Monday, February 23, 2015

Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Monumental Garden Displays

It's the 2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show. You've finally arrived. After winding your way past the gorgeous display of Spring flowering bulbs presented by the "Flower Growers of Puget Sound", you buy your ticket and in you go.
I had never been to the NWFGS garden show before and it took me a moment to get my bearings among the crowds and enormous displays.  I did not know that there was a garden design competition, let alone on such a grand scale. 

The South Hall of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle had 20 life size representations of that design company's style or aesthetic. What a wonderful way to bring your vision to life.

There were boulders as big as a Fiat, full-size trees, real grass, giant water features, small buildings, glass greenhouses - all telling a story in keeping with the theme: Romance Blossoms.  

You know that I love dollhouses and the attention to detail in teeny-tiny scale.  I enjoyed these full-size vignettes for the same reason. They were like dollhouse presentations, but in 12:12 scale. Each display was to look as if it were being actively used. Look closely and I'm sure you'll see a garden magazine on a tabletop or candles lit on a table. From my pictures, you can see a picnic in the display "Romantic Folly" (last image) that has a piece of cake that I've been eyeing all day. Let me show you some of the displays that spoke to me:

Love the Space You're In by Susan Browne was a favorite display of mine because it was so crisp and pretty, it looked like a cover from HGTV magazine. I feel certain that Susan has inspired a lot of people to paint their front door cobalt blue this Spring. The plentiful groupings of orange tulips proves that the color wheel does indeed work. Blue and its opposite orange are perfect together. I love Susan's design pattern from plant to porch. I've seen several photos of her display, but none from this angle. So pretty!
A Moment to Remember by Nature Perfect Landscaping and the Nature Perfect Design Team (above). This landscape had a open gate at the end of this water hovering walkway and the scene begged show goers to pose for a photograph. If ever there was a perfect backdrop for a "I'm at the Garden Show" selfie, this is it. 

I loved this display garden for its movie set quality - it reminded me of where Robin Hood might propose to Maid Marian. Can't you just hear Bryan Adams singing his ballad?
Thank you, Bryan.
Birds Do It...Bees Do It (above) by the West Seattle Nursery. Did you notice the tower of boxes? Those are artistic and colorful bee boxes underscoring the important role bees play in our garden-loving lives. I think of this as "pollination station" and I am so glad that the West Seattle Nursery reminded us all to plant the flowers and herbs that are so important to sustaining the birds and the bees.
Knotty and Nice...Here's to We Time (above) by Karen Stefonick Design. There was a sense of peace and grace in this backyard oasis.  A cozy seating area for a couple to talk and drink up coffee, wine and the quiet. This space was dedicated to human connection and it was all I could do not to sit up there with Dan and tell him all about what I was seeing at the show. Bravo.
"Romantic Folly" by Pamela Richards and Falling Water Gardens (above). I had a chance to speak with Pamela and she told me that she loves the website Pinterest and the endless inspiration it can bring to gardeners and creatives alike. 

When I told her that my name was Anne, she mentioned her love of Anne of Green Gables and I said, "I knew it!" Earlier I had asked her if Downton Abbey had influenced her designs, but no. There was a romantic sensibility in her work that I couldn't put my finger on. Then she told me herself. This woman knows Anne Shirley. Nice job, Pamela. So many of us would like to spend an afternoon picnicking in your outdoor landscape. #NWFGS

Friday, February 20, 2015

Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Shopping for Garden Glory

We have come to the shopping portion of my blog series on the Northwest Flower and Garden ShowA salute to the garden centers gifts that we all love to buy.

It's almost March and we all need new seeds, right? How could anyone resist this candy-colored display of possibility? Renee's Garden seed are beautiful and dependable. My mom loves them when she does a "study in nasturtiums."

And you've heard about what I've done with empty Renee's Garden seed packets, right? I like to re-purpose them into super cute business card holders. If I didn't, I'd only see them when I was planting and that is not often enough. 
Molbak's Garden had the sense to sell eye candy (cyclamen plants) and real candy bars in the same display. And I can see from their website that they have a CAFE! Now that is a business after my own heart. It brings back great memories of going to lunch at a garden center with my mom and her best friend in northern Michigan. I can't wait to spend some quality time at Molbak's Garden.
I'm pretty sure it was the Strong Marketing booth, where I saw this beautiful deep purple garden hose by My Garden Hose Reinvented. I don't particularly need a new garden hose, but the rich color made me want one. Do you feel that way too?
My favorite item in the Ravenna Gardens booth were the cement teacup and saucer. They are stacked on top of each other on the right side of the table. I would love to have johnny-jump-ups blooming through the moss foam.

Who else made a big impression on me? Impwear Home. Tracy Krauter has designed a gorgeous line of bags, aprons and tablecloths MADE IN SEATTLE of laminated cotton. The items have a streamlined design, and use strong colors or charming prints to grab your attention. The best part about the company is the fact that the products are made from a hard-to-find material: laminated cotton. You simply do not run across laminated cotton products in the marketplace and laminated cotton is WONDERFUL. It wipes clean; it's water resistant and this allows the beauty and color of fabric items be more front and center in your busy life. Can I get an amen? I bought a darling tote in the "vintage" print (cream with goldfinches, butterflies and Emma Bridgewater-style lettering) and I can't wait to carry it all over Seattle.

Okay. Now the show hosts 350 vendors! Even I can't shop that much. I've focused on a few standouts but you really should peruse the complete list here. You can even shop online (via the website links) for the items you already regret not purchasing at the show. You're welcome.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Viva la France

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show...a French influence. Today I will highlight the booths and displays with a decidedly French feel. 
I was so happy to see Woodinville Lavender at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. I spent a lovely afternoon there last June when the fields were in full bloom and it looks just as beautiful as their poster - breathtaking. I was also impressed with the extensive selection of lavender products in their shop and vowed to come back to the farm to purchase even more. Lucky for us, they brought the store and more to the garden show. Sachets, tea, culinary lavender, soap and even an array of lavender-themed dishtowels, porcelain mugs and books. Look at the table (below) brimming with live lavender plants. 
Every garden deserves as touch of ooh-la-la and lavender provides it.
Rose Marie Designs' booth was teeming with women imagining themselves in lace-trimmed dresses, fabric flower coursages and white-on-white ensembles. The effect of white parasols and fairy lights drew women to her booth like moths to a flame. Gardeners love beauty and Rose Marie has it.
My husband actually saw this booth of fine French linens first and waited to see my reaction as I came upon it.  Be still my heart.  If I remember correctly many were made by Garnier Thiebaut and all of them were of the highest quality. It is times like this that I curse myself for not logging my kitchen and dining room table dimensions into my phone. The image above is the display of dishtowels - I recognized several that I have and several that I have been coveting. 
Honestly a girl needs to be warned before she is faced with such a selection. I did not expect to find French linens at a Flower and Garden Show, but they are certainly welcome in my book. The booth was named MD Arts and Linens, but unfortunately the referenced website (www.provencedecor.com) is not active, so I can't send you to his shop. Come back to the show next year? You bet!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Why Anne Reeves?

For those of you who are new to my blog, I'd like to answer the question: Who am I and why am I writing so extensively on the Northwest Floral and Garden Show

I am a blogger who writes about things that bring delight - food, design, travel, garden, crafts, sugar, ribbon etc. I've publish over 2,000 posts these last 7 years, all with my original photography. I have also written 3 books on Moments of Delight, Finding Delight and Paris: Delight in the City of Light

In terms of gardening:
I am a suburban gardener from Southeastern Michigan and I'm suddenly spending a lot of time in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

I probably love a lot of things that you love and after years of hearing about the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, I had the chance to go - and with only a week's notice! I wanted to get the most out of this exciting chance and after 5 hours coming the aisles, I feel like I got a good handle on the show.

My husband will be working in Seattle a lot this year and I'll be coming with him. After a few great trips last year, I will have the chance to dig even deeper into the subjects I love in a brand new setting.

This week I will have individual blog posts about all of the things I enjoyed  at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I was impressed by the sheer volume of vendors selling not only garden tools and implements, but also plants, indoor/outdoor artwork, garden design elements, water features as well as clothing, hats and clogs that make a day outdoors more pleasant. Stick with me and I'll fill you in.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Favorite Entries in Floral Competition at 2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

I was captivated by two entries in the Floral Competition at the Northwest Garden and Flower Show in Seattle, Washington and interestingly enough, they were both rectangular. 

The multi-compartment arrangement (above) was designed by Debra Prinzing of SlowFlowers.com. When she led with aqua, she stole my heart. This artistic presentation makes the idea of collecting floral bouquets completely reasonable, don't you think?

I loved this painting called "Sunset Blooms" by Art of Forest Blooms. A crowded collage of color and texture - with a heavenly scent to boot! I would hang this on my wall in a minute. It reminds me that I don't reach for the oasis often enough. Bravo. #NWFGS

Monday, February 16, 2015

Giant Heart of Living Succulent Plants: Robin Stockwell of Succulent Gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

It was this 14-foot tall living wall of succulents arranged in the shape of a heart that welcomed visitors to the 27th annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, Washington. 

A masterpiece made from 15,000 living plants, the heart was created by Robin Stockwell. After the show has ended, this lovely display will live on as a garden at Succulent Gardens in Castroville, California. 

This was my first time to the show and this giant heart certainly relayed how I felt - lucky to be there and absolutely in love with gardening. The 2015 Northwest Flower and Garden show was held February 11-15 and in a nod to Valentine's Day, the overall theme for this year's show was "Romance Blossoms."  

Because of the sheer volume of content and have-to-share photographs, I've decided to divide my blog posts and highlight my favorite aspects of this year's show over the next few days. Enjoy! #NWFGS

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thread Letters: A Charming Farmers Market Display

I love when people let their passions intersect. Clearly the person behind this little booth loves to gardening and embroidery and design. She elevated tiny sunflower and radish sprouts into a still life by echoing soft colors and country charm in her display.

The tablecloth is a faded print of pea shoots and vines - a perfect backdrop for the wisps of green. And did you notice that the red stitching of the words radish sprouts is in the same color as the basket behind it and the touches of red in the cloth? Subtle but powerful. You see how, though worn, the yellow thread used in the words sunflower sprouts coordinate with the real life sprouts on the left.

A wooden hoop, cotton fabric and thread letters caught my attention far more than pen and paper ever would.  When you utilize the skills you have, even when they don't seem to fit the job description, your originality will win every time.

And by the way, I've never seen an oval embroidery hoop for sale, have you?

I found this charming display at the Portland Farmer's Market on the Portland State University campus last June. If you're in the area on a Saturday this Spring, please stop by this teeny table and pass on my accolades.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cheese Fondue on a Heart Shaped Board

We celebrated Day #8 of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day with a gorgeous cheese fondue from President Cheese. I was lucky to find it in the cheese case at Costco and served one on New Years Eve and kept this one for Valentine's Day. What I like is that I can microwave the container and in minutes, I'm ready for fondue. It tastes just like you would hope. Apples and bread and cheese, oh my!

My friend Angie gave me this gorgeous heart-shaped cutting board from Longaberger (a limited edition piece that is no longer available) and it made the perfect serving station for our romantic appetizer.

Do you have any heart shaped items in your kitchen? Now's the time to get them out. Cookie cutters, cake pans, cutting boards - have some fun. I plan on making shortbread hearts later this week and maybe a heart-shaped banana bread - why not?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chocolate Hearts Melted Mine

Be still my heart - perfect chocolates for Valentine's Day! When I was picking up my caramel puffs, I couldn't help but be mesmerized by this shelf of real chocolate hearts.  I would buy 5 or 6 and tuck them around the sweets on a cookie plate. 

The maker of these has an artist's eye and I knew I had to show you. The French bakery is called Le Petit Prince and is located in Birmingham, Michigan.

Happy 12 Days of Valentine's Day! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Caramel Coated Cream Puffs: A Croquembouche Deconstructed

I ate. I swooned. I asked where I could get more cream puffs.  

Last fall, my friend showed up at my door with the top tier of a croquembouche. Have you ever seen a croquembouche? The name comes from the French phrase that means to crunch in the mouth. A croquembouche is a glorious tower of cream puffs dipped in a hard caramel shell. 

My first exposure to croquembouche was watching a Martha Stewart Christmas VHS tape when I was in high school. Yes, it was way back when. The video was compelling and I have never forgotten how Martha made it look easy to waft spun sugar onto the tower of cream puffs. You can watch a portion of it here - the construction of the dessert begins at time marker 4:20.

Until last fall, I had never had the opportunity to taste a croquembouche and the "cream puffs" I had tried were merely puff pastry shells with flavored whipped cream inside. Meh.

Then my friend stopped by and told me that she had brought me a treat from a party the night before. Her friend had ordered an enormous croquembouche from Le Petit Prince for the centerpiece of a buffet and it had been treated more like art than dessert. She sent the entire top of the tower home with my friend. French pastries wait for no man and you have to eat them while they are fresh. Twist my arm.

When I reached to pull a puff from the tower, I had no idea that I would think back to this dessert time and again. Rum spiked cream inside a tender puff coated in a crunchy caramel shell. Oh me, oh my. No wonder Martha Stewart took the time to make this for her video, it is delicious! Here is a recipe from Saveur magazine if you want to try it.

So the other day I broke down and called Le Petit Prince in Birmingham Michigan to ask about that glorious croquembouche. Is there anything similar that they make and sell separately?  I told them that I didn't have an event worthy of an entire tower, but that I really wanted to eat a puff again! If I'm thinking about a dessert 6 months later, I've got to have it again. I was thrilled to hear that the puffs are sold individually and I ordered a dozen on the spot. Happy Valentine's Day to us.

It may seem outrageous to order a dozen French pastries on a whim, but I'll tell you why I did it. 

#1 A business that makes labor intensive dessert needs support. 
#2 If I'm going to ask them to make a special order, the order need to be worth      their while. A dozen made sense.  
#3 Life is for living.

 Remember, it's the 12 Days of Valentine's Day and everything counts

Friday, February 6, 2015

Love and Potatoes: When Stripes are the Star

Want to show your family that you love them during the 12 Days of Valentines Day? Stripe a pan of mashed potatoes and see what happens. I brought this dish to our big family Christmas Eve dinner and I swear my brother took his phone out and took a picture of it. Unprecedented. 

This is my semi-homemade version of a striped mashed potato dish I saw in a magazine years ago. I actually bought two containers of homemade mashed potatoes at Costco and redistributed them into the baking dish with a splash of milk to help make them a bit more pliable.

Then I baked the mashed potatoes at 350 degrees for 40 min or long enough to warm them up and then topped the mashed potatoes with cooked bacon, sharp cheddar cheese and sliced green onion. Put the dish back into the oven just long enough to let the cheese melt. 

The photo you see here is one that I took to a party in a leave-behind container. When you make this in a beautiful deep blue Emile Henry baking dish, it looks even better.

This dish is delicious, easy, beautiful and on my must-make list for crowds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

12 Days of Valentines Day

I think you should have fun for 12 days straight. I know, we don't always look at things that way, but that is the beauty of celebrating the "12 Days of Valentine's Day". You decide what fun little thing you want to do each day in honor of Valentine's Day and the people that you love in your life.
Celebrating the 12 Days of Valentine's Day helps make lovely gestures a habit. It's a time when you do little things to show love for family, friends and yourself. Wear a pink sweater one day, put red food coloring in your cake batter, set the table with red place mats - everything counts when you are celebrating the fact that you love a lot of people.

There is no set schedule. There isn't a "number" relationship between the days (meaning you don't have to sneak 10 Hershey kisses into a loved one's pocket just because it is Day 10).  Nope, you just do what feels right and fits into your schedule on any particular day leading up to Valentine's Day.  

When someone compliments your pink scarf, just smile and say that its in honor of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  If your neighbor questions your sudden gift of 6 muffins, tell her it's The 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  Have fun with it. And let me know how your coworkers and friends respond.

My suggestion for today is order a David Austin rose bush for your garden. You will never regret the day-after-day beauty you will enjoy this summer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Isaac Mizrahi Designs Yarn for Michaels

A triumph of color and texture, I am very pleased with Isaac Mizrahi's new collection of yarn (particularly this style called Sutton in York) at Michaels. It has a wonderful thick hand and a welcome close-to-the-face feel.

14" of snow fell in Michigan last night and I am arriving home just in time to put this beauty to good use.  I knit 2 strands on the needle at once (treating them as if they were one yarn) and did a variation of classic knit stitch with a twisted drop stitch every few rows to give the yarn some space to show off. 

By knitting with 2 strands at once (keep 2 different yarn balls at your side and draw from them at the same time), the yarn is naturally at a difference place in the dye pattern and you will find yourself knitting with two complimentary shades at once. It really adds interest to your project without adding ANY difficulty.  Try it and let me know what you think.

I thought it was really funny that when I looked at my knitting on the table, I noticed that the cover of the new David Austin English Rose catalog has the exact same colors on it. My scarf matches roses/leaves/grass/brick. Ha!

If you are looking for a cozy new project, you must try Isaac's yarn, darling.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Watercolor Painting: Worth Avenue in Palm Beach

Want an original way to remember your vacation? Make a Waterlogue "watercolor painting" of your best vacation picture, save it, print it and then hang it on the wall. 

Waterlogue is an iPhone and iPad app that quickly (and I mean in one minute or less) converts your photo into a watercolor painting that you can save and print.

And when I say an original way to remember your vacation, I really mean original.  No other painting will look quite like yours because the artwork is a computer rendering based on your original photograph. Plus there are stylized settings like "Mechanical" or "Vibrant" to make your watercolor images fit your aesthetic. I am in love with this app and could auto-magically turn my photographs into artwork all-day-long.  I know that this must have real watercolor artists reeling, but I can't help it. I love how my photos look as paintings and I will never have the skills to convert them myself with paint and a brush.

The location? Beautiful Worth Avenue with its palm trees and gorgeous shops in Palm Beach, Florida. We came here for lunch and an afternoon of window shopping and bougainvillea admiring. What a day.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recipe Box of Friends and Memories

Do I have a story for you. I recently ran into my friend Lesley when I was out shopping and she proclaimed, "I'm so glad I ran into you; I've been meaning to call; I bought something for you!"

My first thoughts were, "What? Why would you buy something for me?" and then I quickly came around to, "How fun!" 

Lesley and I met through the Junior League of Birmingham around 1997 and we saw each other all the time when we were volunteering.  Now our schedules are different and it feels like we never get to see each other anymore. We did talk for a long time on the phone when I was about to "live" on and off in Seattle. She introduced me to her friend, Kathy in Seattle, who became my friend Kathy in Seattle.  Isn't that great? 

Lesley told me that she had recently been to an estate sale in our area and noticed among the clutter, a recipe box shaped like a house. And it was still full of recipe cards! Being a sentimental girl, Lesley couldn't bear to leave such a personal item behind. 

She told me that as she stood there, with a lifetime's worth of possessions for sale around her, she decided that I should be the steward for this very feminine relic. 

I completely agree. I love cooking and friendship and collecting. This treasure is the intersection of all three.  I like looking at the different styles of recipe cards from years ago and at the distinct handwriting of her friends. There are years of friendships here and I only wish that I could ask her about each and every woman. Was the lasagna recipe from her supper club? Was the lemon cake someone's pride and joy? There is a story here, I just know it.

My heart tells me that her family removed any recipe cards that were meaningful and that I have the cards from outside the family, and that suits me just fine. 

I think Lesley is both thoughtful and intuitive to find a way to keep this woman's friendship box alive. I may not know its history, but I will honor it just the same.

Have you ever found yourself looking after another person's treasure? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cath Kidston Jam Jar Kit: The Power of Cute

Never underestimate the power of cute. I would never say that homemade jars of jam need decoration.  People have been making and giving jam for as long as it has been possible. It is truly a gift.

But when you can doll up your jars, why not?

I am a Cath Kidston devotee.  I have loved her modern Laura Ashley-esque style for years (oilcloth tablecloths, polka dot fabric and darling dishes) and have visited her stores in New York City (sadly, now closed) and London. She makes me want to be British.

There are very few places in the United States that sell Cath Kidston products, so my heart skipped a beat when I noticed her Jam Jar Kit on the shelf of Pacific Fabrics, a sewing shop in Seattle. 

I knew I would be buying some fabric and ribbon, but a jam jar kit? Clearly this store is interested in bringing delight. The kit includes sweet label stickers and a variety of scalloped paper circles in some of Cath Kidston's signature prints that you fold down over the sealed jar lid and secure with a bit of coordinated elastic cord. 

My raspberry jam and peach jam now look so good that I've made it a little harder for my friends to remove the cover and dig in. I actually keep the paper lid and elastic on the counter and replace it after breakfast. Why not?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Time and Tea at The Royal Park Hotel

My friend, Nancy and I had tea for two at The Royal Park hotel in Rochester, Michigan just before Christmas and it was lovely. In a hustle bustle season, it felt wonderful to steal an afternoon for ourselves. 

My favorite thing about having high tea is that it requires a certain mood and pace that cannot be rushed.  The tea hostess at The Royal Park is Mary and she is a gem. Kind, efficient and delighted that you can enjoy tea under her watch, Mary makes her guests feel welcome. She gives her guests Time and Tea. The cell phones are off and we have the luxury of a good chat. Besides, sandwiches this pretty need to be savored.
The sandwich tier includes roast beef in pretty puffed popovers, piped egg salad and a cheddar cheese brûlée, all of which are picture-worthy. You can see the entire tea menu here.
Did you notice the pair of gingerbread men on the dessert tier? A sweet touch in December, and very delicious.
Nancy is a Catholic children's author, and we talked about writing stories, blogging and our desire to always produce meaningful content. We understand each other and it is always wonderful to hear Nancy's perspective on things. We had a chance to really talk things over under the guise of tea time protocol. 

If you can, make a reservation for tea with a friend. You will have time and tea - what more could you need?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Frame Beautiful Christmas Cards as Art

Now that the holiday decorations are all tucked away, do you still have a stack of Christmas cards on your kitchen desk?  I know lots of cards have family photos on them (so cute!) Did you receive any that have an imageI want to show you how a pretty card can become a permanent piece of art. 

I know it isn't ground breaking to imagine framing a pretty card, nor is it hard to do. But sometimes you need concrete evidence of how worthwhile the effort is.

My pen pal Renate lives in England (remember when she collected souvenirs from the Royal Wedding for me?) and is a lovely friend who takes great care in choosing a Christmas card for me that is distinctly British. This year she sent me a card with a beautiful painting depicting the changing of the guard on a snowy day at Buckingham Palace.  I just love it and wanted to be able to enjoy for years to come.

I took the card with me to Joann Fabric to find a frame with the right scale and coloring.  I went over to the paper department and held the card up against a million different styles of scrapbook paper - a really fun way to make a mat for a picture - but nope. I didn't like any of them.  

When I got home, I looked through my stash of fabrics and found a piece with just the right mood: a rich red plaid to highlight the guards' red uniforms. I ironed the fabric, wrapped it around the mat board that came with the frame and secured it to the back with duct tape.  Then I placed pieces of scotch tape rolled into a small tube on the back of the card, at each corner, and carefully placed it on the fabric. It left a border of red plaid fabric all the way around the card. The bits of tape on the back of the card helps to keep the card from slipping when I placed it in the frame, against the glass. Then all I had to do was close up the back of the frame. I wrote Renate's name and 2014 on the back of the frame. Voila! I have a sentimental piece of art to put on display for years to come.

Have I inspired you? I think this is a wonderful way to decorate a tabletop for the holidays.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Beekman 1802 Honey & Oats Scrub Bar and Photo News

Brace yourself. It is my photograph of the Beekman Mansion on the new Beekman 1802 Honey & Oats Scrub Bar packaging! I am as proud as can be. You can see the original image below.
When Dan and I were in upstate New York, we were able to visit my friends, Josh and Brent at their farm in Sharon Springs. Josh and I have been friends 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 we didn't see each other.  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  


Over time, Dan and I have become friends with Josh's husband, Brent too and we make an effort to see each other whenever we go to New York or when they come to Michigan on a book tour.  
It was a glorious day when we toured the farm and with their blessing, I blogged about their growing lifestyle brand, flagship store in Sharon Springs and their win on the Amazing Race.  You can read my original post here.
My photo of the mansion was noticed online and I was contacted about granting rights for the use of my image on their new packaging. I would do anything to help Josh and Brent and in my own small way, I am doing my part. 

The Honey & Oats Scrub Bar is a big, beautiful bar of soap that they describe as "Skin Softening Formula: Gently Exfoliates with Natural Bran & Oatmeal. Notes of apricot & honeyed blossoms, hint of fresh wildflowers." It smells divine and I'm sure it will delight.

You can order the Honey & Oats Goat Milk Scrub Bar online or buy it right off the shelf in the flagship Beekman 1802 Mercantile in Sharon Springs, New York (photo above). If you'd like, you can read all about my first visit to the mercantile here.

As someone that loves and admires beautiful packaging, I love that one of my photos is now a permanent part of Beekman 1802 packaging. As I said, I am very proud.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dahlia Tubers - Order Early from Dahlia Barn

I'm making sure my garden is full of delight from August to October. I just ordered some tubers from The Dahlia Barn. They will ship them to me when the timing is right this spring and then its up to me!

Remember when I visited them in the Pacific Northwest this fall? It was such a nice visit and I promised to try growing them in my own little garden. You can place your order anytime now and they begin shipping (by planting zone) in March. Since it is -3 degrees here today, I've got a while to wait!

But why not order now before any variety is sold out? I chose some by color and some by name. How could I resist "Dot Com" or "Sonic Bloom," I ask you? There is a Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February that I would love to attend, but alas, my boots are in Michigan (and sometimes Florida) that time of year.  If you go to the flower show, enjoy it a little more for me, ok?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Seattle: Discovery Park: Peace and Quiet

Seattle's Discovery Park is all about light. We were out on the tip of the peninsula, on the South Beach side, on a Sunday afternoon in October and I was surprised that there weren't more people around. The population of Seattle is around 650,000, but we practically had the place to ourselves. Of course, the Seattle area has so many parks, lakes and mountains to explore, I know that it's citizens were out and about on this spectacular day, they just weren't here.
The water on Puget Sound was calm and I sat here and enjoyed the sound of the water lapping at the shore while Dan explored the terrain around the lighthouse.
I used my zoom to give you a better look at Mt. Rainier and a freighter travelling on the waterway.
This photo is of the same bay, same direction as above (imagine that Mt Rainier is just off to the right).  Isn't it interesting how much more rich the color blue looks when it is set off by the green and khaki of the shoreline?

Discovery Park was once a military base and it is the largest public park in Seattle. There are trails to hike, beaches to walk (there are 2 miles of protected tidal beaches, so no fishing or shelling) and a bounty of natural habitats to explore. I encourage you to visit the park website and read this FAQ sheet. I read that there are tidal pools here too, so I've got that on my list to visit next time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Reeves Library and Antique Pots de Creme

I think I have mentioned "The Reeves Library" to you before. I was given full control over our upstairs hall linen closet when we built our house and what began as a place to keep my Victoria and Martha Stewart Living magazines, quickly expanded to hold all of the issues of magazines that I love and want to keep.  I have all of the issues of the short-lived Blueprint magazine. Years of the outstanding publication American Homestyle and Garden and at least a decade of Country Home.  Every shelf is full. I am almost to the point where my library needs an expansion.

I tend to store my issues by brand and by month, rather than by year.  That way all of my February Victoria issues are together and I can pull out 8 and have all the inspiration I need for Valentines Day fun.  Most people that tout organizational philosophies or methods get rid of magazines first. But I am not most people and I certainly use what I keep. My library is active and I love it.

Here's proof.  I pulled out the Victoria magazine from Jan/Feb 2009 and look what is on the cover. A pot de creme that is very similar to the set of four that I found at the West Palm Beach Antique and Flea Market. I knew that I had to have them, but its also fun to see that they are cover-worthy

The article "Pots de Creme: A Taste of History at the Table" was written by Katie Brandon ans she says "These intricate creamy white cups are a reproduction of an 18th century design from the Pont Aux Choux factory..."

I have yet to bake in them yet. I want to make sure that these antique vessels can handle the heat of a water bath first. 

Have you ever bought anything that you then saw in a magazine? 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

McCormick Spices: My Kind of Flagship Store

This is my kind of flagship store...all spices

McCormick & Company opened a beautiful 3,800 square foot "McCormick World of Flavors" retail store on Baltimore's Inner Harbor dedicated to their spices and other McCormick brands like Grill Mates®, Lawry’s®, Zatarain’s® and Old Bay®  
I was a sentimental fool, admiring all of the spice tins of yesteryear. The company did a beautiful job displaying the life of McCormick spices. Remember my vintage spices - the ones that belonged to my grandmother?  Her paprika would fit right in (above).
I am so impressed with the McCormick brand. They are innovative, modern and interactive - as a home cook, what's not to love?  I was instantly a fan of their "Recipe Inspirations" collections. Have you seen them (above)? Each recipe card has the right amount of six spices  to make one recipe. It allows consumers to experiment with new flavors, without having to invest in 6 full jars of spices. Once they fall in love with the flavors, they can buy the jar for their collection. Genius.
I was also very interested in their salt dispensary. You know that I have a salt collection and I wanted to get some of their special flavored salt-by-weight. Sun ripened tomato salt, chipotle sea salt, lime fresco salt - I want them all! I must have gotten distracted because somehow I didn't dispense any for myself.

McCormick and Company was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1889, which made 2014 the company's 125th Anniversary. They designed a darling retro blue and white pepper tin and I managed to get that up to the register.  It is my kind of souvenir.

In addition to the commemorative tin, the company launched an initiative called "The Flavor of Together." It is the process of collecting stories from customers around the world about flavors and family recipes, as well as a $1.25 million donation to the United Way to help feed those in need. You can click the link in this paragraph and read hundreds of stories from around the world. 

This company has vision, and to me that is the spice of life!