Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Juice Can Bouquets: Upcycling is Beautiful

I love this bouquet every time I walk through the family room.  My master plan is all coming together in the form of beautiful flower arrangements.

Remember when I visited Uwajimaya in Seattle and shopped for interesting Japanese juice cans? This can is a yellow and purple Sugar Cane drink marked Puli Specialty product of Taiwan. I absolutely love it and the flowers I found in bloom were just what I had in mind for it. Success!
Instead of a traditional glass vase, I love having texture, pattern and color as the foundation for my small flower arrangements.  If I had my own flower shop, I know that these would fly off the shelves.

I am home and able to pull from my own garden to make juice can bouquets. This arrangement has Honey Dijon roses, purple verbena and a sprig of mint.

If I do one thing this summer, it should be to convince you to put flowers in soda or juice cans.  Will you?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Little Bee's Italian Ice in Suttons Bay

How can I have missed sharing this little gem with you?  I have loved Little Bee's Italian Ice in Suttons Bay for years, yet somehow I missed writing a blog post about it.  When I went to congratulate them today on making the cover of Edible Grand Traverse, I realized my oversight.

Jennifer and Tony are the artists and icy engineers that make Little Bee's incredible desserts.  Gelato, Sorbet and Italian Ices are made in housein small batches daily.  I once walked into the shop when Jennifer was squeezing lemons and I thought, "Wow, they aren't kidding around. Fresh lemon juice, indeed."

And of course, the lemon ice was cold and tart and perfectly refreshing. Each summer I stop in as often as possible and I'm always greeted with a smile. 

The Suttons Bay shop also serves as an art gallery for Jennifer's landscapes and Tony's figurative sculptures. They have fashioned a creative life for themselves that I can appreciate. 

The couple concentrates on their frozen desserts in the spring and summer when Michigan fruit is fresh and the town is busy, and then they teach and work on their artistic endeavors (that will ultimately be displayed in the shop the next Spring!) during the quiet Winter months from November to May.
This is their vibrant all-natural sorbet on the cover of the Summer 2014 Edible Grand Traverse magazine. You can read the entire article online here - page 23 & 24.  Congratulations, Tony and Jennifer!

Friday, July 18, 2014

OMG it's Ommegang!

I have had "find Ommegang fruit beer" on my to do list for ages. Yesterday I found a selection of it by accident. I was in Costco and noticed a display of wooden crates tipped on an angle, full of medium size bottles with wire cork caps. Hmmm...

I couldn't believe my eyes. There were 3 varieties of Ommegang (Hennepin, Three Philosophers, Abbey Ale) available by the bottle, each around $7.  I bought 4 to try and this is how pretty they look on the shelf in my refrigerator. The beauty of everyday moments, right? I really don't drink, but I know that Dan will think its fun to try these and remember our first taste back at the Beekman Boys farm.

Josh Kilmer Purcell and I are old friends from college and his husband, Brent Ridge and Dan and I have tried our best to see each other whenever we can. I am hoping to see them again soon on a book signing tour for their latest masterpiece, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook

Anyhoo, last summer we took a vacation in upstate New York and were able to visit Josh at home on the farm.  We caught up around the kitchen table and ate some of their delicious Beekman 1802 cheeses and drank Ommegang fruit beer, which paired perfectly. Ever since that trip, Dan occasionally mentions that fruit beer and I have been meaning to track it down.  Thank you, Costco!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seattle: Southern Comfort Food at the Kingfish Cafe

I couldn't wait to sit down and have dinner at a restaurant that cooks in a traditional southern recipes.  My friends had raved about the cooking at the Kingfish Cafe in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle and had brought me along on one of their frequent visits. I loved this charming restaurant and I will be back!
You know how I love to take pictures.  I can usually wait until I get to the table, but not here! The candlelit hostess area was too beautiful to pass up.
I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken and it was delicious - juicy, tender, flavorful.  Paired with mashed potatoes and collard greens, it was comforting and crave-worthy.  My friend had shrimp and grits (pictured, right) and I wanted that too! Every item on the menu sounded wonderful and I know that I'll have fun returning to try more their special dishes, especially the gumbo.
It was the beginning of strawberry season when we dined at the Kingfish Cafe. We knew that splurging on the homemade Strawberry Shortcake was the right thing to do; what we didn't know was that it would be as large as our head! 

We really should have put something in the picture to show scale - this dessert was enormous! And perfect.  Super sweet fresh berries, homemade whipped cream, fresh tender biscuits. Wow. This dish tasted like summer.
I ducked my head in their adjoining bluesy bar which boasts live music and a bevy of bourbon-based drinks.   Mint Julep, anyone?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blue Angels Air Show: Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July, indeed! My all time favorite July 4th activity is watching The Blue Angels air show in Traverse City.  The Blue Angels come to the Traverse City National Cherry Festival every other year (although they didn't come in 2012 due to federal budget cuts) and they never cease to amaze.
They center their show over Grand Traverse Bay (above).
They fly in a 6-plane formation against the bright blue summer sky.
How is this formation possible?  The formations and proximity to each other blow my mind.  I love it. Love it. Love it. Love it.
Look at this awesome drive by (above) where you can see the pilots!
Look how close the 4 planes are to each other. I don't even want them to fly that close. 
When I went onto the Blue Angel website to give you a link, I noticed that they now have videos that you can watch to see 3 views of each special maneuver: inside the cockpit, from the ground and the pilot saying the verbal cues.
You really must go to one of their air shows if you can.  And wear ear plugs, it will be louder than you think.  But you'll love it. Love it. Love it. Love it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Martha Stewart highlights Japanese Glass Buoys Just Like Mine

I was so happy to see my antique glass fishing floats featured as a collectable in the July/August 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I took a picture to show you my glass buoys on a plate next to the magazine article. 

Remember when I blogged about finding them in Leland's Fishtown?  Some people call them glass buoys, others say fishing floats, but lately everyone agrees that they are a wonderful way to add a nautical touch to your home.  

You can get some of your own by contacting Sporck Tile on the Leelanau Peninsula.  They have a large box of them for sale each summer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

9 Bean Rows Pastries are a 10

It was the right thing to do.  When my dad and I stopped into the new 9 Bean Rows location in Lake Leelanau and saw their bakery case full of homemade French pastries, he said he thought that we should sit at a table and enjoy one right then. Amen.  
I had an apricot pinwheel and this sticky-chewy-buttery masterpiece got us talking about how it would be easier to turn down other pastries in the future, now that we have had the best

Did you notice the green magazine cover called "Edible Grand Traverse" in my photo (above)? I love this free foodie magazine that is printed by region (I found Edible Seattle in Washington) and spotlights the best and brightest in food and farms. Look for one in your area.
There are a lot of croissants and pastries in the world and I give you my word, the pastries at 9 Bean Rows rival the best I have ever had.
I also wanted you to see baker Jen's beloved baking books.  This is the well worn library of a master.  The most tattered cover belongs to The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg.  If you want to learn the craft, I would start here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Portland Farmer's Market: A Foodie's Happy Place

Take everything you've heard about the Portland Farmer's Market, dial it up a few notches, add some goat cheese and you will be close to imagining how great this farmer's market is.

This is the market for every kind of food lover. 10 kinds of fresh mushrooms - check. Organic beef - check. Fresh squash blossoms, ready to stuff - check.

We thought that it would be a fun place to meet up with Dan's cousin and family who live in the area and we ended up spending 3 hours walking around the market, eating, talking and catching up.  What a great way to spend a Saturday in June.
I took a million pictures and I'll highlight a few of my favorite ones together in this post.  The only photo I didn't get? A selfie with Martha Stewart.  No joke! She was in this farmer's market at the same time I was and I never saw her. I just kept hearing people talking about seeing her and showing me their pictures of her. When I tweeted that Martha was at the market too, my followers thought I was kidding. Nope, Martha and I run in the same circles. Ha!
It was the height of peony season and it was all I could do to walk past these pink puffs of delight.  I admired them for a while and got a dose of visual vitamins.  I wanted to buy a wagonful and pull them around all weekend - look at the shades of raspberry and pink!
Then I happened upon Verde Cocina's massive burners loaded with chickens, bacon and vegetables from the market.
I was lured their booth by the sight and scent of this gorgeous pile of fresh vegetables cooking on a giant griddle! I ordered the Buenos Dias breakfast for $10.  It has "Two eggs scrambled with veggies over white bean garbanzo mash, topped with more veggies, ranchero salsa and locally grown and smoked bacon with a homemade tortilla on the side." Un-be-lievable!  

My husband was one happy guy when I handed him our plate.  We shared it and then I realized that I hadn't snapped a photo to show you.  A kind patron let me photograph her plate - mine was similar, except imagine lots of browned pork belly bacon chunks instead of the braised pork. 
It was fresh, loaded with flavor and absolutely wonderful.  I kept thinking "how did they do this?" as I devoured spoonfuls.  The ingredients are simple and the effect is steller. Plus everything tastes better outside!

The Portland Farmer's Market is a great blend of farmers (vegetables), specialty food producers (goat cheese, charcuterie) and bakers/cooks (pies, salad dressings). I love how more and more markets are expanding to include ready-to-eat food.

You could buy a beautiful pies...
Or stock up on organic duck breast, chicken eggs or salami from the Deck Family Farm.
My posse spent so much time sampling and admiring the pate at Chop's booth, I was relieved when we each bought a container of their fresh pate. We bought the Chicken Liver Bourbon Mousse and it was divine.
Somebody make some pickles! Look at these beautiful cucumbers!
Yes, we ate again. Do me a favor and pretend that more time passed than it really did.  We sat on a bench and enjoyed shredded chicken tamales from Salvador Molly.  This is food made with care. Delicious!
When I saw this wagon, loaded with products from the market, I asked the owner if I could take a picture. "That's quite a haul!" She was proud of the bounty she had accumulated and couldn't wait to get home and cook.  Such fun! I look forward to doing this at my own farmer's market when I get home. This year I want to can peaches.
Dan's cousin insisted we try the delicious cookies at Two Tarts Bakery and she was raving about their selection as we walked up to the bakery counter. The baker just looked at me and smiled.  She didn't blow my cover, but she could have. You see, I'd already stopped at her booth when I was wandering the market and eaten one of her lemon bars in the bottom left of this picture. A butter crumb topped lemon bar that really tasted like lemon. Oh yes, I this was a display that I couldn't pass by. 
It isn't hard to take great photos at this market, everything is bright and fresh and ready to eat! If you are ever in Portland on a weekend, you must wander this farmer's market. It really is a good thing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Milk Bottle bouquet

Okay, they are very small milk bottles, but the idea is the same. Identical glass bottles in a wire basket are a wonderful jumping off point for a casual flower arrangement. My mom found this set at Pottery Barn a few years ago and we keep it full of flowers all summer.

The narrow opening of the bottles help to keep blooms upright and clustered together. Flowers can't help but look beautiful: this grouping is made of roses, lacecap hydrangeas, lupine and lavender. 

If you have blooms in your yard, cut some and make your own beautiful cluster. You'll love it every time you see it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Maison du Miel: I found this Beautiful Bee Soap at Honey Heaven

It's a bit mysterious and very French.  This is an elegant honey-scented bee-shaped soap that I have gifted to myself.  I bought several on my last trip to Paris at the wonderful Maison du Miel and brought them back as presents for a few lucky girls. I had saved one bee soap and decided this week that, at long last, it's time that he is appreciated.  I have hung my very fancy soap-on-a-rose in the shower at the cottage and I have enjoyed the beautiful honey-scented bubbles all week.  The bathroom has a bit of honey in the air for at least an hour afterwards;it's lovely. The experience is just what I thought it would be when I bought it and I am happy to enjoy it myself.

Sometimes we forget to enjoy the things we have.  We save the special paper napkins or we never light that beautiful candle.  Part of my objective in writing about moments of delight is to remind you that if you enjoy something, you should experience it.  

Spoiling a friend with a helium balloon or a cupcake is wonderful. At the same time, you have to let your friends spoil you, its only fair.  If reading a magazine is a great escape for you, do it.  Use the pretty soap.  Eat the jam you brought back from Williamsburg.  

Go on, you know you want to. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seattle: Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue

Our dinner at the Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue was as good as it looks! Though heavy on the garlic, I enjoyed all of the distinct flavors on my appetizer platter called a Mezza Tray.  My favorite was the Zahrah (cauliflower deep-fried, topped with tahini sauce. Garnished with green onions, radish, fresh crushed mint) - yum!

The platter was obviously meant to be a sampler platter for a whole table, but I thought it would be the best way for me to try a little of this and a little of that.  The Mezza Tray is described as "an assortment of delicious Middle Eastern appetizers: Hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Labnie, Tabouleh, Zahra, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers." I would order it again, that's for sure!

Dan had a pasta dish that he enjoyed and I had a few bites of his chicken to round out my meal. Yum!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Garden of Eden (Climbers)

You know that I have been on-the-go this year and I was unsure how my roses would fare without my constant attention.

Yep, they're fine.  

Just look at this magnificent swath of Eden climbers that I found blooming as I found them when I got home.  Love love love. Yes, roses need to be watered from the ground (don't let their leaves get wet from a sprinkler) and fertilizer and bug spray is important. But boy oh boy, how could anything seem like too much work when the results are like this.

May you remember to stop and smell the roses.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Portland: A Private Garden Walk

Did you know that Portland, Oregon is known as the "City of Roses?"  When I found out we would be able to sneak away to Portland one weekend and visit Dan's cousin, my first thought was "food trucks" and "farmer's markets."

Then I was at a social gathering going on and on about:
  • Spring coming
  • caring for orchids
  • pruning roses
You know, basic bar night chatter. One of the girls said that I sounded like her parents and all their garden talk. She said that they have a huge garden with a collection of clematis, roses, fruit trees and vegetables on the Tualatin River.
She said that if we had time, we were welcome to visit them when we went to Portland. How fun!  It turns out that their collection of clematis includes more than 300 plants!
I started looking into Portland and found out that it is known as the City of Roses.  I just missed the annual Portland Rose Festival by one week - I would have loved to see the annual rose show! When we drove around the neighborhoods of the city, I noticed large healthy hybrid tea roses blooming hearts out.  What a great city.

We arrived at their address and wow! It is a gardener's paradise. When we visited, so much was in bloom!  

First I'll show you some of the clematis...
My favorite story was that they have both the Princes Charles and Princess Diana clematis (I think this is Princess Diana clematis, below) but they keep them far apart in the garden. Good thinking.
I wish I was able to note which clematis was which as I was taking pictures, to help you with the names, but alas, we'll just have to enjoy them and play 'match game" on Google if we want to find one for our own garden. This lilac blue clematis with the smaller center petals stacked on top was my favorite.
It was fun to see so many different types of clematis wafting in the breeze; thriving in this beautiful landscape.  I heard that several garden magazines beat me to it and have already featured this very garden! You can see why.
The clematis blooms had quite a range of different petal sizes and were in shades from white and pink to lavender and deep blue. Some had wide petals and fluffy stamens and others blooms were small and wispy. What a collection!
In addition to vines, there were some pale raspberry foxglove (below),
and oriental poppies in unusual shades,
and fringed double poppies,
 And the large but paper thin, lacecap hydrangeas. 
I am grateful that these new friends of ours, shared their time and knowledge with us. I could have stayed a week and been perfectly happy weeding and having my way with garden gloves and a clipper. Imagine when the fruit trees are producing!
And imagine being able to eat fresh figs whenever you want!
Oh the arrangements I could make.  And on that note, I'll leave you with one last photograph.  The bouquet of fresh Sweet Pea that they presented to us as a gift.  Gardeners are kindred spirits and I made sure to have a set of my photos printed and mailed (along with a photo disc) to their house as a thank you.
We left their house, stopped at Fabric Depot for a few essentials and then drove north back to Seattle. These delicate Sweet Peas brightened up our hotel room and looked beautiful on the kitchen table for the rest of the week. 

(Sigh) I love this time of year, no wonder I was talking about Spring so much.