Thursday, February 28, 2013

Las Vegas: Modern Vacationing

Sometimes technology is a delight.  When I saw this kiosk and realized that it would snap a digital photo of us and post it to Facebook, Twitter or in an email, I couldn't resist.  Dan and I were walking through Mandalay Bay on our way back from dinner at Border Grill when we took this photo.  Cute, eh?
You simply stand in front of the screen, tap to take a picture (and, yes, you can do retakes) and then log into your email/Facebook/Twitter to send it out to your friends.  What a great idea!  

It gives a plug to the source (Thank you, Mandalay Bay) and shows your family and friends that you are having a great time on your vacation.  It also reinforces Mandalay Bay's new branding of guests as "resortists," rather than tourists.  Interesting.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Las Vegas: Jean Philippe Patisserie

Oh me, oh my!  When I arrived at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, I made a beeline for the Jean Philippe Patisserie, which is to the left of the conservatory not far from the lobby.  You know, just to make sure it was still there and that I could go ahead with my "travel plans" of having a pastry a day.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but a girl has to dream, doesn't she?  In truth, I have been here 3 days and have actually spread my sugar consumption around.  

Day One: a multitude of mini-pastries at The Buffet at The Bellagio (it was our travel day and we hadn't had lunch or dinner, so a buffet was a fun way to go.) 

Day Two: a red velvet cupcake at Jean Philippe.  The cake was delicious - dense and moist.  The frosting encased in this glorious red lacquer was sweet, fluffy and satisfying.  Would I order this again - absolutely! 
Day Three: I ordered myself a small cup of gelato at Cafe Gelato, which is inside The Bellagio, next to the Fine Art Gallery.  I had Bailey's and Dark Chocolate side-by-side and I have never been happier.  I was able to eat it outside on the terrace that overlooks the pool.  I stood in the sun (it was about 62 and sunny today) and enjoyed the fresh air and sweet treat.

I still have two days left on this trip, so there are more pastries in my future.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Las Vegas: Floral Clothing

Interesting, aren't they?  Now look closely and realize that the clothing worn by the Chinese children in the Bellagio's Chinese New Year display are made from FLOWERS!
Carnations and mums attached to wet floral foam "garments" (like Oasis) make costumes that are lush and vibrant.
The garden team were refreshing the display early one morning and I took a photo to show you the fantastic structure (made of wet floral foam and wire) that allows flowers to make their own floral print!
I asked a gardener about the designs and she said that they start off with a plan, but as they refresh it through the weeks, the design often changes based on the flowers and colors they have that day.  I love the fuchsia pants above, that look like they have a pleat of kiwi green.  Imagination at work.

At 2:15 am today (March 3, 2013) the crane rolled in and started removing the Chinese New Year decorations and preparing for the Spring display.  I saw this just in time!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bellagio: Las Vegas

I am staying at the beautiful Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  My husband is attending a conference and I am here searching out things to bring you delight.

I have stayed in 3 Las Vegas properties in the last 5 years and the Bellagio is by far the best.  Look at our beautiful room on the 28th floor.  It has a 5 ft x 5 ft picture window with a view of the city and mountains.

(When writing about Las Vegas, I have to mention indoor air quality in the public areas of the hotels:
MGM Grand: The strong smoke and fake raspberry scent pumped in to mask it, is enough to keep you from spending too much time there.  In the same vein, I visited the Venetian Resort last night - on my way to Bouchon - and the fragrance/air freshener in the lobby almost had me running right back out the revolving door.  I pressed on and thankfully, the air freshener was not noticeable in the area in and around the restaurant, Bouchon.  The Bellagio is pleasant and as the day progresses, it's the smoke that will bother you, not the fragrance.  I award the "best air quality within a casino" status to Mandalay Bay.  Breathing felt clean and pleasant and I couldn't "taste" any perfume/air freshener.  Those sensitive to scent and smoke, beware in Las Vegas.) 

The water fountain show (on the half hour, daily, and every 15 minutes, starting at 8 o c'lock) is spectacular and in sync with classical music.  It is a lovely way to enjoy a few minutes outside on a crisp Las Vegas night. I took a video on my phone and I will try to attach it here when I get home.  The temperature was approx 39-45 degrees at night, so bring a jacket and pashmina for a February visit.

I am just getting settled and have started taking photographs to bring you the latest on Las Vegas. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tweeting from an IT Conference

I thought that this was an absolutely genius idea.  As attendees checked into the HR2013 conference in Las Vegas, they were offered the chance to pick up an "I Tweet" adhesive banner.  If they were active on Twitter, they could attach the banner to their name badge and let people know that they tweeted on topics related to the conference as well as Human Resource IT concepts.

By wearing this little prompt, attendees could more easily identify, meet and "follow" industry leaders.  I told my husband that I wish I could wear an "I Tweet" badge in my daily life.  So many people are just beginning to participate on Twitter, but they don't know who to follow, other than celebrities.

I tweet "of the moment" ideas and photos from my daily life that can bring delight.  New products that I think are noteworthy, images from art exhibitions, beautiful photos of food.  Often they are something with a time constraint - a sale on something that usually isn't on sale.  A limited edition product that is in stores now etc.  I don't tweet every day, but I do share things when I think that they are valuable and interesting.

This post is my sticky badge saying: I tweet!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Capture A Moment

I was in Paris with my parents in 2005 and I was determined to take photographs that would jog our memory in years to come.  Images that were atmospheric.  

I see this photo and "poof!" I am at a table at Chez Fernand with my dad on my left and my mom right across from me.  We found this little gem as we wandered the streets near our hotel (Hotel d'Aubusson) on the left bank.  It is a classic little bistro with excellent food, warm atmosphere and kind service.  We were able to get in without a reservation and I vividly remember my beef bourguignon, served in an individual copper pot.

While I was in the most photographed city in the world, I also wanted to take pictures that would show my cigar box purses out and about.  I wanted to show how beautiful my purses looked when they were "out to dinner." 

The design and colors of original cigar boxes often led people to believe they needed to match their outfits to the unusual shades.  I rarely wear mustard yellow, but I love to use this vibrant purse (Cuesta Rey, shown here) as a "pop of color" when I am wearing a more classic color palette.  I am packing for a trip to Las Vegas and I'm having fun choosing which cigar box purses to bring along.

I'm hoping to capture even more beautiful moments next week. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lemon Souffle

When I see this picture, all I can hear is my aunt saying, "Take this! Oh, just look. Take this!"

I must admit, my mies en plas (French for "everything in it's place"), did look a bit like art against the blue counter.  The photo above is from my first try at lemon souffle, when my aunt was visiting us at the cottage. 

You see, lately I have been on a kick to try difficult recipes/cooking methods during the quiet times of my life.  My reasoning is that when a worthy occasion does arrive, I can make the appropriate dish with confidence.  An anniversary dinner? Souffle.  A Winter Ski Weekend? Chocolate pot de creme. 

I don't want to wing it when it counts.  I want some practice.  So today, I give you individual lemon souffles.
I'm sure my dear Facebook friends thought that I was just being annoying, making souffles on a Wednesday, but I needed a second try at the recipe and measurements before I shared the recipe with you here.  Success!

Individual Lemon Souffles 

4 egg yolks, room temperature
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup white sugar (1/2 used in lemon mixture, 1/2 used in egg white whipping)
1 1/2 Tablespoons white flour
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest, finely grated (or more, I gave up after getting 1 Tablespoon worth)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (recipe) and 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (to butter ramekins)
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
loose white sugar to sprinkle into buttered ramekins

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter 4 ramekins (I'm using Emile Henry) and then coat each dish with white sugar, turning dish to move sugar around.  Set the ramekins onto a cookie sheet.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk egg yolks, half of the 1/3 cup white sugar, flour and zest.  Stop mixer.  Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn on the mixer and whisk constantly as you slowly stream the hot milk into the yolk mixture.  Whisking and doing this slowly prevents the yolk from cooking in the hot milk.  Now pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook (whisking with a hand whisk constantly) until the mixture is thick like pudding.  Strain this hot mixture through a sieve into a large bowl (to remove any cooked bit or lumps).  Stir in lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of softened butter.  Set aside.

In a clean stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites.  After the foamy stage, slowly stream in the remaining white sugar.  Beat until peaks form, but it is not dry.  Stir about a cup of the whites into the lemon yolk mixture with a rubber spatula.  Fold in the rest of the whites - be sure to fold well.  

Divide batter between the 4 ramekins.  Gently smooth the top with spatula and run your finger around the inside rim, removing any batter.  This will allow the souffles to rise straight up without clinging to the rim. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Souffles will rise about an inch above the rim!  You can sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Anne Reeves, Entrepreneur and Maker

When I was applying for the first-ever Country Living magazine "Pitch Your Product" event (which ultimately led to me being chosen and honored as one of their Women Entrepreneurs) I needed to submit a bio. Whenever I turned to the end of a particularly good magazine article, it always said something along the lines of: "So-and-so lives in Connecticut with her husband, 2 children and beloved Golden Retriever, Sam." Yawn.

I mean really, is that any way to summarize a person? And since I don't have any children or pets, my "standard" bio was non-existent. I countered with this ridiculous, clear and possibly obnoxious (?) bio in my application.
Who is Anne Held Reeves?

A hip craftster who repurposes vintage tablecloths into aprons?


A fern-loving antiques dealer that lives & breathes Limoge boxes?


A devoted scrap-booker that makes 3-D murals of Disney vacations?


A Perrier drinking, cookie cutter collecting, photograph taking,

hydrangea loving, candy eating entrepreneur?


I have an imaginary magazine that allows me to photograph & design magazine covers & then build them into modern day bags made entirely of plastic & tape. They are fresh, durable and push graphics into fashion.

I also own a design company, ANA, that specializes in one-of-kind

cigar box purses, tin wallets & ANA Delight Totes. 

I knit, sew, glue, tape, plant, bake, buy, try, think, feel, and live like
I am starring in my own movie.

That is how I described myself and my business (before I started writing).  I couldn't put artist, because that conjures up images of paint and galleries. I couldn't put professional girl because that makes me sound crazy. I wanted to describe myself as a maker - someone that succeeds in making things in many categories, but my mom vetoed that on the spot. I think she thought it sounded odd and old fashioned. 

When I tried to explain to her how "maker" made sense by enumerating all of the things that I did (knit, sew, glue, tape, plant, bake, buy, try), my mom said "Bingo! That - say that!"...and I did. 

Why am I telling you all about this now?  Because I was just reading Fast Company magazine and a business was described as having "a maker attitude." 

With the growth of Etsy (a website selling handmade and one-of-a-kind items) and Pinterest (an online inspiration board showcasing designs to buy, recipes to try and projects to make), the term "maker" has become part of the American lexicon.  Finally.

That being said, now that I can change my bio, I don't think I will.  I mean, being able to put that I "live like I'm starring in my own movie" is pretty accurate and very fun.  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Poster Celebrating Individuality

Couldn't this be a poster to celebrate individuality or following your own path?

This one cloud caught my eye.  He just wasn't ready for the day to end and refused to turn apricot or otherwise.  I felt the same way.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Peter Anton, Box of Chocolates

How appropriate!  Here is a box of chocolates for you on Valentine's Day

An art gallery in Palm Beach is showcasing Peter Anton's oh-so-tempting artwork in their gallery this month.  Oversize but not overdone, these chocolates beg the question, "Which one would you choose?" 

I love that the artist left one paper cup empty, as if he couldn't resist eating one as he was preparing the sculpture for display.

You can read about Peter Anton (who has been called "Candy Warhol") in these online articles.  What a treat!

Happy Valentine's Day.  I hope you have been wearing red, eating chocolate and spreading the warmth and friendship of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day and that my posts from prior years (click "12 Days of Valentine's Day" in sidebar on top) have inspired you. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lavender Hibiscus

If only I lived in a different zone.  Plant Hardiness Zone, that is.  If I lived in a warmer climate I could have this lavender hibiscus in my garden and enjoy it year-round. *sigh*  I guess that is part of the allure of travel.  Being able to see and experience things that aren't possible in your own backyard (literally!).

I photographed this hibiscus at a farmer's market on Oahu (hybridized by The Hibiscus Lady). She is a color genius, don't you think?

Day 9 of the 12 days of Valentine's Day: Buy yourself some flowers for the kitchen table.  I arrived home from Florida this afternoon and found a bouquet of tulips on the table! That is what is fun about celebrating The 12 Days of Valentine's Day, you never know what is going to happen on any given day.  Most plans are arranged by you, but you may find that those around you get in the spirit!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pizza in Palm Beach

Having "Pizza in Palm Beach" is practically a tradition.  I've come here for lunch for the last three years and how anyone could pass up spending an hour in this gorgeous courtyard, I'll never know.  

This is Pizza al Fresco and their pizza is delicious.  We ate every bit of our margherita pizza and "small" mixed green salad.  The photo looks a little fuzzy to me - I'll upload it again when I get home; I promise it is a clear as a bell.

Today is Day 6 of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day - maybe tonight is the night to order a heart-shaped pizza!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chanel in Palm Beach

I love to go window shopping, especially on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.  The world's most luxurious labels can be found on this lovely palm-lined street. The window displays of ball gowns, jewels and accessories are some of the prettiest I've seen. 

The Chanel window was my favorite (wouldn't it make a great poster?) and since I have been wearing a lot of Chanel No. 5 lately, it seems appropriate.  I was on a Chanel (the woman) kick a few years ago and I was renting movies about her and reading a novels about her life.  
My husband was inspired and decided to get me Chanel No. 5 for my birthday.  I had never worn her perfume, but I knew the story of Chanel No. 5 from my "research" (read for yourself in the link above) and I really loved the scent right from the first day.  It was later that my mom told me it was what her mother wore.  I love that.
Day 5 of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day: Spritz on some perfume!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paper Garden

This is an optical illusion for sure.  You are looking at a paper water garden (complete with koi fish!) in Ray Marshall's magnificent book, Paper Blossoms.  It was given to my mother and she brought it along with her to Florida so that they could have flower arrangements any time they wanted.

Book is contains 5 perfect pop-up bouquets.  It is a masterpiece, really.  I can only imagine the vision and determination it takes to get an intricate book like this produced.  Each morning during my visit, I come out into the family room and see a bouquet open on the table.  This lily pond is a favorite.
On this 4th day of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day, go buy some Valentines and send them off to those who would love a surprise in their mailbox.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hand-Dipped Beeswax Tapers

Isn't this beautiful! I stopped in my favorite bee-inspired store, Bedazzled (in Benzie County) this Summer and behind the counter was this display.  Except it isn't a display at all, this is simply a rack that allows candles to set/cure after making them. 

The shop girl had just finished dipping these outstanding beeswax tapers.  The scent was heavenly and I bought some (that were packaged and ready) on the spot.  When I asked her if I could take this photo, she quickly and casually blurted out, "Sure!"  To her, this display represented a job well done.  To me, it was as beautiful as art.

For this third day of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day, why don't you delight in candlelight this evening.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Punch Embroidery

Can you say darling?  I love to make all kinds of things.  Sometimes I mold chocolate, sometimes I knit, sometimes I decoupage vases.  A little of this, a little of that.  And often when I see a new kind of project, particularly if it involves colors of yearn or thread, I have to try it.  I had honestly never heard of punch embroidery before I saw a kit for this Colonial-style house at a quilt shop.  The kit contained the fabric printed with the design, a paper instruction guide and the necessary thread.  I bought a punch needle tool too.  I have only made this project so far, but it was really relaxing and fun.  

When I saw the kit, I immediately thought "dollhouse rug!"  The finished piece is approximately 2 x 3 inches.  Now that I have finished it, I really want it to be seen.  You see, my dollhouse family just doesn't have company often enough to make me want to leave it there.  I don't want to put this rug in front of my dollhouse fireplace and then turn out the lights and close the door.

I think that it could look really sweet with a narrow mat and old fashioned dull gold frame.  Perhaps it will become something that I can keep on the piano?  I just love it and I want to be able to see it.  Have you ever tried punch embroidery? 

Day 2 of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day:  Feel like crafting a little something for someone?  I made my mom a necklace!

Mad Magazine Movie

Did you or your kids love MAD magazine? Is it possible that it brought you delight?  I myself wasn't a reader, but I think this film project documenting the history and effect of Mad magazine is worth mentioning to you. 
My good friend Alan Bernstein is producing/directing a documentary film honoring MAD magazine. He has already filmed 20 interviews with the original writers/creators - the movie trailer is in the link below.
He has a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund his movie. People around the world can donate a little as $10 to help him reach his goal.  He has five days left in his Kickstarter campaign (he's already received $30,000 in pledges) and if he doesn't reach his goal of $50,000, none of the pledges will be collected. Consider sharing this information with those who loved MAD magazine too - maybe they want to be a part of getting this film produced. 
I am impressed when someone follows their dreams.  Alan's dream is to make a documentary honoring the artists and writers that brought him issue after issue of laughter and happiness.  Isn't that delight?
Good luck, Alan!

*2/9/13 Make that "Congratulations, Alan!" The project has been funded!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

12 Days of Valentine's Day 2013

Hip hip hooray! The 12 Days of Valentine's Day are finally here. This is a wonderful time of year to do the little extra things that make life nice...and you get to do it all in honor of Valentine' Day. For the next 11 days leading up to Valentine's Day show your love for family and friends in a way that feels right to you.

I have collected all of my Valentine's blog posts from prior years and linked to them in the top of the blog sidebar.  You can click as you wish and read suggestions and see photos about celebrating the 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  After all, love is timeless.

Set the table with red placemats, put a heart-shaped paper doily under a dish of pudding, wear pink. It's up to you. And if someone comments about your actions ( or compliments your heart-shaped necklace), tell them it is for the 12 Days of Valentine's day.

Today, I am buying a bag of pink and red wrapped Hershey kisses to put in a glass bowl for the coffee table. We all need a little (or 6!) bites of chocolate. The photo is the chocolate fountain at Jean-Philippe patisserie within the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

I'm on vacation this week, so I will be posting about other topics, but I will close each day with a 12 Days of Valentine's Day suggestion. Have fun!