Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Travels With Flowers

I should be packing.  We are heading up north for the weekend, but instead of assembling my shoes, shirts and socks, I have gathered some roses, snapdragons and lantana.  Can you blame me? 
Long ago Dan said that my Native American name would be "Travels With Flowers."  I just can't leave a beautiful (and perishable) thing behind.  So now that I have made some bouquets fresh from the garden, I can concentrate on the more mundane items on my list, like my laptop, camera, phone and chargers.  I'm packing it all up so that I can bring you delight on the road...

Now, who wants to pack the cooler?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Craft Show Find: Upcycled Grocery Notebooks

I saw them and I had to have them.  Grocery Notebooks.  I kid you not.  I was at the Leland Art Show last month and I wandered into Laura Wright's booth (she doesn't have a website now, but if I ever get it, I'll link to it here. Her phone is 231-624-0090, if you want to ask about upcoming shows).

Her focus is on paper goods and accordion scrapbooks, but she has started dabbling in these grocery notebooks.  The best possible upcycling, as far as I'm concerned.  She has taken the front and back of cereal boxes, cracker boxes and artisanal beer 6-packs (genius) and used the art of the packaging to make spiral bound notebooks.

She had me at the Rice Krispies (only $1 for the notebook!), but I soon started handing her more and more.  My mom was drawn to the sand dune water scene and insisted I get it to keep by the phone in my kitchen.  She was right, of course, it looks beautiful there and reminds me of Sleeping Bear dunes.  Notice that this was a 2-pack.  A narrow pocket notebook is displayed on top, mirroring the scene, and held in place by rubber bands.

You never know when you will find an artist that is doing something beautiful...and interesting.  Keep your eye out.  Laura Wright, bravo! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Laundry Manangement

We all have to make time for laundry.  And when I am home, I feel a great sense of accomplishment when the dishwasher and washing machine are running at the same time.  Gives us just enough time to stir the soup and read a magazine, right?

Years ago, I made myself a "hangs on a hanger" cotton multi-pocket organizer. I love it and it hangs on the hook by the garage door, filled with mittens, garden shears, a ball of twine and assorted objects. 

I don't have time to make another one (it took me what felt like hours on the sewing machine for the last one), but I wanted the same concept to work in my tiny laundry room.  So I bought a clear pocket shoe organizer (one that is intended to hang over a door with hooks) and I hung it on 3 nails in the wall, hidden behind the laundry room door.  Needless to say, I love it!  

And while I'm on the subject of laundry, that blue Oxiclean Laundry Spray just got green paint/gum out of my white pants - a miracle, to say the least.  

Do you need some laundry management?  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hudson and Mohawk Valley View

I've been on an adventure in upstate New York.  This incredible view is from the Helderberg Escarpment in Albany and is compliments of Uncle Bob and Aunt Jan, who drove us to this spectacular vista to help us get a sense of where we were.  What a day!  

I am just home now and pulling together all of my thoughts to pour into the blog.  Stay tuned for paint, art and goats.  I'm serious!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Leelanau Peninsula: Hearth and Vine at Black Star Farms

It is the Hearth and Vine Cafe's Blueberry Salad with pea shoots, baked ricotta cheese, honey, candied pecans and chive blossom verjus.  If you read that description, wouldn't you order it?  They had me at verjus.

It was lovely, and fresh, and tasted like summer on a plate.  I recommend ordering this beautiful salad (plus one of their wood fired pizzas) and then find a table out on the patio.  

After lunch, walk over to the tasting room to sample wines from the Black Star Farms vineyard.  When you've made your choices, walk outside and around to the back of the building and visit Leelanau Cheese. You can buy the freshest cheese around to go with the wine for tomorrow's dinner.  
See, aren't you having fun?  This is the Leelanau Peninsula at its best.    

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Swan and Water Lily

I drove over to a public dock to see if I could get close enough to photograph some water lilies in bloom.  I think I was just a few days too early; I expect that these yellow blooms will open and spread out after a bit more time in the sun. The scene was beautiful, though, and I loved the watery reflection of the reeds on the surface.  

I was about to leave when I noticed...
A mother and father swan taking their 5 kids out for a swim after dinner!  It was so sweet, I only wish they were closer.  I was really pushing my "zoom" and the quality suffered, but at least you can see them, happy and relaxing in their natural habitat.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Refreshing Summer Soup

Okay, so my mint leaf was disproportionately large in relation to the bowl, but other than that, this Summer Soup is perfect!

I combined a 46 oz bottle of Kern's Apricot Nectar with a 15 oz bottle of Naked Mighty Mango juice in a large glass bowl.  Then I added a bag of frozen sliced peaches, still frozen.  As they thaw, they chill the soup - genius, if I do say so myself.  Add a variety of chopped fruits in very small cubes.  This time I chopped up pieces of frozen mango, fresh watermelon and Fuji apple. 

Allow the soup to meld (and the peaches to defrost) and serve with a leaf of fresh mint.  This is a no-fail recipe.  The cold refreshing liquid dotted with crunchy apple and silky mango will delight any audience.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Fruits Make Luscious Jam

The color and arrangement of these Summer fruits called me from across the farmer's market.  I wove my way through the crowd so that I could get a closer look.  Stunning! Do you feel the same way? I picked up a carton of the black raspberries to make a quick batch of jam, reminiscent of the one I'd make with my grandmother's berries each summer.

Do you remember this story of when I met the women staying in the cottage next door to the one that had been my grandmother's?  It still makes me smile.

Today I am mixing the black raspberries with some sugar and a packet of freezer jam pectin.  It will turn breakfast into a sweet walk down memory lane.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Paint When You Can

There is nothing quiet as relaxing as painting.  My mom and I always make time to paint when we are at the cottage, we sit on the patio or in the garden and try to make something beautiful (and recognizable) with our new palette of paint. Did you notice what I'm mixing paint in?  An empty egg carton tray!  Often organic eggs come in these wonderful clear trays at the grocery store (even The Merc!) and I always save them to upcycle into art trays or bead holders.

I found this set of acrylic paint tubes at Homegoods for $3.99, including 2 paint brushes!  I also bought a 3-pack of canvas panels (4 x 6) that were on sale for 40% off at Michaels, so I think each panel cost about a dollar.  With supplies this reasonable, why wouldn't you try and experiment with painting?  

You see, I have a weakness for art supplies and usually can't resist the beautiful and reasonable watercolor sets that you can buy at Michaels. Have you seen them? I buy a new one every year and get the same feeling as you get from a new box of crayons.  Love it!

Let me be clear.  I really don't know how to paint.  I copy what I can with dabs of color and blurs of water.  I think it is fun and give myself a lot of poetic license.  I also throw away the ones that don't work out.  It makes me feel better to never see it again.    

This painting was inspired by an impressionist piece I saw in a photo.  The farther away you are from my version, the better it looks. Ha!  

I am planning on taking it to Michaels Craft store to find scrapbook paper to make into a pretty mat. Then I'll frame it, hang it on the wall in my office.  It will always remind me of a beautiful summer afternoon I spent with my mom.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ribbon Based Flower Arranging

This ribbon and I have been waiting through three seasons for this moment. My Honey Dijon rose is blooming again and the plant is producing bouquets worth of blooms.  Up to this point, I have only been getting single buds, which I have happily tucked into larger arrangements, but now she is hitting her stride and I am getting great bundles of roses at once.  

Remember my (now internet famous) photo of a sweep of Honey Dijon roses?  You can't look for a Honey Dijon online without coming across my picture.  I am very proud of that, someone has to show the world delight, right?

Today's post is to remind you that sometimes your actions can be ribbon-driven. I had a lovely and unusual rose and I sought out ribbon that would make it sing. Now my beautiful 1/2 yard helps me make the most of this rose and it is just as important as a great throw pillow or good lighting.  Design is everywhere and this is an example of how having a master plan in your life can help you find the beauty of everyday moments.

This is my living room on a Thursday morning.  It makes me feel as good as it looks.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

At The Cottage wooden stamp

I am a modern girl (email, Facebook, Twitter) that still runs to the mailbox each day in hopes of receiving a letter.  I know that I am not alone.   
I also have a weakness for stationary, cute return address labels and stickers. My stash of writing materials could practically count as a collection.  Notecards with tea cups for my Victoria-loving friends.  Notecards with Nancy Drew book covers for the readers in my life.  Barefoot Contessa recipe/note cards for the foodies.  If you're a girl, I've got you covered.

When I was browsing the wooden stamps section at the craft store (just for fun, I don't normally use stamps), I saw this "Sailboat Bay" stamp by Stampendous. I instantly knew that I wanted to stamp all of my outgoing mail this summer.  I like to think of my friends having a moment of delight when they find actual mail in their mail box.

What would say I'm "at the cottage" more than a stamp that looks a lot like Leland harbor.  Isn't that a fun idea?  I have been stamping everything in sight and I think it looks really cute.

The next time you write a note to your friend or send a birthday card, consider jazzing the envelope up with a stamp.  It's a light-hearted way to say its from you.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Leelanau Peninsula: Go for a beach walk

Everyone can benefit from some time on their own.  The cottage life can be a noisy life and a 30 minute walk on the beach can reset the calm and energize you for the next bit of fun.

When you are on the shore of Lake Michigan in the Leelanau peninsula, your walk might take you past a few petoskey stones, if you're lucky.  The petoskey stone is a rock composed of fossilized coral and it can only be found in the upper peninsula and certain areas of the northwestern lower peninsula of Michigan.  The stone has tiny circular lines of coral that are most apparent when wet.  There is a even a Petoskey Stone Festival that is now in its eighth year - I bet you could find a lot of jewelry in the artist booths there.

Petoskey stones are beautiful when polished and many local artisans polish and drill them to create jewelry, a bit like a regional flag.  If you recognize this as a petoskey stone (Michigan's State Stone), then you know where I come from.  As a child, we rubbed petoskey stones with Vaseline to make the pattern appear and the sheen would keep the pattern visible for days.

So keep your eyes out on your beach walk.  You never know when you'll find a little piece of Michigan's history.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Breakfast at Martha's Leelanau Table in Suttons Bay

One of the things I love about summer is meeting friends for breakfast at Martha's Leelanau Table.  During the year, it isn't realistic to think that we can meet for a leisurely breakfast; our schedules just don't allow for it.  Yet when friends of mine are on vacation out on the Leelanau peninsula (Suttons Bay, Leland, Northport, Glen Arbor), it is the "breakfast" time slot that makes a lot of sense for us to get together. 

Their children are still asleep or puttering around the house with dad having pancakes and the big plans for the day (dune climb, boating) are scheduled for later in the day.  My friends know that I am in Leland for big chunks of the summer and call me to meet up for a visit and some one-on-one chats.
I always suggest Martha's Leelanau Table because the food is delicious, the atmosphere is bistro-like and we can usually score a table on the garden patio outside.  Who doesn't enjoy eating breakfast al fresco?

I like their huevos rancheros (corn tostada with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, black beans, Martha's salsa and sour cream) and on this particular morning I had Dan with me, so we split an order of cherry bread french toast (french toast made with cherry bread and served with cherry preserves 
and Leelanau maple syrup) too.  Yum yum yum yum yum.

The next time you are on vacation within reach of a good friend, put "Meet (insert name) for breakfast" on your list of things to do.  Somewhere after "go kayaking" and "eat S'mores."  You'll make a whole different kind of vacation memory. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Edible Flowers Make the Cake

Edible flowers turn a simple lemon cake into something that makes any old day of the week feel special.  This is the intersection where gardener meets gourmet.

Today I went to the farmer's market in Leland, Michigan and I met a sweet couple from Eureka Farms selling small bags of edible flowers.  

When I head to a small town farmer's market, I expect to see cherries, honey, soap, onions.  Edible Flowers?  You could have knocked me over with a nasturtium.
I immediately told them that I love decorating salads and sweets with edible flowers and that they were hard to come by.  And yes, I assured her that I not only decorate with the flowers, but I also eat them with abandon.  

The woman was so pleased that I was a kindred spirit and fellow flower-eater that we started chatting about our edible floral experiences.  I told her about eating daylilies with cheese piped into the blossom.  She told me that she once brought edible flowers to a party and a friend said, "I thought you were a vegetarian!"  She didn't understand the joke until her friend showed her a spider hiding under one of the petals. Ha!

She pointed out that she brings flyers on "eating edible flowers" to convince shoppers that it is indeed safe and enjoyable.  When I told her that I would include a post about her flowers in my blog about "things that bring a moment of delight" she was tickled.  The shock was that I had already featured her flowers before!  And I mean, HER flowers.

Remember this post on edible flowers that I wrote in 2009?  I bought the edible flowers in that photo from "The Ugly Tomato" farm stand on M22, just West of Lime Lake Road (next to Michigan Traders).  I found out today that the edible flowers at The Ugly Tomato are from her garden at Eureka Farms.  She was pleased to know that people all over the world have admired her flowers through my blog post.  That particular photo is one of my most popular online.  

So tonight I made a simple lemon cake, glazed it with lemon icing and covered it with edible flowers.  It was almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Leelanau Peninsula is Cherry Country

I am in cherry country!  I had to pull off the road on my way back from the lavender farm to photograph these cherries hanging from the trees.  They looked too good to be true.  Aren't they beautiful?
It seems like every branch of every tree is loaded with bright red cherries.
And I mean loaded - look at the tree above! 

There is a whirl of data about the benefits of eating tart cherries and while they are great in a pie (try my recipe here), I have found a way to add them to my diet that is more daily than dessert.

My source for adding a bit of cherry year round is Michelle's Miracle.  She makes a tart cherry concentrate that I keep in my refrigerator and can add a tablespoon to my daily drink of sparkling water mixed with a few inches of cranberry juice.  It's refreshing and it makes me feel like I am doing something wonderful for my all of my cells.  It's not scientific, but I like it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Leelanau Lavender Breezes in Leelanau County

The Lavender is blooming on the Leelanau Peninsula!  Leelanau Lavender Breezes is a lavender-based business that has opened a farm stand selling their lavender products and fresh cut bouquets every Friday and Saturday from 10-3 in July.  You'll know they're open by the white sign they put out on the road where Kilwy Road meets County Road 651 (Good Harbor Trail) in Cedar, Michigan.

Leelanau Lavender Breezes sells their products at the Glen Arbor and Leland farmer's market, as well as in a few local shops. While I own a few of their culinary products, I had never been to their beautiful lavender farm.  I didn't even know that they were planning on opening a stand at the farm, but when I mentioned lavender to my mom she immediately referred to the sign that was just put out on County Rd 651.  Moms know everything, right?  
Since the stand was open for another hour, we hopped in the car and went in hopes of finding lavender that was ready to harvest into bouquets.  When I opened the car door, the scent of lavender was everywhere.  I didn't need the sign to confirm that I had found the right barn.  

We were greeted by owner, Penny Spencer's darling daughter and spent the next little while admiring their beautiful selection of culinary lavender, formal bath soaps and drawer/dryer sachets at the farm stand they have set up in their barn.  I have a container of their Chef's Finishing Essence in my cupboard at home and I like to sprinkle it on grilled chicken or steamed green beans.  

When it was time to cut the bouquets, we followed our young charge into the lavender field and took photos while she expertly cut our bouquets.  She was just wonderful. 

Two varieties of lavender are in bloom right now (more are expected to open in the coming weeks) and we bought bouquets of each.  Another darling daughter packaged our purchases with care in purple tissue and a bag; she's too young for the clippers, but she handled the gift wrapping with ease.
I was able to meet Penny in the lower level of the barn where she was distilling fresh lavender into a spray called hydrosol.  This family is committed to a life of delight - bringing the visual, edible and aromatic benefit of lavender to their customers in northern Michigan and beyond.  I feel relaxed already.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beehive Blondies, Butterscotch Cookies

I have wanted to make some natural honey-like cookies that would look beautiful as bee skeps.  I considered gingerbread, but that tastes too much like December.  It finally dawned on my that I could use my Heavenly Bites cookie recipe to make some Beehive Blondies.

Heavenly Bites Butterscotch Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter (or use vegetable spray) and flour a rimmed cookie sheet. In a mixing bowl, beat melted butter and brown sugar together. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix. Pour the batter onto a cookie sheet and smooth it out.  It should cover about 2/3 of the pan. You are basically making very thin brownies.  

Bake at 350 degrees for approx 15-18 minutes, depending on your oven.  Cookie base should have some "give" when pressed.  If you allow it to bake until crisp, you won't be able to cut out shapes.

Cool until just warm, cut out beehive and bee shapes to enjoy with a friend. Yum!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Little Patchwork Gardens

My mom had the cute idea to plant a collection of dianthus in different shades and patterns in a section of her garden.  It's a little bit blurred now from growth, but can you see how the variety of colors and patterns look like a quilt? 
She wants you to know that it is not finished; her plan is to expand it around the edges with more plants.  So cute!

I've thought about doing the same thing with herbs.  I normally plant mine in a strawberry pot, but would love to plant an area with stripes and squares of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  The height and color variations would make a lovely pattern.

I think it is important to always be on the lookout for opportunities that delight.  I read about the Amish Quilt Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana and I'm hoping to photograph them sometime when I drive over to see my friend, Barb.  (Are you listening Barb? Put on your thinking cap!)

Have you heard about gardens designed to look like quilt blocks?  There are gardens planted in quilt patterns all over Elkhart and they are open to the public to tour and photograph for free from June - October.  I think it is a delightful way to have fun with annuals, don't you?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Irresistible Fruit Dip

When I make a dish for a crowd, I like to come up with something that is irresistible.  You know a dish is just that when you watch people taking turns to dip their skewered banana, strawberry or pineapple chunk into a bowl of orange pudding dip.  This cold fruit dip was introduced to the family by my grandmother more than forty years ago.  

This dip is best served in a separate bowl next to fruit-filled pineapple halves.  Guests are to spear a piece of fruit (pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe, banana) with a toothpick and dip it in the orange pudding and then eat it.  The dip goes fast and my family stands around the bowl, spearing-dipping-eating until the beloved dip is gone. 

This year I added green grapes to the fruit salad and most of them were still left in the pineapple shell when the last dollop of dip was gone.  We were laughing that the grapes probably weren't popular because, in terms of fruit real estate, they would hold the least amount of dip when dunked.    

The recipe isn't scientific.  Add and subtract amounts to suit you, but remember that the goal is to make a dip that will cling to the fruit.  The dip will thicken a little more in the refrigerator.

Irresistible Orange Fruit Dip

2 boxes (5.1 oz) box Jell-O INSTANT vanilla pudding (*1 box is a backup, but lately I've added all of it to make really thick dip)
1 cup cold orange juice
1 cup cold milk (2% preferred)
1 cup sour cream

With an electric mixer, beat 1 box of instant pudding mix with orange juice, milk and sour cream until thick.  If the mixture seems too thin, sprinkle in more pudding from the second "reserve" box of pudding to help restore the thickness.  Chill in refrigerator until cold and thick, at least an hour.  Serve with fresh fruit and toothpicks.  And stand back.      

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July! 
May your summer be as bright and festive as these fireworks. xo Anne

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Best Strawberry Freezer Jam

When life gives you strawberries...make freezer jam!  Ball has made it easy with a no-fail instant pectin that requires only sugar, strawberries and love.  
I wash my jars, lids and screw caps in the dishwasher.  I washed and hulled strawberries and put them in my food processor. I used short bursts of power to "mash" the fruit into jam consistency.  I mix 1 envelope or equivalent from a jar of freezer jam instant pectin (note that this jar has a purple accented label) with 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  Stir in 4 cups of smashed fruit.  Stir for 3 minutes.  Ladle into clean jars.  Leave the filled jars at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place in refrigerator for consumption within a few days or in freezer for up to 3 months. 
My parents and I worked in an assembly line and made 5 batches of strawberry jam with 6 quarts of strawberries in about an hour.  We have been having toast and jam every morning ever since. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Leelanau Peninsula: Painted Furniture Artist Dona Kelly

I have long admired northern Michigan artist Dona Kelly and this is the perfect time to put her in the spotlight.  Her signature style is blending uplifting phrases with locally-inspired illustrations on furniture and mirrors.  She was recently commissioned to make a "Leland" piece for the entrance to the newly remodeled Leland Lodge.  In a word, it is spectacular.
She has brought a map of Leland to life on a beautiful sideboard with drawers ( the drawers to see more images inside!).  If you have ever walked the streets of this charming town on the shores of Lake Michigan, you will feel right at home.
She has the Leland River winding past the Riverside Inn, the library, the Merc and over the dam to into historic Fishtown, just like you remember.  
I feel like this will become "the art to visit" for generations to come - a trip wouldn't be the same without spending a few minutes studying the map.  I know that young and old will enjoy finding their favorite stores, locating where their cottage is or pointing out where they had a picnic.  This is art reflecting life in the best possible way.
If you love this piece like I do, you can contact Dona Kelly to get something for yourself!  Her email is  She will also be selling her upbeat collection at the Leland Artist Market at the Old Art Building on July 13, 2013 from 10-5pm.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Martha Stewart Spotlights Leelanau Peninsula

Martha Stewart Living magazine is touting what we've known for years...the Leelanau Peninsula is the place to be in the summertime.  Have you noticed that many of Martha's picks have already been spotlighted in my blog?

I've written about:
Good times!  Martha Stewart has directed everyone to some great spots - but she barely scratched the surface!  I am looking forward to another wonderful summer here on the Leelanau Peninsula.  Stay tuned for photographs and stories highlighting the best of the best.  And look in my "City Series" section in the right hand sidebar - I have my "Leland" and "Leelanau Peninsula" posts there.  

To see Martha's list, look at this online article (a companion to the July issue of Martha Stewart Living).