Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bead Show Fever

Have you ever been to a bead show?  If you have the basic jewelry making knowledge (how to string beads on a wire, secure a crimp bead and attach a clasp with a jump ring), then attending a bead show could be a really fun thing to do with a friend. 

I had never been to a bead show before my friend Corinne took me to this show in Honolulu.  Up until then I had relied completely on Michaels Craft and Joann's for my materials.  The sheer variety of colors, materials and styles is reason enough to take this field trip.  If you have a new blouse or sweater that you want to coordinate with, bring it along! Your brain will thank you, as you often need an inspiration piece to start with.

I found this terrific list of bead shows around the United States.  I know that Corinne has found one for us to attend in Michigan this Spring and I'm already looking forward to it.  I love adding color to a classic outfit with a beautiful necklace and since most jewelry shows are open to the public, we can all enhance our wardrobe with a custom necklace.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Doll Face

Ha! I thought that today's moment of delight could be a laugh.  Isn't this photo ridiculous?  I knew that dolls came in all shapes and sizes and here's the proof!  When I was in Shipshewana with my friends, one of the stores we wandered into specialized in dolls.  I was thinking more along the lines of doll clothes, but this proves that they start from scratch.  

The store was full of doll enthusiasts and I seemed to be the only one who thought this display was more than a little bizarre.  I took a quick picture so that I could show you. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pantone Color of the Year 2013: Emerald

Pantone announces Emerald is the Color of the Year for 2013!   
GO Green!  I couldn't resist showing you a little Spartan Spirit.  You see, "Go Green" is part of the chant for my Alma mater, Michigan State University.  The team colors are green and white and the football stadium practically vibrates with the fans are cheering, "Go Green! Go White!" back and forth.

Do you have accessories, home decor or paper goods that are emerald green? If not, keep your eye out for ways to bring a little green into your life.  I've chosen this photo steeped in emerald green that highlights water lilies and the beauty of a quiet river.  As for fashion, I have just relegated a favorite spring green cardigan to the front of the closet. Happy New Year!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Decoupage Candle Making

I've found a new project that I love...decoupaging vintage images and ephemera onto religious-style pillar candles.  This one depicts my husband's great grandmother sitting jauntily for a formal portrait.  I paired the image with a pale pink receipt that says thank you in lavender and tied a cotton ribbon around the glass to add texture.  

I have the candle in my living room and I like to think that the thank you is from me to her, for sharing her image and from her to me, for bringing her into modern times.  We somehow know each other through this photo and now she has a window into our modern life.

Part of what I love about this project are the perfect (and inexpensive) white pillar candles.  They are a blank slate and each combination of image and paper gives a completely different effect.  At Christmas, I made a series of candles with copies of the same vintage Christmas card layered over old sheet music.  Each candle was a gift for our guests at Advent By Candlelight to take home.  They loved them and I heard later how they enjoyed lighting them in their own home throughout December.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fairy Godmother's Gift

Look what my fairy godmother sent me!  Remember when I broke one of my beloved glass teapots?  I blogged about the crash-bam-boom that happened in my kitchen that resulted in a lot of broken glass and the loss of one of my teapots.

My dear friend, Donna, found a glass teapot before I did and mailed it to me, along with the latest issue of Tea Time magazine!  A fairy godmother indeed.  I am completely spoiled.  I brewed a pot of "Royal English Breakfast" tea by Marie Belle and relaxed for a while yesterday with my new magazine.  It has been around 10 degrees outside all week and I have been relying on cups of tea to keep me warm.  Tea and a new magazine on a snowy winter's day - this is a moment of delight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Linda Nelson Stocks Puzzles

Not all puzzles are the same.  I love when they include a village; a patchwork of fields and hills; a lived-in house and garden to walk through.  I like to imagine myself walking around and spending time in and among the buildings.  I wouldn't chose this kind of image for myself as wall art , but as a puzzle it is exactly what I'm looking for.  

There is something about the folk art paintings of the late Linda Nelson Stocks that make a perfect puzzle in my book.  My parents first discovered her work years ago and are so dedicated to her style that they will only work on puzzles painted by Linda Nelson Stocks.  Once in a while they send a puzzle over to our house for us to enjoy when we have the time.  

I had seen this puzzle (Frog Mill Pond) being worked on at their house sometime last year.  I remember it because the box is signed, "Best Wishes, Linda Nelson."

My mom is famous for writing on things in permanent pen, most memorable is her Tupperware which says "Please return to the Queen" on the bottom.  So when I saw this autograph I assumed that my mom was joking around when she bought it for my dad.

Well the joke is on me because the artist herself signed this box!  Every once in a while my parents go on a puzzle surge and order 4 or 5 new ones online.  One of their purchases must have been from the Linda Nelson Stocks web page (now closed) because Linda Nelson signed their box as it went out in the mail.  I love it.  A signature is a simple gesture on her part, but it shows a lot of love.  

As we sit by the fire on cold January nights like this, listening to music and clicking pieces into place, we will enjoy the simple act of building a puzzle.  Have you worked on a puzzle lately?  It just might bring you a moment of delight. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Unusual Vases

Throughout the cold (It's 3 degrees here tonight!) and snowy Winter months, I like to sprinkle in flower arranging ideas to help keep my head in the game and preparing for Spring.  Now is the time to be on the lookout for unusual containers for flower arrangements.  Today I'm putting the spotlight on tin boxes (often filled with cookies!)

I made this pretty arrangement of peonies and roses in an aqua tin with a hinged lid.  A few years ago, Martha Stewart sold toffee and peppermint bark in these beautiful tins at Macy's.  I bought a few, devoured the candy and now I can use the beautiful aqua tins in different ways - to hold office supplies, as a casual jewelry box or as a vase!

I put an open gallon-size Ziploc bag in the tin, nestle a block of water-filled Oasis (that I cut to size) inside the bag and then tucked the extra edges of plastic bag down into the tin.  The Ziploc bag keeps the water and Oasis contained; the tin won't leak or rust and I can safely display the flower arrangement anywhere I want without fear of a watermark.

Lately I have seen a variety of cookies packaged in tin boxes at TJ Maxx and Homegoods.  These French butter cookies have been on the shelves recently and as you can see they come in yellow, orange or pink tins. 

2013 could be your year for exceptional flower just need the proper supplies!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mitten Sisters

My friend Nancy and I have decided to be "Mitten Sisters."  We met for coffee right before Christmas and talked (and talked and talked) for 2 hours at the Caribou Coffee that is equidistant between our houses.  Nancy is celebrated children's fiction author and her specialty is writing inspirational stories for Catholic children. Do you remember when I brought her a religious metal from Paris?  We talked about writing, friendships and finding the quiet moments in a really busy season.

When we were gathering our things and leaving, we noticed a display of winter items for sale.  Including these finger-less gloves (the link shows a different color) which double as a drink cozy (shown on my drink above)!  The pretty oatmeal-colored weave will keep our hands warm and leave our fingers free to operate our phone, or can buffer the heat from a grande nonfat latte - I love it!

We each bought a matching set and called ourselves "mitten sisters."  Happy New Year, Sis!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paper Pastries

The Japanese shop girl had no faith in me at all.  That makes my paper pastry triumph all the more sweet.  

You know by now that I love things made of paper.  I have constructed paper houses.  I made a paper clock for my office.  To me, paper is as wonderful as fabric. It holds the same limitless possibility for color and texture, just in a difference medium.  

I have a few Japanese paper scenes that I love.  So when I was scouting for treasures at the Japanese department store, Shirokiya, in Honolulu last year, I had high hopes of finding something neat made of paper.  And I did!  

My heart stopped when I saw a packet of essentially origami pastries. Can you stand it?  I had to have them.  The packet contained a stack of printed papers and instructions in Japanese. 
There were 3 sets ($5 each) - two of the themes were dessert and one was sushi.  I was really happy as a swooshed up to the register.  When I asked the sales girl what she knew about these projects she was was very discouraging.  She said they were hard and that I would be okay if I already practiced origami or if knew how to read Japanese- blah, blah, blah. 

Well I won't say that it was easy or that I avoided tape in the final steps, but the paper pastries I have made are above and I couldn't be happier.  A cup of green tea, anyone? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fruit Slices - I Love Lemon

The forward of my book, Finding Delight, includes the statement: "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."

Where sugar rules, Anne?  Really?  Yes.
I love sweets.  And I like sharing them with my friends and family.  I want to go out for cupcakes.  I want to make cookies when a friend is coming over for tea.  I have wonderful memories associated with candy and I want to be reminded of them as often as possible.  

My maternal grandmother, Anne, loved fruit slices.  I spent most of my time with her during summer days at her cottage up north. On the glorious days that it was just the two of us, we always ate candy.  Her two favorites were Sanders Dark Honeycomb Chips and Fruit Slices.  

If you clicked on the fruit slices link, you'll see them as I remember them. A white tray with 16 slices on it - four each of cherry, lemon, orange and lime.  There weren't very many slices and I remember that when the occasion called for candy, we only ate one.  It was special and we savored every chewy bite.  

I am nothing if not sentimental, so it shouldn't surprise you that two of my favorite candies are dark chocolate honeycomb chips and lemon fruit slices.  But times have changed, things are more plentiful now and I can actually buy fruit slices (just my favorite, lemon!) in a bulk box at my local grocery store.  I know Nama wouldn't believe it if she saw what I had access to.  

I try and show restraint; I don't always have them on hand.  But on Sunday afternoon as I passed by the candy aisle, this box of sugar made its way into my cart.  I eat them with abandon while they last and think of my grandmother every time.  Yes, my friends, sugar is a powerful memory maker and I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Button Necklace

It is sew simple, but sew effective!  Yes, I am going through a button phase.  I made my mom a chunky necklace made of all gold buttons (the kind you find on a blazer) and it is fabulous!  She wore it to a luncheon over the holidays and caused a stir.  That is what I love about jewelry making.  I like "whipping something up" that will makes people feel beautiful.  Of course I never make more than 2 or 3 of any one design.  I can't focus long enough to really make a lot of any one thing.

This necklace has large gray and tan buttons (some stacked) that are held together by a new favorite thing, DMC Memory Thread. I'm sure it is fabulous in needlework, but I put it to use making jewelry!  It is beautiful fiber-wrapped copper wire that adds stability for when you, say, want to "stitch" buttons together.  After connecting the buttons, I clipped off the excess memory wire, twisted the end back onto itself and tucked it under another wire in back.  Then I was able to attach a connecting loop to the wire and attach the grey chain from there.  I love it! 

Have you ever made jewelry from buttons?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sewing Notion Stickers

Look what Santa put in my stocking! A set of stickers inspired by sewing notions.  Does he know me or what?

The set is made by the "French General" division of jolee's boutique (manufactured by EKSuccess).  Each button has a foam adhesive square on the back and can be attached to letters or scrapbook pages. In my case, I think the most likely place for me to attach one is on paper-covered match box.  It would look sew cute. 

I actually have 2 sets - this one called "turquoise notion kit" and another with buttons and trim in shades of red.  The arrangement is so artistic, I plan to frame one of them - I'm just not sure which!  Don't you think it would make a sweet piece of art on a desk in a bedroom?      

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wander an English Garden

When I was in England, I was in the right place at the right time.  For whatever reason, the route I chose to travel was quiet and free of tourists.  It was as if I entered a store and went left, when everyone else walked to the right. Do you know what I mean?  As a result, everyone I encountered was surprised and happy to see an American and had all the time in the world to chat, answer my questions and suggest things that I might like to see.  

That is how Dan and I came to have this private estate garden all to ourselves.  We were staying at Frampton Court Estate in Gloucestershire and the woman that minds the estate arranged with the owner for us to have a self-guided tour of the garden at the Manor.  We walked through a door in the garden wall and wandered the paths, walked across green spaces and sat happily on the bench you see here.  

Isn't it remarkable how many layers and textures there can be in one place?  So many shades of green, all of it alive and all of it perfectly suited to the surroundings.  I loved it here.  Can you imagine having a real English garden to tend?  The pink flower is a Bombast Rose peony. I felt as if the pages of The Secret Garden had come to life.      

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Glass Teapot Collection

My glass teapot "collection" has been reduced by one this week.  I had it on the shelf below the melange of Tupperware containers and when things got a little top-heavy, everything seemed to fall out of the cabinet at once.  I know you've been in my shoes.  Things happen and glass breaks.   

I am hoping that I can find another glass teapot at Homegoods. It was a few years ago, I found this teapot there for only $11.  You see, I like to give each person their own teapot when they come to my house.  At book club last month, the four of us sat around the table eating cookies and drinking tea, each with a different type brewing.  It is an easy way to make people feel special, so I've got to find another! The hunt begins!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Resort wear Ribbon Watches on Etsy

There was a time in my career when I would have a booth at juried art shows.  One of my most popular items was the ribbon watch.  Each January, in anticipation of travel out of the cold weather, I reevaluate my own personal ribbon watch collection.  Which ones will I take to Florida?  What are the resort wear colors this season? I get excited and I sew some watchbands.  This is where you come in.

I have a small stash of brand new watch faces and brand new ribbon watch bands that I've sewn and am selling on Etsy for only $21.  Since I was sewing for myself, why not make a few extra for the store?  Some watches have a small face and some have a large face (like the ones shown above) so be sure to read the description. Smaller watch faces with band are only $18.50) 

If you are in the mood to add a super cute ribbon watch to your winter escape, you can shop for them here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Clean and Quiet

Many times over the last 10 days, I've wanted to pick up the house and "shake" all of the Christmas decorations into one corner.  Can you relate? Every January I am certain that I have too many holiday touches!  But as of this morning, the house is finally clean and quiet, with all of the decorations safely stowed in the basement.  

The only colors in the house right now are the many shades of cream, white, aqua and oatmeal and that is okay with me.  It's relaxing.  It's peaceful. It is what I need after a hustle-bustle put-a-bow-on-it holiday season.  

I often talk about decorating your home so that you can "look at what you love." It is just as important to put the extraneous stuff away once in a while so that you can give your eyes a rest.  Your treasures will be all the more special when you bring them out again.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Downton Abbey, Season 3

Kindred Spirits Unite!  Tomorrow night (January 6, 2013) in America, PBS is broadcasting the premier of Season 3 of our beloved miniseries, Downton Abbey

It has been a long wait.  I absolutely love this mini-series and have had fun introducing it to my friend, Corinne.  When I was in Hawaii visiting her last January, Season 2 started.  I wanted to watch, but she hadn't seen any of Season 1.  So she bought Season 1 "on demand" and every night we watched an episode of Season 1 together.  By Sunday we had caught her up on 8 or so episodes and she was ready to continue the saga with me.  It was so much fun seeing her gasp (the bar of soap left on the floor!) or look at me (Mr. Pamuk!) as Season 1 plots twists happened.

It looks like you can watch prior episodes for free on, if you need a Downton refresher course.  Enjoy! 

And be sure to set your DVR to record tomorrow night!  My friends in England and France have already seen the complete Season 3 and they loved  it.  This feeling was corroborated today by a woman at IKEA.  I was sitting next to a woman and mentioned that we were a bit crazy to be out shopping in the crowds today.  She agreed that she had never seen it so busy.  I said that it was okay because at least tomorrow we could reward ourselves by staying home and watching Downton Abbey. She practically shrieked when I named the show and she quickly gave me a high five.  She said her friend has an advance copy of the new season and that she had watched almost all of Season 3.  She told me that I was going to drop what I was holding during certain scenes - it's that good!   

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hawaiian Sea Salt

There's nothing like a little Hawaiian sea salt to kick up the flavor of a dish.  I keep a teardrop-shaped dish of Kamaaina fine grain sea salt at the ready on my stove top.  I think it looks pretty and I love using the little scoop.

You'll remember that I spent the month of January as a guest at my friend's house in Honolulu last year.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be with friends and share the day-to-day of life in Hawaii.  I loved it.  We grilled fish on the patio.  Went to farmer's markets.  And my camera was always at my side. You can look back at my trip by clicking "Honolulu" and "Hawaii" in the City Series in the sidebar of my blog.

One of the great souvenirs from my trip was buying interesting salts from Hawaii.  Some were spiced blends including Kona coffee grounds (great on pork!) and others I am still experimenting with.  Remember when you travel that sometimes a culinary souvenir can bring back the flavors of your trip. Aloha! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter White Light

Sometimes a string of lights can do wonders.  I wrapped this extra strand of white lights around the top of my terrarium and the effect is lovely.

While I have the urge to pick up my house and shake all of the Christmas decorations into one corner, I have no desire to unplug these lights.  I think they will add a touch of Winter White light for the rest of January.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Brand New Year

Hello!  Happy New Year!  I hope that you are happy and healthy - that you've spent the last 30 days eating pie, hugging your family and getting glitter on your clothes.  I personally feel wonderful.  But my blog has had some real gaps in the last few weeks and I'm sorry.

This was the first year that I couldn't "live the life" and document it in real time.  Those of you that follow my on Facebook and Twitter knew that my holidays were packed with fun.

So today I am actually going to go backwards a bit.  I have photos from the holidays that you must see.  Pictures of how projects turned out and decorations that I made and want to show you.  So, I have retro-blogging to do to make this holiday season make sense.  Come back tomorrow and scroll through December.  You'll see a much better picture of a glorious holiday season.

Happy New Year! xo Anne