Monday, December 31, 2012

Candlelight on New Year's Eve

I am so happy with these beautiful gold-painted votives!  I bought a pack of glass (wax filled) votive candles at Michaels and painted the bottom half of the glass with Liquid Leaf paint in "Classic Gold."  

There are hardly any instructions to give: wear plastic gloves, use a 1" brush to paint each glass with gold leaf paint up to the wax line, allow to dry.  When painting, keep the paint away from bottom lip (base) of the votive; just in case the heat of the candle causes the paint to stick to the surface it is sitting on.  Better safe than sorry.

In the end it became one of my favorite additions to the house.  It gave a lovely glow to the kitchen and made doing the evening dishes much more glamorous. 

Happy New Year!     

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reminder: Anne's 2013 Calendar Moments of Delight

It amuses me to no end that I could order and give my own calendar for gifts this year (yea!) and I am SO pleased with the color and quality produced at Zazzle, my calendar printing company.

You can click the link to look at/order my new 2013 Moments of Delight calendar.  Zazzle is a print-on-demand company that photographers use to create product.  Cost per calendar drops the more copies you order. 

Use coupon code MAKEYOURYEAR to get an exceptional discount.      

A few of the photos in this year's calendar include:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kitchen Test Tubes

I found the perfect "rack" for my cookie-sprinkle-filled test tubes!  Remember when I was on the hunt for a way to display them?  I was shopping at Michaels craft store and noticed that they sell medium-size clear acrylic boxes (near the unfinished wood and tin containers).  I bought 2 boxes and took the lids off.  The bottom half of the box makes the perfect container for my sprinkles. 

The test tubes are safe and secure, all while showcasing the beautiful colors and textures of the sprinkles.  I can leave this on the kitchen counter and get inspired to bake.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a delightful Christmas filled with family and friends.
xo Anne

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa on Christmas Eve

Don't you love it?  I fell for this little Santa and his reindeer at the cake and candy supply store.  I wasn't sure how I would use him, but I knew that where ever I placed him (mind you, I was thinking on a cake) he would be adorable.

It was my husband, Dan, who took him from the kitchen and placed him on the roof of my advent calendar house.  Can you stand it?  It couldn't be more perfect.  I found a source for you online, in case you wanted to put your own Santa "up on the housetop - click click click." 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Color and Christmas

I have found a kindred spirit in Lance's Aunt Pam.  She is an artist who loves two of my favorite things: Color and Christmas.  Her house is a showplace and her Christmas displays are meant to be seen.  I am grateful that she lets me take a few photos to share with you.

This spectacular (and I mean spectacular) tree is decorated with 300-400 vintage ornaments displayed against the kiwi green kitchen walls.  

The tree itself is a 6-ft German/Vienna twig tree (I want one!) that has sturdy, open branches that allow ornaments to be hung all the way in toward the trunk.  This results in a completely decorated tree - not only from top to bottom, but from tip to trunk- and the effect is stunning.  
If Marie Antoinette commissioned a Christmas tree, this would be it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Follow the Star

It was a magical night.  We drove an hour north to our friends' Christmas party on a cold December night and it really felt like Christmas.  We shared a meal, reintroduced ourselves to Dana and Lance's family and friends and listened to live banjo and violin music while we admired their 15-foot live cedar Christmas tree.

I witnessed the spirit of Christmas.  It felt wonderful to be around such a happy group of people.  As the party was winding down, I was so pleased to be invited back to Lance's Aunt Pam's house to see her Christmas decorations.  

We knew that she had an illuminated star on the barn at the end of her driveway and when we pulled up to her house, this is what we saw.  Like I said, it was a magical night.  I will tell you more about our visit tomorrow.   

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Garland of Vintage Ornaments

This year I decided to fashion a garland for the mantel out of the vintage ornaments I have been collecting at rummage sales.  I just love it!  

I bought a length of gold chain (5 feet?) at Home Depot and pinned it to the mantel with 3 clear push pins.  Then I hung the ornaments (with a classic ornament hook) from the chain.  Voila! It is so simple, but so beautiful.  When the sunlight came in the room each afternoon, the garland looked like a beautiful necklace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wooden Christmas Ornament Tree

It is so cute!  I never had a chance to show you how my wooden ornament tree turned out!  Remember when I bought 3 bags of small wooden ornaments at a rummage sale for...wait for it....25 cents per bag?  I wrote about it here.

Well this is how it turned out!  I ended up using a hot glue gun and gluing the individual ornaments around a white Styrofoam cone.  Then I glued the cone to a white box and Voila!  The cutest tree ever for my first floor powder room.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bottle Brush Forest

Adorable! This tiny assortment of bottle brush trees makes me happy.  The display acts as a kind of "visual vitamin" and I feel better every time I see it.

I have a Swedish-style plate rack in my family room and every Christmas I change the plates and decorations just a bit.  I realize now that you haven't seen it as I have it now, so I will add another photo to this post this afternoon to give you the full perspective.

Something to "take away" from this post, is the idea of keeping your eyes open for new holiday touches at craft stores and discount shops.  I found this collection of trees near the Christmas village and train set items (buildings, benches, people) at Michaels craft store.  It was $1.99 for the set and they have certainly made my Christmas a little merrier. 
You can see more of my house decorated for Christmas here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Homemade Toffee

Tah-dah! Here is our pride and joy - gorgeous homemade toffee.  Every year my friend Alison and I dedicate a Sunday afternoon to toffee.  Sweet, crunchy, nutty, fabulous toffee.  It all started about 5 years ago when she invited me along on her pilgrimage to the cake and candy supply store.  She was shocked that I had never been to this baker's gold mine.  When I climbed into her car, I had my cookie and candy binder with me.

The binder is where I keep all of the recipes and articles that I have torn from magazines.  When I showed her my much coveted toffee page, she suggested that we give it a whirl.  Yippee! It seemed like a daunting thing to take on by myself (candy thermometers, molten sugar) but completely do-able with a friend by my side.  Aren't there a lot of life situations like that?

We have been making big batches of toffee together every Christmas ever since.  I love having tins of homemade toffee, of course, but I love our quality time together just as much.

This is our magic toffee recipe from the gorgeous pages of Southern Living magazine: Mildred's Toffee.   (*Note: We use higher quality Merckens dark chocolate buttons or discs, not grocery store bagged chocolate chips)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beautiful Wrapping Paper

I had a really nice experience at the post office last Saturday.  It was jammed with people who had shopped till they dropped, wrapped their presents, found the addresses and organized themselves to the point where they had one final step to take...mailing the gifts.

Dan and I walked in and made our way to the display of shipping boxes.  He was  carrying a stack of our packages that was so high he could barely see over his armful and I was negotiating box construction, taping, addressing and arranging them in the shipping box.  We completed our task in front of the 25 people in line.  They were waiting patiently, but boredom made our process entertaining.

We thought we could mail the box from the automated mail station, but a kind woman saw our error and pointed out that we couldn't buy the box we were using from the automated teller.  I'm so glad she said something, because I did not need to camp out in the wrong line when I had lots of other errands to get to.

Anyhoo, when she finally checked out and was leaving (at least 20 minutes later), I caught her eye to say thanks again, and she walked over to us and said, "We're all really jealous of your beautiful packages.  Have a great holiday." and went on her way through the crowd.

Isn't that nice! Her comment made my day.  This year I chose a variety of red, raspberry and gold papers and I must admit, they do look beautiful together and really help to highlight the red and raspberry ornaments on the tree.  
Wrapping in coordinating papers does not take a lot of effort (it is really more of a plan), but the effect can be beautiful. Although they look expensive, I found these papers at Homegoods. If you see some pretty wrapping paper on sale after the holidays, pick up a few coordinating rolls and plan to make a statement under your tree next year.  You never know who will compliment your efforts.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sugar Santa

I love these super cute Santas!  I was at Heinrich's cake and candy supply store last week (of course I was!) and I took this photo in their Sugar Room.  They have small individual bins with fresh sugar (or frosting) decorations to enhance your holiday sweets. 

I like to dress up my sugar cubes with these sweet frosting faces.  Remember these from Thanksgiving a few years ago?  You just "glue" the faces to the sugar cubes with a dab of frosting. Super easy and super cute.  Try this at your next holiday gathering and notice how many people suddenly take sugar in their coffee!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Wreath

I wanted to show you these really fabulous wreaths I saw in a shop window in Houston.  It exemplifies the idea that a disparate group of items (different sizes, shapes and colors) can work together visually.

The artist that put this together hot glued a mish-mash of old holiday ornaments, candy canes and vintage floral picks (holly, mistletoe) to a wreath form and the results are beautiful! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Frosting and Fellowship

We are getting pretty good at frosting with royal white icing!  My friend, Angie and I got together for our annual afternoon of Frosting and Fellowship (translation: we decorate cookies together) on Sunday and these are some of our best creations.

I made the cookies with my grandmother's Sugar Cookie recipe and I cut out a series of scalloped squares with a new cookie cutter, although I wasn't sure how we would decorate them.  Angie took one look at them and declared that they were postage stamps!  What a brainstorm. 

She decorated all five (shown at the top of the cookie sheet) and I still can't get over how cute they are.  I have a feeling that we will be including postage stamps in our cookie decorating from now on.  

The frosting is called royal white icing and is known for being smooth and flat.  Once the cookies are dry, you can stack them and they won't smudge one another.  This year we used bags of CK royal white icing mix.  You add the appropriate amount of water to the contents of the bag in a mixing bowl and blend until the consistency is like honey.  Then we color a portion of the icing with paste food coloring.  We put some of the colored icing in a pastry bag fit with a No.2 tip and we put the rest in a dish and add a touch of water to make it thinner.  We pipe the border of the cookies, and then "paint" or fill in the rest of the cookie area with the thinner frosting using a new paint brush.  You can add sprinkles or decorating touches while the icing is still wet. Allow to dry.

I had never tried using royal white icing until a friend of Angie's taught her.  Then she showed me and we have been having fun with it ever since.  If you have never tried frosting cookies with royal white icing, maybe this is your year.  It is really fun and the bakery-like results make it worth the effort.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Beekman Boys win Amazing Race

Our cheers for Team Beekman worked!  I am delighted to report that my friends WON The Amazing Race, which means they have won a million dollars!  

Dear friends of mine, Josh and Brent, were a team on the fall season of The Amazing Race.  The show began on ABC on September 30th and the finale was last night.  You can watch a pre-show video interview with Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge here.

I only use my photographs on my blog, so I've put a picture of Josh and me back in 2006 in NYC.  Josh and I went through the English Literature BA program at Michigan State University and I am so happy that this win means that he can stop commuting (for work) between NYC and their goat farm in the country and live with Brent in Sharon Springs full time.  

Josh and Brent have an exciting life as goat farmers, founders of the brand Beekman 1802 (a lifestyle brand founded in small town America) that features goat milk soap, BLAAK aged goat cheese and a selection of artisanal onion jams, caramel cajeta sauce and rosemary-creamed honey. (*Hint: I'm giving some of their glorious products for Christmas this year and I know the recipients will be thrilled!)  

You can actually watch their life on a TV show called "The Fabulous Beekman Boys."  An entire season is being rebroadcast on The Cooking Channel.  Originally filmed and broadcast on Plant Green, we are all hoping that the show gains a large enough audience to justify filming another season of life on the Beekman farm.  Could a win on The Amazing Race clinch another season? I hope so!

Josh and Brent's lifestyle/reality show is a charming look about the real life issues of working in NYC and trying to establish a new venture in small town America.  The photography is stunning (believe me, you will want to visit), plus the animals on the farm are characters in themselves.    

Josh is an advertising executive and New York Times best selling author and together he and Brent (MBA/Physician) have also written a Heirloom Cookbook, using the recipes they created from their heirloom seed garden.  Their talent is endless and a "game show million" couldn't benefit a nicer couple.

After last night's exciting win, Josh and Brent posted this thank you on their website and I wanted you to see it: 7 Billion "Thank You" Notes. |

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Brownies

I normally like to come up with my own cute, but this darling Winter scene (on top of a pan of brownies) exists because Nigella Lawson did it first.  She is a British television personality that has her own cooking show (and many cookbooks).

One day recently on her show, she made a gingerbread cake in a 9 x 13 pan, cut it into cubes, dusted it with powdered sugar and placed a few deer and trees on top.  I loved it!  And you know I have the deer from my successful "Reindeer Games" cupcakes of 2008.  When I was at the cake and cookie supply store the other day I noticed a bag of trees and knew that I had to try making my own woodland scene.  And all of a sudden today I had an occasion to use them!

My nephew came home from Switzerland today after 3 months studying abroad  and his parents hosted an impromptu welcome home party.  I made this batch of brownies and brought them to the party to represent the the snow-filled forests in Switzerland.  They looked adorable and were a big hit.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cookies: The Power of Cute

Look how cute he is!  And he doesn't even have a chocolate chip eye or hooves yet!  This gingerbread moose is a perfect example of the power of cute

Much like a sound byte is a memorable moment in a speech or presentation, a  simple but cute cookie can leave a lasting impression at a party.

Think I'm joking?  I know this from experience.  One night I took a plate of snowflake cookies to a book club meeting.  I made a simple powdered sugar frosting and frosted the snowflakes in different shades of blue - starting with white and every few cookies, I'd add a drop of blue food coloring to make the frosting a shade darker.  Plain sugar cookie dough, Plain frosting, blue food coloring.  Simple, but beautiful. 

This was at least 8 years ago and I every so often someone in the group reminds us of those beautiful cookies, the most recent mention was last month!  It makes me feel good to know that something I baked gave them a moment of delight.

The power of cute is keeping it simple.  Gingerbread is brown.  Moose are brown.  That is all you need to know to make an impact. If I recall, I found the moose cookie cutter in a set sold at IKEA. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finding Delight by Anne Reeves

*Click HERE to take a LOOK INSIDE*  

I am so thrilled to announce that my new book, "Finding Delight" is available for sale now and I will be shipping them out for holiday gift giving on Friday.  Click the BUY NOW button at the top of the blog (or in the side panel on right) to process your secure transaction.  I will email customers after I receive each order to find out if you would like an inscription inside the book.

Finding Delight is a 135-page soft cover modern coffee table book dedicated to the joy of finding delight in everyday life. With a full-color photograph on every page, topics include: "Living A Life of Layers," "Visual Vitamins" and "The Power of Cute."   

"I believe that the best life is a varied life.  When hobbies and travel collide with friendship and collecting.  Where sugar rules and stories matter. I've been writing about Finding Delight for years and I have woven my methods and mantra into these pages. As you read, pay attention to the pages that capture your imagination. Notice how happy you can feel, simply by thinking, by remembering.  I find delight all over my different times of day, in different cities and settings, with people that I love and in strangers that I meet. This is delight." - Anne Reeves

Monday, December 3, 2012

Anne Reeves in Metro You Magazine

I've waited 365 days for the holiday edition of Metro You magazine to come out - Tah-dah!  I am so happy with the article and the photos of my house are gorgeous!  You can read all about delight at my house each holiday season online here.  Are you getting in the spirit?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Calendars

Today is December 1st and it is finally time to open Window #1 on the Advent Calendar.  Except of course that I like my new advent calendar so much that I don't want to disrupt this pretty picture of a general store by bending the flaps open.  Am I the only one that feels this way? Year after year the joke in my house is that you can't actually open the windows on the advent calendar on display.  Today I'll pretend I opened #1 and saw "a sewing basket full of thread." 

My parents found this beautiful advent calendar for me and brought it over as a surprise last week.  When she saw it, the design immediately reminded my mom of a sketch I did of an armoire full of clothes (below).  And I must say, I see the similarity too.  This advent calendar is full of some of my favorite things: fabric, ribbons, sweets, toys, housewares and Christmas decorations.  I wouldn't think such an advent calendar exists!  You can see why I want to keep it forever.
I was able to find a link to my darling advent calendar online in case you want to order one.  It is made in Germany by Korsch-Verlag.  You can also find some wonderful advent calendars at Blumchen and in your local bookstore. What is behind your Window #1?