Saturday, November 14, 2015

Holly for the Holidays

Can you believe that this is a Holly Tree? What a beautiful specimen! I have been travelling in Michigan for a few weeks and I will return to Seattle for the holidays to put down roots.
I am planning on buying large sprigs of holly this year (perhaps at the Garden Center/Holiday Wonderland - Molbak's) to decorate a tin-pocketed advent calendar that I have. When I saw this beautiful tree in Volunteer Park in Seattle, WA, I realized that I am moving to a zone that could support a healthy holly bush. What a bonus! When I finally buy a house, I am going to plant holly bushes and grow my own festive touch.
Do I have Christmas music playing in the house already? Oh, yes!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Elk: Charming Charlie

We were driving back from Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington (post to follow) when I saw my first elk! We were on a side road near Suncadia resort when a small herd of elk meandered across the road. The cars stopped and let them pass, which gave me a chance to notice the elk and open my camera phone.

I bought an elk charm years ago when I was in Montana and I never felt good about it...until now. 

Now I've seen an elk and I qualify for an elk charm. Thank you, Washington.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sugar Management: Fill Test Tubes with Sprinkles

I love sugar and color...and being organized. This simple project ticks all the boxes and makes me very happy every time I see it in my kitchen. I see no reason the grocery store sprinkles have to reside in those ugly plastic tubes. Show them off in your kitchen and you'll find more occasions to add a little something-something to your baked apples, yogurt or brownies. I know I do!

I mention it today because as Halloween approaches, these perfectly-sized glass test tubes with cork stoppers from Martha Stewart Crafts are available at Michaels, often on sale.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Great British Bake Off: Sugar Driven Television At Its Best

Knowing that my dining room table looks like this in December, you won't be surprised to learn that my new favorite television show is The Great British Bake Off

The show was already on Season 6 (!) when I found it and I have watched most of the episodes, season by season, on YouTube. I have found that you can watch some of the seasons on PBS, so check your local listings.
The premise of the show is that 12 amateur bakers compete each week for the chance to be crowned Britain's Best Home Baker. The show is filmed in the summer, in a large white party tent on the grounds of a British estate. Each baker's station is painted a different pastel color (blue, pink, yellow or mint green) equipped with an oven and appliances match. The entire setting is a wonderland of color and sugar - my kind of place!

What I love about it is that there seems to be enough time for them to complete each task, so they aren't cutting corners. You get to see the real process they use with parchment paper, different kinds of pans etc. I just love it. The contestants are kind and help each other, give supportive glances if someone gets a harsh critique and are always there to consult on the proper oven temperature. 

There are two hosts, Mel and Sue, who add lighthearted commentary and always seem to know the right thing to say if a cake is listing to the left. The hosts take turns announcing the "Star Baker" of the week and who has unfortunately been eliminated.

The judges are cookbook author, Mary Berry and renowned baker, Paul Hollywood - both famous on that side of the pond and its fun to see the bakers nervous to have the duo taste their creations.

Have I convinced you? This is sugar-driven television (for a girl like me) at its best. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Embroidery with Whimsy: Have Your Cake

A work in progress from this summer: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too embroidered dishtowel. A great project for a hazy day by the lake. Stay tuned. I'm in Seattle now and I forgot the finished product in Michigan! It'll be back with me next month and I'll show it (and how I did it) to you then.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

World Record: Most People Participating in a Paint-By-Numbers Project

We did it! 2,852 people painted a fish at the Issaquah, Washington Salmon Days festival and by doing so, set the new Guinness Book record for people participating in a Paint-by-Number project. 

I believe the town is still waiting for the of(fish)al declaration by Guinness, but the Issaquah Press has made the announcement.
A few of the 2,852 artists at work.
You can see a portion of the "Great Migration" masterpiece, above. My work was in blue. Ha! If you ever get a chance to have a little fun and set a world record, do it! My new friend and I had a great time chatting in line and being a part of the master plan for the festival.

Eating Festival Food: check
Shopping for Arts and Crafts: check
Enjoying the Fall Weather while Walking the Streets of Issaquah: check
Setting a World Record: check

I declare the 2015 Salmon Days in FISH-aquah, Washington to be a success!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Salmon Days: Issaquah, Washington

Autumn has arrived in Washington and the salmon have returned. Can you imagine that when the smolts (I call them salmonlets) are released into Issaquah Creek outside the hatchery, they swim up Issaquah Creek and through Lake Sammamish, the Sammamish River, Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Puget Sound, the Straight of Juan de Fuca and into the Pacific Ocean. Are you kidding me? That is incredible. They are expected to live 3-5 years out in the ocean until their DNA tells them it is time to return home to spawn and they travel that exact same path in reverse. I am not a scientist, but I think that is fascinating. Can you see the salmon jumping (above) in Issaquah Creek?
This is the open air salmon ladder that the fish jump up on their way into the hatchery. The salmon are back and its cause for celebration indeed.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Salmon Days in Issaquah, Washington

What a weekend! This was my first experience with Salmon Days in Issaquah, Washington...excuse me, "FISH-aquah, Washington" and it was a delight.
The weekend celebration is timed with the return of the salmon to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to spawn. In this nature-centered region, salmon are celebrated. Nothing says it more than this larger than life kite making its way through the crowd.
Festivals mean food, and the choices were endless. I regret not having salmon fresh off the grill at the Kiwanis Salmon Bake in Gibson Park. I didn't realize it was an option until we were ready to leave - next year!
I did, however, make the genius move of ordering an apple dumpling with ice cream and caramel sauce. It was as if the apple was peeled, cored and steamed before being baked in a satisfying crust. It was so delicious I would do it all again. In my mind, that is the sign of a good festival treat. Not too rich, not sickeningly sweet, not outrageous, just delicious.  Apple season is here and I love it.

More tomorrow on other aspects of Salmon Days.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Belle Epicurean: Afternoon Treat

A pear almond brioche, an apricot pastry and lots caffeine. Sometimes this is all you need to save an afternoon. Thank you, Belle Epicurean.

Pacific Northwest African American Quilters (PNWAAQ): An Exhibit in Issaquah

It was a love of fabric, design and quilts themselves that brought us to the "I Am: Pacific Northwest African American Quilters" exhibit and lecture at Blakely Hall in the Issaquah Highlands on September 12th.  

The Pacific Northwest African American Quilters exhibit showcased how in the right hands, fabric becomes art. Many of quilts were self-portraits that harnessed the power of computers to determine the light and shadow of the human face. That information allows the quilters to chose the color and pattern in fabrics to create their likeness.
The founder of the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters, Gwen Maxwell-Williams, shown in her self-portrait (above) addressed the group, thanked them for their support and spoke about her many years of quilting, connecting and expressing herself through the fabric arts.
Members of the group offered quilts for sale (above) and had a row of sewing machines set up and humming along, ready to give demonstrations.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Seattle Symphony: Piano Competition

I brought my mom back with me to Seattle and we had only been here 5 days when she asked if we had plans for September 15th. I told her that the world was our oyster and wondered what she was thinking.

She had been going through the stack of Seattle/Seattle Met magazines in the apartment and read that the Seattle Symphony was holding its first-ever piano competition, in partnership with the Young Concert Artists and the Washington Piano Arts. My mom said that she had listened to broadcasts of piano competitions on the radio for years but had never had the chance to attend one in person. That was it, we were going to the Seattle Symphony Piano Competition at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.

The process began last Spring when a panel of reviewers started listening to audio recordings submitted by applicants worldwide. The panel selected 8 pianists from the submissions and the live competition began on September 15th with a Recital Round. Those who made the cut proceeded to the Semi-Final Round on September 16th. At last, three finalists (Kevin Ahfat, Kenny Broberg and Vijay Venkatesh) performed on Friday night for a ticketed Final Round.

My mom and I attended the afternoon Recital Round on September 15th and heard Peng-Chian Chen, Peter Chuang-Chuang Fang, Vijay Venkatesh and Sean Yeh perform. It was a fabulous experience and it was interesting to see (and hear) the vast differences between the pianists and their interpretations of the same piece of music. 

Vijay Venkatesh was our favorite and I commented to my mom during intermission that I felt like I had actually seen him move out of reality and into the music while I watched. He was completely absorbed and it was moving.

Kevin Ahfat won the competition (congratulations!) and we were happy to hear that Vijay Venkatesh tied with Kenny Broberg for second place - Bravo! The Grand Prize was a $10,000 cash prize, many future opportunities and a performance on the Seattle Symphony's Opening Night concert on September 19th. What a week Kevin had! 

Second Prize was a $5,000 cash prize and a consultation with Young Concert Artists and First Chair Promotion. The competition also awarded a $1,000 cash prize to Audience Favorite, Kenny Broberg.

All in all it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon getting to know Seattle. 
We arrived early enough to have a little lunch at Davids & Co, an upscale bar-b-que restaurant inside the lobby.

Once upstairs, we admired the magnificent almost candy-like chandelier "Crystal Cascade" by Dale Chihuly, from the second story overlook outside the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall where the piano competition took place. 
I know that over the next decade I will spend many nights in this magnificent building and attending a piano competition makes for a fun first memory.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Experimenting with White Chocolate: Buttons and Monograms

Don't you love the idea of pure white chocolate decorations? I do and I had fun one summer afternoon making these buttons, fruits and monograms.

Unfortunately, I was multitasking and let my "easy to melt" white chocolate discs simmer over a pan of hot water a little too long. I should have followed the directions and microwaved them in short intervals. Anyhoo, that is why they look like they are chalk-olate.  Get it?   
I made dark chocolate cupcakes and frosted them with homemade buttercream. Topped with a pure white chocolate icon, I thought they looked beautiful. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Borner Vegetable Shredder is a Treasure

How is it possible that I found a second complete Borner V-Slicer set at a rummage sale? I found the first at a church rummage sale in Birmingham, Michigan in 2011. It was wrapped in a bag with the instructions rubber-banded to the exterior and was $4. It included all of the mandolin slicing blades, plus a host of extras like a tool to turn the peel of an orange into a flower and a stand-alone blade that shredded zucchini or lemon zest. 
I may have been the only one who knew what it was on sight, and quickly snapped it up. I priced the piece of that set online and I think it was around $150 retail. I have treasured this set and laugh when I think of its origin. Did a mother-in-law buy it for a daughter-in-law that didn't cook? Was it a well-meaning husband's birthday gift? It had never been used - ever. All of the packaging and original plastic wrap was still on every piece. I had to leave it in Michigan until we finally sell our house and move everything. And frankly, I have missed being able to use it.

Fast forward to 2015, last Friday in fact, when I heard of a local church "garage sale" to benefit Habitat for Humanity. I love to look for treasures and I still can't believe that I found another never-been-used set! This one for a mere $2. 

Thanks to my new treasure-hunting turf, my vegetable shredding plans are back on track. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Art With A View: Suttons Bay Art Festival

What a day! I spent the first Saturday in August meandering the annual Suttons Bay Art Festival. The tents back right up to the beach and marina - what a view! You can actually see the vistas that inspired so many of the artists. 
I bought this darling bracelet of blown glass beads and saved the business card to trumpet his work, but naturally I can't find it. I searched the artist page on the art show webpage, but couldn't find any similar work. I will update this post when I get the information. For now, just know that this is a terrific art show in a fabulous setting. Come visit!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sunflower Bouquet: Visual Vitamins

Visual Vitamins: when looking at something is good for you.

When I see this bouquet of sunflower blossoms, the word "glorious" comes to mind. I stopped into Blue Boat coffee in Leland for an afternoon latte and was greeted by this magnificent display. 

These are Visual Vitamins are there very best.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fishtown: The Perfect Place to Visit on your drive Around the Peninsula

I caved and took a selfie on the bridge over the waterfall in historic Fishtown. Dan was in Seattle and I wanted him to see the gorgeous day I was experiencing a million miles away in Leland, Michigan. It came out so well, I've decided to share it. The photo above was taken from the footbridge over the dam.
The Carp River flows from Lake Leelanau over the dam and out to Lake Michigan. The public can walk the docks of fishtown, peek inside the working area of Carlson's Fish and smell the fresh catch being smoked in the smokehouse next door. I always buy a container of whitefish pate (to be served with wine and white crackers) from the storefront. The Fishtown Preservation Society strives to protect and preserve the historic fishing shanties, fishing nets and tugs (low body fishing vessels - seen above with a green base). I've walked these docks every summer for the last 40 years, the first 13 with my maternal grandmother, so the preservation of fishtown is real to me too.  
This image shows a sailboat tied up at The Cove, a local restaurant that is famous for it's large outdoor deck. A lovely place for drinks and dinner, as trumpeted by chef Mario Batali. I took the photo from the docks looks back and the dam. The footbridge is just above the water, connecting the buildings.

The perfect place for a summer vacation, no?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nest: A Tiny Treasure Found

I noticed this little nest tucked into a tangle of lavender plants just a few feet off the ground near the cottage. Did the wind blow it down? Could a bird have chosen this as a nesting place? It was so arranged so perfectly straight, it didn't look tousled by the wind.

I meant to come back later and see if I could answer my own question, but it never caught my eye again. Though the proximity to the ground seemed risky, the sweet smell of lavender would have made a lovely place to nap.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Can You Canoe?

It looked like a scene from an inspirational poster. Two men and a dog were out on Lake Michigan enjoying the calm. Bird calls and the sound of their paddles in the water was all they could hear. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Alnwick Rose by David Austin

A rose that looks destined for crystal; this is the Alnwick rose by David Austin. Have you ever seen a blossom so lovely? 

This is not a casual country rose. This beauty was designed for greatness. I can feel it. I was honored to meet the David Austin in England a few years ago and the experience was wonderful.

If you are thinking of starting a rose garden, you need to know that it will take time and tending, but results like this are worth every minute. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mattress: King, Queen or Daylily Bed?

There is a romance to this photo that I want to share. This is the bed of day lilies at the cottage and for yet another summer, a family of deer have been sleeping in it every night. 

It starts sometime in July. After a season of growth, one day the plants are healthy and lush, the next morning there are distinct circles where each mother, father and baby deer has slept. The day lilies don't fluff up much during the day and the circles are even more distinct each morning. This lasts the entire summer. I have never seen the deer, but they certainly leave their mark.

Isn't it wonderful to think of them quietly walking into the yard, choosing their place and sinking into the cool leaves. Do leaves have a Sleep Number? Do the individual deer choose the same spot each night?

You may not have realized it, but this really is a BED of day lilies. Sleep tight!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sweet Pie of Mine: Cherries from Cherry Country

Like many of my peers, I have fallen in love with Pinterest and the endless posts about jam jars. I knew I couldn't let Summer end without attempting to make little cherry pies.

Aren't they beautiful?!

I used 3 Ball quilted jam jars (4 oz) and 4 larger Pyrex glass custard cups and my go-to cherry pie recipe. I baked them on a cookie sheet - 45 min at 350 degrees. It worked like a charm.

I did not grease the cups, but simply cut circles of Pillsbury pie crust and fit them into the bottom and sides of each container. Then I spooned in a nice amount of filling into each cup and then cut and arranged the extra pie crust pieces into a lattice or hearts.

I forgot to take a photo after they were baked because we ate them warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lake Michigan Magic

It has been a summer of adjustments and this view helped. I have spent most of the summer in Leland with my mom. Thank you for being patient and allowing me time to get my bearings. 

I am about to make a permanent move to Seattle, Washington! I will finally be living in that cute apartment that I started to show you back in March.

I will still have a few responsibilities in Michigan, but essentially I am starting a new life with Dan in the Pacific Northwest. It's a big deal.

I have had a few neat projects and photos this summer that I want to share, so the next ten posts will show you what I've tasted and tried.

P.S. After a hard winter of pounding waves, the "beach" at the cottage has disappeared. On clear days we can see where it went! There is a brand new expansive sand bar out front - can you see the sandy stripe in the water?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Honoring the Past: When Embroidery Captures a Moment in Time

I found a treasure! Someone spent hours embroidering this darling kitchen scene.  Just look at the details...there is food and wine on the table, a kettle on the stove and pots hung on the wall. She even stitched a small china windmill, a popular souvenir, sitting on the kitchen shelf.  My mom thinks that this dishtowel was stitched before the depression when there was time for needlework and pretty linens - late 1920's? I've always loved collecting vintage Pyrex as a way to honor the American kitchen. This dishtowel fits right in with my aesthetic. 

I plan on starching it and framing it on the wall somehow. Wouldn't it be darling in a blue and white kitchen? Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bouys: Let Color Float Your Boat

Color inspiration is everywhere and this month, House Beautiful magazine has featured a photo of vibrant lobster buoys for their By The Sea color palette. It has deep blues, bright red with stripes of yellow, pink and mint.

It reminded me of my own buoy images from a delightful trip to Maine in 2009. The buoys above are bright and new, ready to mark the daily catch, while the collection below show that they had been bobbing in the sea for years.
Did you know that the color and striping on lobster buoys represents each lobster man and his license. Each operation has their own matching buoys. Isn't that interesting? Can't you see me at the Secretary of State (or some such office in Maine) asking to trade for a better color combination as my signature? I mean, if I was given the brown and yellow combo (above) I would have wept.

Color is everything to me. Which color combo would you request? 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Christening Cup: Little George Turns Two

Prince George turns 2 today! His sweet face makes standing in the grocery checkout line more bearable - you can see official pictures of him here. In honor of his royal birthday, I've arranged some flowers in his christening cup.  

The blue of the flower (why can't I think of it's name?) is closer to that of the cup in real life and paired with apricot roses, I've got quite a sweet little bouquet. 

Would you like some commemorative royal china? You can purchase some beautiful pieces here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reinhardt Blooms: Remember My Flower Farm Visit?

I was able to visit with Katie Wachowiak from Reinhardt Blooms this weekend!

Remember when a tornado warning sent me scrambling for cover and I drove off the highway and ran into a stranger's house yelling, "I'm taking cover!"

You haven't heard that story? Read it here.

Well, my port-in-a-storm family became my new friends and I was able to visit them later in the summer. Karen cooked me a beautiful dinner and then introduced me to her talented friend, Katie Wachowiak. Refresh your memory and read about my visit to her Michigan flower farm last summer.
Okay, now you are all caught up. It's July 2015 and I was so happy to see Katie again. She is one the most talented floral designers I know. Be sure to check out her floral arrangements on her webpage. I was able to stop by the Birmingham (Michigan) farmer's market and buy flowers from her stand. Look at her bright and vibrant summer bouquet! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Game On: A Vintage Game Board works as Art

Do you see the beauty too? This antique Chinese checkers board will someday hang as art in my house. I stopped into an antique shop in a strip mall and b-a-m! I saw this beautiful board. I pretended to be interested in other things, but in the end I knew that I couldn't leave without it. 

The colors were so vibrant and interesting and for some reason reminded me of a bouquet of snapdragons. My first thought was to have a piece of glass cut for it and use it as a tray on an ottoman. That option is still there, but for now I have settled on hanging it on the wall as art.

I couldn't wait to show you, so I placed it in a stand so that I could photograph my new vintage treasure from 1938. It is the perfect representation of my design mantra: I like things that are beautiful and interesting.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bottle Bouquet: A Beautiful Way to Blend Natural Colors

Isn't this lovely? Sometimes we need a reminder that the colors and textures of a flower arrangement doesn't always need to relate back to another part of the arrangement.  We took what was blooming and placed a stem or two in each glass bottle. During the course of the week, as a flower faded, we replaced it with another. It was an ever changing touch of color in the kitchen. Visual Vitamins, indeed. 

I believe that this bottle carrier for flowers was found at Pottery Barn years ago. You can order a similar flower arranging item here. I just love how natural it looks. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Blue Boat: A Coffee Bar in Leland

My days in Leland have gotten a little brighter. One of the new businesses that opened in our little resort town is called Blue Boat and it's a coffee bar! This is an action shot (above) of a pour over coffee brewing. There were 4 choices of beans for pour over that day and since I am not an expert in knowing which region I like my beans from, they allowed me to make my choice by scent.
I noticed on the Blue Boat Facebook Page that their barista, Kent, participated in a latte art competition in Traverse City last month. How cool. I would love to go to an event like that, proving that Seattle is going to be a great new home for me. My friend loved her pour over and I thought that my latte was delicious. It was rich and smooth and divine and it wasn't just because I detected whole milk.
My extended family loves this new coffee bar and we had Blue Boat logo-ed paper cups all over the house during the July 4th holiday. Some even saw actor, comedian and summer resident, Tim Allen in line for a cup. I had a chance to meet Tim Allen and welcome him to the area a few years ago. I plan to frequent Blue Boat coffee and expect that someday soon I will the voice of "Pure Michigan" order a latte.