I hadn't shown you this gorgeous picture from my trip to Honolulu.  

Corinne and I were exploring the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and after drinking the coconut water out of this fresh coconut with a straw, the vendor cleaved it open and loosened the flesh so that we could eat it.  A few bites of fresh coconut was enough for me, but look how gorgeous it is held up again a display of pearls!

We bought a strand of the soft pink pearls and had a glorious time making jewelry with them.  Don't you love it?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Leelanau Peninsula: Perfect Tart Cherry Pie

Michigan produces three quarters of the nations tart cherries and this year we have had a devastating crop loss due to an early freeze.  The bright red cherries in the left side of this photograph are tarts and I bought one of the containers to make a fresh cherry pie.  

I was at the farmer's market in Suttons Bay on Saturday and I spoke to the farmer himself and he jokingly said, "That's most of my crop this year."  To hear him talk of it, broke my heart, but that is the business of farming, if Mother Natures throws a curve ball, the farmers have to cope.

I was glad to support him with a purchase (I bought a carton of the dark sweet cherries too) and the tarts made the best cherry pie ever!  

Fabulous Cherry Pie

2 frozen deep dish pie crusts
4 cups washed and pitted tart cherries
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons quick tapioca
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open the package of frozen pie crusts and cut the rim off of one of them.  Tip it out of the tin pan and onto a cutting board. Cut the circle of pie crust into long strips with a knife - this will be your lattice.

Mix cherries, sugar, tapioca and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Allow to sit 15-20 minutes.  Stir well and pour into whole frozen pie shell.  Lay the strips of crust across the pie and arrange into a lattice or basket weave pattern.  Pinch dough strips to edge of pie shell to seal the strip.  Brush crust lattice and rim with a beaten egg.  Sprinkle entire top of pie with a little white sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with creamy vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Match Box Puzzle

I just love this collection of matches I made.  I chose a bunch of different scrapbook papers and glued them to small boxes of matches.  Now they work together as a kind of "artistic puzzle."

I leave them displayed together on a sofa table in the family room and check back periodically to see if they have been rearranged.  As often as not, someone has taken it upon themselves to move the boxes around, changing the arrangement to appeal to them.  I love that!  You wouldn't think that there was a lot of reasoning or placement to a collection of black and white patterns, but there is.  I think it is a bit like a crossword puzzle, finding satisfaction in the solution.

Would you rearrange these boxes if you had the chance?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stained Glass Glory

I love seeing light stream through a stained glass window.  What is neat about this particular window is that it is housed in the London Garden Museum, which was once the medieval and Victorian church, St. Mary’s at Lambeth.  This is a salvation story you should hear.  If you are intrigued by my nutshell version, you can click the links and delve in further.
The story begins in 1062 when the first incarnation of the church was built of wood on this site near the Thames.  It existed as a church for hundreds of years and then as the area slowly degraded, the church was deemed redundant.  Set for demolition, the building's course veers dramatically when it was rescued in 1976. (You can read through the timeline here.)

In 1976, Rosemary Nicholson arrived at the overgrown church yard looking for the tombs of John Tradescant (c.1570-1638), the man acknowledged to be the first great gardener in British history, and his son of the same name (c.1608-1662).  She found their tombs, but what she also discovered was that the desconsecrated church was boarded and set to be demolished. 

Unwilling to let this piece of British (and gardening) history be lost, Rosemary and her husband, John, set out to save this church building and tombs (with its 950 years of documented British history) by gathering supporters, volunteers and funds to establish the Tradescant Trust in 1977.

This trust was responsible for the restoration and revitalization of the church and currently oversees the building and its grounds.  The trust ended up founding the world's first museum of garden history.  

Go Rosemary! Thank you for your vision and dedication to preserving this fantastic and historic site.  I walked through the garden, poured over the antique garden implements displays inside and bought my share of souvenirs.  I am writing a new book (A Delightful Tour of England) and will send my readers to visit the Museum of Garden History.  I blogged a bit about the inside of the museum here.   

Friday, July 6, 2012

Blue and Yellow Masterpiece

Patience! I am glad I dug down (pardon the pun) and found some patience when I was gardening!  The unidentified plant that was almost pulled "as a weed" produced these beautiful fringed asters!

I had forgotten that I planted a "Blue Stokes" aster in the side garden and I know that it didn't bloom last year, but (Voila!) it is back and blooming in one of my favorite colors.  In this case, I am guilty of forgetting my own "Master Plan."

When I combined a few blooms with an "Endless Summer" hydrangea and some "Graham Thomas" yellow roses, I had my masterpiece.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Lovely Evening

I had a lovely evening at a new Florentine restaurant in Lake Leelanau, Michigan called Bella Fortuna last Saturday night.  It was a Grand Opening Celebration dinner for the restaurant that benefited the Leelanau Cancer Fund and the place was packed.

It started with prosecco and prosciutto on the patio - doesn't that sound divine?  There were plenty of delicious passed appetizers to start the evening off and my favorite was a minced artichoke spread on crostini.  
The dinner had several courses and you can see my entree above, Pesce Funghi (Walleye with fresh mushrooms) and Bistecca (Char grilled steak with salsa verde) served with Cannellini (Tuscan-style beans with extra virgin olive oil).  It was very satisfying meal and a wine pairing with each course didn't hurt.

I know that many lovely Summer nights will be spent on this patio.  Buon Appetito!  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Nothing says vacation like a slow boat ride.  We always have a flag on the back of the boat, most do, but this time it serves to say "Happy 4th of July!"

I've made 3 of my grandmother's coffee cakes (for this morning and the rest of the week), dip for the fruit, scalloped potatoes (for tonight's ham dinner) and graham cracker ice cream for dessert.  Whoosh!  A big accomplishment and I know that everyone will enjoy it.

Now it is time to relax and enjoy.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Recharge Your Battery

Where do you go to recharge your battery?  This view does it for me every time.  I am up at the cottage on Lake Michigan and I am enjoying the quiet.  

The land jutting out on the horizon (on one end of the bay) is called "Whaleback" because it looks like a whale rising out of the water.  It's a classic view in Leelanau County and I love it!   And look at the ripple pattern in the sand at the edge of the shore.  

A day like this is the perfect time to walk the shore looking for petoskey stones.  I am hoping to find a small one that I can make into a pendant for a necklace.  Wouldn't that make a necklace that is both beautiful and interesting?  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

It was the best suggestion yet!  The kids and I had been talking about what flavors of ice cream we should make this week and graham cracker ice cream and cherry pie ice cream were suggested.

We put them on the list and then later, when we were surveying the herb pot, my nephew said we should make Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and add bits of the fresh herb "Chocolate Mint."  We all loved the idea and it became our first flavor.

This recipe is fabulous because it requires no cooking and no eggs.  Genius!

Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream

Mix 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 (5 oz) can of evaporated milk, 2 cups of whole milk, 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and about 4 Tablespoons of chopped fresh Chocolate Mint.  Pour into the freezer container of an electric ice cream maker and follow the ice cream maker instructions.  When the ice cream is almost finished (soft serve consistency), add 1/2 of a bag of mini semi sweet chocolate chips.