Friday, August 30, 2013

Beekman Boys Are Married And Coming to a City Near You

The night we had dinner together (July 26)  happened to be Josh and Brent's one-month wedding anniversary.  We weren't at the wedding, but at least we could toast this first married milestone. Josh was at our wedding twenty-one years ago and it was so fun to reminisce.

After the success of their first cookbook, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, which is loaded with beautiful photographs and wonderful family recipes, Josh and Brent have written the much anticipated cookbook on Heirloom Desserts!  

Butter and sugar and eggs, oh my!  They are about to embark on a book tour and I look forward to seeing them in Lansing, Michigan, near our beloved Michigan State University, where Josh and I went to college. Are they coming to a city near you? Check their schedule here.
Josh and Brent were married at their farm on June 28, 2013 and Martha Stewart took some beautiful photos of the big event and blogged all about it here in The Martha Blog. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Polka Spot at Beekman Boys Farm and Goats Galore

I have a dear friend who loves watching the Beekman Boys on The Cooking Channel (who doesn't?).  But she is not an internet girl and she doesn't follow their life and career on Facebook or Twitter.  Her perception of them is frozen in time, if you will, bound by the episodes filmed on their farm in Sharon Springs.

So when I told her that I was going to visit my friends (who happen to be The Fabulous Beekman Boys) at their farm in New York, she had one request.  "I just want to know that the llama's okay."

THE llama is named Polka Spot and she has quite a following of her own.  The picture above shows her happy and healthy, eating hay and showing off the new haircut she got for Josh and Brent's wedding.  I printed this photo of Polka Spot for my friend and I'm sure that it's up on her frige.
These are some of the goats that were curious about our visit.  

When we toured the barn, I was happy that we had a chance to meet John, the goat farmer. I "know" him from the television show and wanted to give him my best in person.  He was busy milking the goats and tending to their every need. 
These are the goats that produce the milk for the very fabulous soaps and cheeses that the world is buzzing about.  Here is an excerpt from Vogue urging the beauty-minded to head to Sharon Springs and buy their goat milk soap.
I made an impromptu cheese board when we got home from our trip.  We lovingly traveled back to Michigan with a wheel of Beekman 1802 BLAAK and put simply, I-LOVE-IT.  I served it with a variety of crackers and a cube of honey comb, along with a spreadable goat cheese/lemon curd combination from Idyll Farms in northern Michigan.  The dinner that followed paled in comparison, that's for sure. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beekman 1802 Ice Cream Social in Sharon Springs

I am never one to miss a party.  Add ice cream to the docket and I'm there for sure!  It just so happened that the Beekman Boys planned an ice cream social at their store, Beekman 1802 Mercantile in Sharon Springs, New York for the same weekend that we were visiting!

Here we are with my dear friend, Josh.  You've already read in earlier posts about how we have been friends since our days at Michigan State University.  It was great to be together again.
Josh and Brent introduced Beekman 1802 ice cream (made with cow and goat milk) to their line of Beekman 1802 products this summer.  We were happy to join the party and devour these cartons of artisanal tart cherry almond and orchid vanilla ice cream. Townspeople and customers alike gathered on the steps of the Beekman mercantile and socialized. We agreed that nothing tastes as good as cold ice cream on a warm summer night.  It was a little like Mayberry and I loved every minute of it.

Thank you, Josh and Brent, for hosting some old-fashioned fun. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beekman 1802 Mercantile & Mortgage Lifter Ad on The Super Bowl

As a girl that has dreamed of owning a general store (dollhouse size one at the very least!), it warmed my heart to step inside the beautiful Beekman 1802 mercantile in Sharon Springs, New York.  The fact that this old fashioned concept has been recreated by my two friends and filled to the brim with items inspired by life on their farm, made my visit all the more sweet.   
Naturally I have been buying their fabulous Beekman 1802 products online for years, but I must admit, that the store ambiance, selection and tasting bar made me want one of everything they offer x 3!  In fact, Brent teased me about having to replenish the shelf of "Blaak Drizzle" after I loaded 4 bottles into my basket.  It is a concoction of balsamic, fig and elderberry that I drizzle on everything from meats to salads and back again.  I was smart enough to buy an extra bottle to keep at the cottage too, so I'll never be without. 

So, yes, these are my friends, and yes, I want them to succeed, but I am writing about their store and products because they are unique, delicious and truly bring delight.  There is no question about that.  So I thought it would be fun to show you pictures of the store and tell you which products in particular that I love. 

First I must start with their goat milk soaps, because that is where it all began. Beekman 1802 started with their now famous goat milk soaps.  Their selection of natural soaps are named (and scented) based on the 12 months on the farm.  
When my friends at home asked me to bring them "a little something" from the store, I chose the month of July soap (since I was visiting in July) for each of them.   The Beekman 1802 July soap has a fragrance "inspired by a walk through the Beekman 1802 Herb Garden with hints of thyme, mint, and more tasty summer favorites."  It was a hit!  They all loved it.

I bought myself a bar of "After The Garden: Tart Cherry Pit" soap to keep with a bowl of water on my potting table. I will use it to clean up after I've spent time in the garden.  The ground cherry pits are to help loosen the dirt and the cherry scent is fresh and lovely.
The store has a lit showcase in the wall (above) to display a product as the work of art that it is.  When I was visiting, the "Summer" bar of soap was in the spotlight.
This is a display (above) of the "Good Neighbor Pie Kit," which is a set of 3 heavy duty metal pie tins stamped with Beekman 1802.  The intent is to encourage the baking and giving of homemade pies by creating a good-looking, yet reasonable a pie tin that the baker can feel good about giving away.  

I love this idea.  The funny thing was that when I showed these pictures to my mom, she saw these pie tins and proclaimed, "That's what I want!"  Really? She doesn't bake.  But mine is not to question why.  I've added a set of pie tins to my next online order, just for her.
This photograph shows a bit of the delicious and inspirational "Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce".  Have you heard about this sauce?  Josh and Brent won the Amazing Race last year (didn't I mention that?). Watch the Albany news station's broadcast (below) to see the announcement that the Beekman Boys had won $1 million dollars on The Amazing Race. It's a great synopsis.
Josh and Brent used their winnings to pay off their mortgage on the farm and this allowed Josh to leave his job in New York City and fulfill his dream of living on the farm full time.  The two also put some of the million dollars into starting a line of heirloom tomato products (using tomatoes from their farm and other farms) called the "Mortgage Lifter."  They in turn, have announced that "25% of the profits of this amazing sauce are donated to directly help struggling small American farmers."  Isn't that outstanding?  They are using their success to help others succeed.  I'm in.  Oh, and the sauce is wonderful.  Rich and flavorful.  I know that I will serve it for dinner again and again.  

***Want to help them sell more sauce and therefore help more American farms? Intuit is having a "Small Business/Big Game" contest for a small company to win an advertisement to be broadcast during the Super Bowl - click here and vote for Beekman 1802!

While I was in their store in Sharon Springs, I also bought "Spring Harvest Honey" - yum! I have some of their "Rosemary Creamed Honey" at home that I serve often when I make a cheese tray, so I thought a classic pure honey would be a good next step.  I was right.

So...can you tell that my luggage was packed to the brim?!  I was so happy to support my friends and have lots of new products to enjoy. Shopping at Beekman 1802 is a win-win, all day long.  If you would like to see more of Josh and Brent's world, be sure to visit their webpage and look for their tv show "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" on The Cooking Channel.  It will be time well spent. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Anne Reeves at the Beekman 1802 Farm

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Anne Reeves at the Beekman 1802 farm.

I finally made it to upstate New York to visit my friends, Josh and Brent at their farm in Sharon Springs.  I have known Josh since college, where we were English majors at Michigan State University.  I was part of a close knit group of friends (Josh, Tracy, Kerry, Me) and I don't think a day went by that I didn't see them.  We are all still good friends, but life has us living in separate parts of the country and our "visits" are more often on the phone, than in person (though I do get to see Tracy next month!).  

Over time, Dan and I have become friends with Josh's husband, Brent too and we try to see each other whenever we go to New York or they come to Michigan on a book tour.  

We started planning this trip back in January and were so happy to be able to combine a visit to see Dan's relatives near Albany with a trip to see Josh and Brent and the world of Beekman 1802 that they've built in Sharon Springs.
This is their beautiful Beekman mansion on a picture perfect July day.  

Now we've come to the portion of this blog post where I get to rave about my friends. Maybe you know of them already, 
Josh and Brent are The Fabulous Beekman Boys.  I know, can you stand it?  

They are stars of a reality show on the Cooking Channel called "The Fabulous Beekman Boys." It revolves around how two Manhattanites leave the big city to work and live on a beautiful piece of property in a quiet New York town called Sharon Springs. The house (built by William Beekman in 1802), land and its history takes on a life of its own and eventually turns Josh and Brent into "accidental farmers" that create a lifestyle brand around products like goat milk soap, cheese and heirloom vegetables.  You can delve into their fascinating world and shop for all of their wonderful products online at Beekman 1802.

Is a show about a goat farm a little crazy? Yes. Is it a bit like "Green Acres?" You bet. But it is also light, charming, and a really fun blend of modern life with age old farming rules. Tweeting & pigs? Josh. Worried about having a clean farm? Brent. 

The show is full of love and nature and goats. The beautiful cinematography showcasing all four seasons on the farm alone makes it worth watching.  And my friends do indeed show the world what I've known all along...they are fabulous.  
So when Josh wanted to "show us around" the house and farm, we were technically walking around a television set.  Yes, this is the barn that houses all their beloved goats.  I must say, it was surreal (and wonderful) to visit my friends' home, after having seen it on national tv and in the pages of Country Living magazine.  It is a wonderful place to call home and since filming ended a while ago, the house and farm seem peaceful.  How could you not relax with a summer breeze blowing across the open landscape?
Josh and Brent have so many interesting aspects to their life and business and I want you to know them and support them, as I do.  I will share more about my visit to their mercantile soon.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Leelanau Peninsula: Light of Day Organic Tea Farm

When I heard that Leelanau County had an organic tea farm (the only one in Michigan), I knew right away that I wanted to visit.  Light of Day Organic Teas is just 8 miles West of Traverse City and is an easy drive from the cottage.  

Dan and I drove over on a steamy ninety-degree afternoon and ran into the owner, Angela Macke tending (and watering!) the plants, flowers and herbs that she grows for her organic teas.  On this large and breezy farm, there is a gazebo, yurt, hoop house (that's where the tea grows) and many many garden beds full of flowers.
Angela, a self-proclaimed tea-evangelist, told us about the tea bar inside the retail store and encouraged us to stay for a tea tasting ($6), if we had the time. A tea tasting was exactly what I was hoping for. At the time, four customers were in the middle of a tasting, so we had a few minutes to wander around before our tea tasting would begin.  

Angela invited us to explore her biodynamic farm and told us that we were welcome to relax and lay down on a bench in the yurt. The yurt is where Angela holds her tea classes and seems to be the spiritual center of the farm.
Now, I have never been offered a chance to lay down in a yurt, so I took her up on it.  Angela said that it is a quiet restorative space and that every once in a while she loves to take a moment to lay down and reflect.  I can attest that it is a great space.
Our guide for the tea tasting was Rosemarie - she is a treasure! She has an incredible working knowledge of the Light of Day teas and their biodynamic farming practices.  The tasting included an explanation of tea leaves, preparation, tea and wellness, along with a sampling of hot and cold teas.  

When I returned with a friend this week, I was a bit disappointed to learn that the tasting format had changed to a less formal instruction.  I can understand that the change was necessary.  At the height of the season, it would be very hard to give a 2-4-person instruction and tasting, while new customers entered the store continually needing customer service and sales help.  I feel lucky that we were able to hear Rosemarie give her whole spiel uninterrupted - she's a born teacher.  If you see her in the shop, ask her questions!   
On my first visit I bought a tin of Strawberry Ice (White Tea buds and leaves, Strawberry, Chamomile) and All Heart (Green Tea, Pink Rosebuds, Montmorency Cherry).  I like them both!

If you are interested in learning more about Light of Day Organic Teas, I encourage you to visit the farm (and their website!).  Also, watch the YouTube video they have posted in their "Press" section of their website.  You can see Angela explain her philosophy and get an overview of her tea farm.  It's wonderful.  If you have a chance to visit this interesting tea farm, do it!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Blog About Finding Delight

I thought today would be a good day to explain my philosophy of delight.  I just surpassed 1,800 blog posts and the accomplishment has brought out some great questions.  

Why do you blog?

I love being able to share my photos, thoughts and ideas. I strive to write reliable and informative content full of delightful images, ideas and recommendations.  I post five days a week, with one of my original photographs accompanying each post.  An executive once told me that success comes from passion and persistence.  I think my passion for things that delight (flowers, ice cream, entertaining, crafts, collecting, travel) can be recognized within each post.  I show my persistence by posting day-after-day, year-after-year, with the hope that my words and images will bring delight to someone at just the right moment.  I have over 10,000 people visit my blog each month, so I have a hunch I am on the right track.  I published my 3 books so that my readers could have a physical collection of my photos and suggestions to read and show their friends.  

How do I decide what I am going to write about?

I believe that "finding delight in everyday life" means looking for delight in a variety of places.  Accept an invitation to a jazz concert, order an unusual dessert, experiment with color in your sheets and pillowcases, grow herbs, try painting.  Can you see what I'm getting at?  You don't have to specialize in just growing bonsai trees or collecting stamps.  Dabble in a variety of things and see what speaks to you.  

As a result, each day in my blog is a surprise.  Sometimes you will get a recipe. Other days an anecdote.  And when I am traveling, I called it a "City Series" and I write a string of posts.  You can "come along" on my trip and see the shops, sweets and treats I found.  I label each post with the city or region, so that later you can go to the sidebar of the blog, find the "City Series" section and click "Atlanta" and read all of my posts from Atlanta.  At the absolute bottom of the blog (scroll down) you can see my other labels: "accessories", "Jell-O", "hydrangeas" - you name it! Click the topic you are interested in and all of the posts in that topic will appear on one page.  

How do I find my way around your blog? I don't understand what a blog is.

A blog is just like a webpage.  It has an address ( and you can visit it any time you want.  The most recent blog post appears at the top.  You can look in the sidebar and see links to visit my "Moments of Delight" Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest boards and Etsy store.  You can also use the SEARCH box to look for a particular post.  Click around and see what you can find.  You can't hurt anything, click away!  

If you want a reminder to read my blog, you can locate the "Follow Blog By Email" box in the sidebar of my blog and enter your email address.  Each new blog post will be emailed to you.

What rose is that?
This magnificent rose is called "Abraham Darby" by David Austin.  You see it here, blooming in my rose garden in southeastern Michigan.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Leelanau Peninsula: Idyll Farms: A Lucky Find

There is nothing like stumbling upon a new culinary delight a few hours before you need to bring something to a picnic!

I was finally able to visit the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City last Saturday.  Traverse City is becoming quite a mecca for foodies and I knew that I would be able to find the best-of-the-best from local growers and purveyors. 

My favorite find was this simple but delicious combination of fresh lemon curd topped with spreadable goat cheese from Idyll Farms.  Yum!  It has a sweetness from the lemon curd and a cool tang from the goat cheese that was perfect for a picnic.  I simply opened the container and put it on a bamboo plate with nasturtiums and crackers. 

It was a perfect light and fresh start to the annual Bar-B-Cruise picnic held by the Leland Yacht Club.  Every year members decorate their boats in a theme and parade past the judges for points and a chance at winning the Mermaid flag.  At night, 700+ people come together for a casual picnic dinner of ribs, meat, corn on the cob and more meat all cooked on site.  This is summer fun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Leland: The Blue Bird Patio

A new twist on a classic.  When you start talking about your upcoming trip to Leland, Michigan, it won't be long before some insists that you eat at The Blue Bird.  They are right; The Blue Bird's whitefish dinner (broiled, with lemon) is not to be missed.

The twist is that for the past two Summers, they have opened a patio on the Leland River.  They have a limited menu, but you can still have their famous whitefish, just hot off the grill!  It is the perfect place to have an easy dinner in the open air.  A vacation dinner without the reservation.  Bravo!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Notre Dame Stained Glass in Paris

There is something about this photograph that I just love.  I was in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, walking the inside perimeter with the other tourists, when I noticed that this window was open.  Did you ever imagine that a stained glass window could open?  I didn't!  

I stopped to take this photograph.  I can get lost in thought, staring at the colors, the light against dark and imagining the fresh air pouring into this historic and revered cathedral.

If you are intrigued by this photo and curious about Notre Dame, I would encourage you to explore the official website.  You can see a panoramic view, click to listen to Mass and Vespers (click televison and radio broadcast) and read all about the history of the cathedral. I could spend hours on this website.  It is fascinating...and free. Enjoy!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chocolate Pot de Creme and My Never List

Have I got a dessert for you: Chocolate Pot de Creme.  However, I can only endorse making it once.  It is the kind of dessert you should taste, enjoy, marvel at...and then find a way to make it with less whipping creme.

I have had make pot de creme on my "Never List" for a long long time.  

My "Never List" is a collection of food-related items that I have never tried, but would like to make/bake/taste.  It is far less dramatic than a bucket list (no one would say, "I'd like to learn how to make pot de creme before I die."), but it nags at me just the same.  It is something I have "never" made (or tried)...yet.

I recently crossed off: "Eat a fresh gooseberry" when my friend Josh picked a small basket of fresh fruits and berries from his garden to eat with his cheeses. My review?  Gooseberries are tangy and full of flavor (plus they are a beautiful pale celery yellow) - a perfect to compliment cheese.  Try them. 

What's an easy item still on my "Never List?"  Make biscotti.  You would have thought I'd tried that by now, right?, but I haven't had a chance.  So I write it down and the Never List goes on.

Anyhoo, I have wanted to make Pot de Creme for ages and I even bought antique containers this winter in Palm Beach, remember?  Since then, I started feeling nervous about experimenting with a water bath in an antique vessel, so I decided to try out this recipe from Epicurious in some classic pots ($1.95 each) from Sur La Table first, to get a feel for it.  

The result was magnificent. You should absolutely use this recipe for any party where you need a show-stopping dessert.  I made my batch with Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips and I wouldn't change a thing.

Except that I am never making it again.  Ha! I can't feed my family something with that much fat on purpose.  I will be re-working this pot de creme recipe into something that is delicious, but more reasonable in the fat department.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Growing a Pear in a Bottle

This is my beautiful pear-in-a-bottle!  I am proud to show you the progress after 5 weeks.  Isn't it beautiful?

Remember when I started the 2 pears growing in bottles last month? Read about it here.  Both pears are growing equally well, but the lighting was just right in this photo, so this is the one I am featuring today.

How much longer do you think I should let it grow before "picking?"